Judith Collins rips into Labour's team; Jacinda Ardern pays tribute to NZ First, Greens as Parliament wraps up

Judith Collins has ripped into the Labour Party's team while Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to NZ First and the Greens as Parliament wrapped up ahead of the election. 

The Prime Minister began her speech by reflecting on the last three years leading a Government that passed 190 pieces of legislation, including the Zero Carbon Act, banning offshore oil and gas exploration, and introducing child poverty measures

"If there's proof of considerable consensus in a Government, it's the fact that we've passed more legislation than comparable governments over the last four terms as I understand, and along the way prompting a lot of interest from the Opposition, given they asked us 11,600 questions," Ardern said. 

"We've increased paid parental leave, we brought in the Winter Energy Payment, we have indexed benefits to wage increases - the Children's Commissioner said some of these changes would make the biggest difference to child poverty that we have seen in decades."

Ardern thanked Winston Peters, the leader of Labour's coalition partner New Zealand First, and James Shaw and Marama Davidson, co-leaders of its confidence and supply partner the Greens, acknowledging how Labour "would not be here" without them. 

"Of course, during this campaign, there will be lots of sprinkling of dust and glitter and whatever you may choose to call it, there will be lots of shovelling of figurative things - but none of that, for me personally, will ever diminish what this Government and these three parties and these leaders have achieved," she said. 

"And so I say to the Deputy Prime Minister, I say to Marama and to James, thank you - thank you to New Zealand First and thank you to the Greens. I am immensely proud of what we have collectively done for Aotearoa New Zealand."

Ardern then thanked her own Labour Party caucus, "They are exceptionally hard-working, they are grounded, they are here because of their community, and they are strong. I acknowledge all of you my Labour team."

National Party leader Judith Collins wasn't so kind about Ardern's team. 

"I think it is really important that when we look at our extremely united team, which is full of extraordinary talent, I look instead at Phil Twyford - one of the best performers of Jacinda Ardern's Government - now promoted to number four," Collins said. 

Twyford was stripped of the housing portfolio by Ardern in June 2019 after Labour's flagship KiwiBuild programme failed to meet its initial targets. Twyford also offered his resignation as Transport Minister in 2018.  

"What does that say about the rest of them? What does it say about the rest of them when they've got Phil Twyford at number four and he's ahead of Dr Megan Woods and Chris Hipkins and just about everybody else?" Collins said. 

Dr Woods replaced Twyford as Housing Minister in 2019, while Hipkins recently became Health Minister after his predecessor David Clark stepped down over becoming what the Prime Minister described as a "distraction". 

Collins said the upcoming election is "extremely" important as the next Government will have to lead the country through the coronavirus pandemic. 

"This is going to be an extremely important election because it's about who is going to be best able to manage what has been described by the Reserve Bank as the biggest economic downturn in 100 years," Collins said. 

"What did I hear from the leader of the Labour Party? A whole lot of pixie dust and how everything's going to be just fine. A whole lot of dust - that's all it was."

Collins said the Government failed because more than 200,000 New Zealanders are on the unemployment benefit with "no plan" to take them out of it, and big promises like KiwiBuild did not live up to initial targets.