National leader Judith Collins is in disbelief at the "arrogance" of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern dropping her weekly interview with Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.
"I think what you're seeing is the absolute arrogance of this Government," Collins told Magic Talk on Monday, echoing Hosking who said the Prime Minister was "running for the hills".
A statement to Newshub from Ardern's office said her schedule of media appearances had been reviewed and she will no longer do a weekly slot with Hosking, but she and her ministers will be available "when issues arise".
Collins said it looks to be a Government "trend" after Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson recently cancelled his weekly slot on Magic Talk with Peter Williams after he was asked about 'The Great Reset', a narrative adopted by conspiracy theorists.
"So first off we've had Grant Robertson, Deputy Prime Minister, blanking you, cancelling you out. Then we've had Jacinda Ardern doing the same to your rival station," Collins told Peter Williams on Magic Talk.
"What that does smack of is it could be being a bit of a chicken, it could be simply wanting to cancel people out who don't have the perceived wisdom of 'everything's just fine and how dare you question me', or it could just be that basically, she doesn't like hard questions."
Collins says Ardern gets paid big bucks to answer tough questions. The Prime Minister earns $471,049, which was reduced to $423,945 after the six-month 20 percent pay cut ministers took in solidarity with businesses in the wake of COVID-19.
"The point is those hard questions are actually what you get paid for. If it was an easy job being the leader of a political party, leader of the Opposition or Prime Minister, then anyone could do it," Collins said.
"It's a tough job and that's why it's paid well, that's why it has status, and that's why the Prime Minister gets to have all the fun things with her job too.
"It's simply not something where it's acceptable for the Prime Minister to decide which media are more friendly, and that's frankly what we're seeing."
Hosking's interviews with Ardern are often fiery, but the pair exchanged light-hearted gifts for Christmas last year. The radio host said at the time people "misunderstand" his relationship with Ardern, and that he actually "likes her a lot".
"It's our work. It's what we do. There's nothing personal in it."
Collins joked that she could be next in line to be "cancelled", a modern term used to describe the practice of withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.
"You might also expect I might get cancelled for asking questions on that this week," Collins said, on the topic of the Government's lack of a full COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan.
Raising concerns about 'cancel culture' is a winner for the National Party, its pollster David Farrar of Curia Market Research recently told a gathering of party members, according to Stuff.
Mihingarangi Forbes, host of Three's The Hui, suggested it could be a good thing that the Prime Minister's media schedule has been revised, so she can be more assessable to other media outlets.
"It's about time the Government rearrange the Media Diary," Forbes wrote on Twitter. "A bit of equality for shows like The Hui, Marae, Te Ao, [Newshub] Nation... we'd be lucky to have the PM twice a year."