NZ Election 2020: Labour rips into National, Judith Collins over Auckland Council email leak controversy

A National MP's email criticising Judith Collins' decision to review Auckland Council proves the "disunity and chaos" exposed within the party earlier this year is still rife, Labour has claimed.

Denise Lee sent the email - which was later leaked to Newshub - to her National Party caucus colleagues on Monday, describing her leader's policy announcement as a "highly problematic idea" and panning it as "another working group".

Lee, who is the Opposition's spokesperson for local government in Auckland, also took issue with Collins bypassing her altogether during the decision-making process. She described it as "incredibly poor form" and "a shockingly bad example of poor culture".

Lee is not the only MP upset by it; another National MP contacted Newshub to say Collins is consistently "making up policy on the hoof" and "creating division" within the party. 

The dispute is the latest in a litany of controversies within the National Party this year, although the first concrete proof of dissent in the ranks since Collins took over as leader following Todd Muller's resignation.

Labour's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says it shows "a campaign in chaos", and serves as evidence the Opposition is unfit to run the country.

"National have churned through three leaders in the space of three months, faces an exodus of 19 experienced MPs like Amy Adams, Nikki Kaye and Paula Bennett at the election and according to this email are still infighting," he said.

"National clearly are no longer the party of John Key and Bill English, and their credentials on economic management are shot. They are now a divided party who pose a real threat to our economic recovery if they were elected.

"Judith Collins briefly papered over the cracks in National but this email proves the disunity and chaos we've seen all year is still rife."

Robertson also took aim at Collins for telling Newshub the policy had been planned for weeks - despite Lee knowing nothing about it and finding out along with the public on Monday.

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

"Yesterday Judith Collins said the policy to review Auckland Council has been worked on for several weeks. According to this leaked email, that is untrue and the party's spokesperson didn't seem to know anything about it or support it.

"I challenge Judith Collins to release the policy and evidence it has in fact been worked on for weeks to prove she hasn't misled New Zealanders. If she can't, then it raises serious questions around the accuracy of her statement."

Newshub has contacted the National Party for comment.