Caucus-wide witch-hunt underway in National to sniff out leakers

A caucus-wide witch-hunt is now underway in the National Party to sniff out their leakers. 

National MPs gathered for their first caucus meeting since the election on Tuesday, after which leader Judith Collins held a press conference where she admitted she could have done things better. 

"There were a few things I thought 'goodness, why'd I do that?" she told reporters. "But that's the nature of the beast."

But Collins wouldn't say what those mistakes were - she's leaving it to a review. 

"Wait for the review. There's some things I thought I could've done better."

National MPs spent three hours behind their big blue banner of doom before coming out together as a united front, with campaign chair and deputy leader Gerry Brownlee owning up. 

"I was campaign chairman so I'm responsible for the way that was presented," he said of the party's election campaign which will be examined as part of the review. 

As for whether he will stay on as deputy leader, Brownlee said: "That's not something that's been discussed at this point."

The day was more farewells than forensics, with silver platters dished out to those departing. The goodbyes even brought National MP Melissa Lee to tears. 

Alongside the sadness was fury. 

"As far as leaking is concerned, it's got to stop," National MP Jacqui Dean said. 

"If you want to be in Opposition forever, keep leaking," said National's Alistair Scott. 

"It is an issue and we need to resolve that," National MP Matt King said. 

"We should be able to trust our team," said Tim Van De Molen. 

"This has been a big issue for us for the last three years and we have to be able to actually come together and unify and make sure we don't continue to have leaks," said Mark Mitchell. 

Judith Collins and Denise Lee.
Judith Collins and Denise Lee. Photo credit: Newshub.

National MP Denise Lee sent an email criticising her leader to the caucus which was leaked to Newshub during the campaign.

Asked if she regretted sending the email, Lee said: "All my comments will be reserved for our internal process. I support Judith as the leader."

Her colleagues want the leaker outed and ousted.

"Fit in or move off," said National MP Chris Penk. 

"Well I think anyone who is disloyal should move on," said Tim Macindoe. 

Collins was asked if she thinks the leakers need to leave. 

"I don't think we're going to be having any issues because I think we're very focussed," she said. 

But it wasn't just this disloyalty. The National Party tore itself apart all term. Through leader after leaker after leader, the knives were always out and still are. 

But Collins wants to move on. 

When asked how much responsibility those who were involved in the Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye coup should take for the loss, Collins said: "Do you know what? I just think everyone's moved on."

Former leader Simon Bridges was asked if he could've delivered a better result for National.

"I think it's a silly question. We are where we are right now. I support Judith 100 percent as leader of the National Party," he said. 

Collins was trying to steady a sinking ship but then came the fiscal holes. 

National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said it's up to Collins if she wants him to continue in the role. 

"Oh look, we all take responsibility for our actions, myself included. It's up to the leader who she wants to appoint in that role," he said. 

Collins brushed off the suggestion that Goldsmith destroyed National's economic credibility. 

"That's enough of that," she said. 

She says it's time to move on.

"It's onwards and upwards for us and we are determined to be the best Opposition ever."