NZ Election 2020: Judith Collins' 'peeved off' attitude called out by Duncan Garner during The AM Show

Duncan Garner has called out Judith Collins for her "peeved off" attitude during their interview on Wednesday morning, claiming the Opposition leader shouldn't allow "errant MPs" to get under her skin.

Garner said Collins, in the throes of her election campaign, appeared "annoyed" and "frustrated" during her slot on The AM Show. The Opposition leader seemed low on energy and lacked her usually spirited demeanour. 

Garner attributed Collins' irritability to National's ongoing campaign woes.

"You seem to be this morning - and I've got to know you a lot over the years - you seem to be... annoyed, frustrated. You're furious with someone at something and you want to get this campaign back on track. I know you," Garner told her.

The lacklustre appearance follows Opposition deputy leader Gerry Brownlee's snarky response to a Newshub reporter on Tuesday. The Ilam MP took exception to being questioned about health policy, and referred to the journalist as "lazy as buggery". 

"Your people give me the shits," he snapped at the junior journalist, who was interviewing the deputy on behalf of political reporter Anna Bracewell-Worrall.

The on-camera blow up was branded as "unfair" by Garner and "a bit stink" by newsreader Amanda Gillies.

Collins herself has faced condemnation from her own MPs in recent days, with National spokesperson for local government, Denise Lee, slamming her plan to review Auckland Council as "highly problematic" in an outraged email to her party colleagues. She branded Collins' failure to consult her during the decision-making process as "incredibly poor form".

Another National MP alleged Collins is consistently "making up policy on the hoof" and "creating division" within the party. 

In light of the accusations, Labour claimed the backlash exposes the "disunity and chaos" within the National Party caucus.

The Opposition leader appeared "annoyed" and "frustrated" during her appearance on The AM Show, according to host Duncan Garner.
The Opposition leader appeared "annoyed" and "frustrated" during her appearance on The AM Show, according to host Duncan Garner. Photo credit: Getty

Victoria University politics professor Bryce Edwards has also accused Collins - who is openly Christian - for "politicising" her faith after she was captured praying ahead of casting her advance vote on Sunday. She rejected the criticism as "quite abusive".

Collins conceded that Garner's observation was "probably right".

"I want to be talking about things that matter - which are the people of New Zealand, and I expect everyone to be focused on that," she said. 

"I actually find it quite distracting having to talk about what my views on things [are], when what really should matter to people is the fact that the Treasury says 100,000 people [will] lose their jobs by this time next year. 

"That's actually what matters and that's what I'm here for. I'm not here for silly stuff - I'm here for things that matter."

Garner later suggested Collins' frustration was rooted in her struggle for traction, with National languishing at 29.6 percent of the vote - up 4.5 percent on the previous poll - compared to Labour's 50.1 percent, according to the latest Newshub Reid-Research poll. If Prime Minister Ardern's bid for reelection is successful, Labour could be in line to govern alone 

"She's frustrated that she can't control where she wants it to go. You can't control errant MPs who stay stupid things and write stupid things down," claimed Garner, who previously held the role of 3 News political editor.

"This is life in politics - you have to smile and walk [your] way through it, Judith. This is the problem with politics, you have all sorts of idiots and fools and they're in your own party." 

Gillies noted the Opposition leader looked "exhausted".

"She looked very tired today. Understandably it's been a huge time but she just looked exhausted and almost done," she observed.

"Peeved off," Garner offered.

During the interview, Collins defended herself against the accusations of "making policy up on the hoof" by claiming former National leaders Sir John Key and Sir Bill English also devised policy without informing the rest of the caucus.