Judith Collins says the prospect of National merging with ACT is unlikely, despite the two parties fighting for votes from a similar slice of right-leaning Kiwis.
Collins was asked on Monday about the prospect of the parties merging after a recent Roy Morgan poll showed a decline in support for National while ACT continues to grow in popularity.
The poll put National on 23 percent, down from 25.6 percent in the October general election results. Meanwhile the poll put ACT on 11 percent, up from 7.6 percent at the election.
The poll results prompted former ACT leader Richard Prebble to speculate over the weekend that National could lose its status as the main Opposition party and be overtaken by ACT.
But Collins told Magic Talk she thinks National is doing well at holding the Government to account and is focusing on the issues that matter to New Zealanders.
"People are going to take some time to make a decision that the Government has not followed through on all of its promises. You can't expect people turn around and say 'oh we made a mistake'. It's just that far out - two and a half years before the next election."
As for whether National and ACT could merge, Collins said it's unlikely.
"Oh look, I can't see that one happening. But my view is that the National Party is a broad church party. We're not to the same degree as right as ACT. We have to be able to bring along everybody - that's what we are," she said.
"If ACT are wanting to come in and be part of National, well obviously we'll always want to talk to people who want to join us, but I think it is really important we just both do our jobs really well and there are lots of things we and ACT coordinate on and talk to each other about."
ACT leader David Seymour says it's a good thing Kiwis have a variety of parties to choose from.
"It's good to live in a free and democratic society where anyone can join any political party they like. You look at what's happening in China right now and Hong Kong, not everybody has that choice," he told Newshub.
"ACT is very focused on our purpose, which is making sure New Zealand has the best policy in the world and when we don't think the Government is doing the best policy we say so, and when we think there's an opportunity to add value we put forward better proposals."
Seymour said he cannot control the views Richard Prebble expresses. But he suggested National has only itself to blame for its failure to pick up in the polls.
"The National Party's been in power for two out of every three years since the Great Depression so if you think New Zealand needs to do better and hasn't reached its potential, then it's difficult to think the National Party might be the solution," he said.
"Some people might even say that they've been the problem."
It comes amid speculation Collins could be replaced as National leader, a position she's held since July - 13 weeks out from the election. She led National to its second-worst defeat in the party's history, losing 23 seats.
In an opinion piece published on Monday, AM Show host Duncan Garner described Collins as a "dead woman walking" and suggested former Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon could take over, with Simon Bridges as his deputy.
When asked if she detects any rumblings in her caucus about a challenge to her job, Collins told Magic Talk: "No, I don't."
"What I do detect is distractions when we've got a very important job and that job is obviously holding the Government to account."