Leaked email: National MP criticises Judith Collins' 'highly problematic idea' of reviewing Auckland Council

Newshub has been leaked an email showing National MP Denise Lee criticising leader Judith Collins' plan to review Auckland Council as a "highly problematic idea".

Collins announced on Monday a review of Auckland Council to the surprise of her Auckland Council spokesperson Lee.

Lee described it as a "highly problematic idea" in an email to her caucus colleagues. She also panned it as "another working group" and said it would be "a nightmare".

In the email, Lee says bypassing her altogether was "incredibly poor form and displays a shockingly bad example of poor culture".

Collins sighed when asked if the policy had been made on the hoof, and said it had been planned for weeks, despite Lee knowing nothing about it.

"Actually Jenna, it's been prepared for a couple of weeks," she said.

Collins spoke about the policy during an interview with Newstalk ZB on Monday morning, and cited it as the reason why Lee was not aware of it.

"Because I was doing the radio show," she told Newshub.

This is the first overt display of caucus dissent we have seen from National on the campaign and it's a doozy - criticizing the decision-making of Collins and the culture she's created.

Lee is not the only MP upset by it - another National  MP contacted Newshub saying it is consistent behaviour from Collins that she is "making up policy on the hoof" and "creating division". 

Collins sent out a press statement at 7.38am, it outlined a timeframe for the review - saying it'd be launched within the first 100 days of a National government and report back by September 2021. 

"This is a firm deadline, not a moving aspiration, as has been the practice under Labour." 

Later she told the media the review was justified - though didn't give any further detail. 

"Because anyone who pays rates in Auckland Council at the moment is wondering what we are getting for our money."

"I think Auckland Transport in particular has been an absolute disaster, particularly the last few years."

Collins already had a reputation to restore after gaping holes were found in National's alternative budget, and her would-be support partners ACT have added to that burden.

ACT leader David Seymour threw himself down a similar hole to National, using outdated COVID-19 recovery fund figures in his budget, leaving him $8.7 billion dollars short.

Seymour doesn't see it that way.

"There's no fiscal hole in our budget - it's just that the Government's spending money so fast we can't keep up with it," he told Newshub.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said "clangers" are "being dropped every day".

It comes as National released its housing plans, which includes an ambition to introduce emergency legislation that would force councils to free up enough land for 30 years of new housing.

"We cannot afford to go another three years waiting for something to happen," Collins said.
It's not just councils in the firing line - state housing tenants too.