National leader Judith Collins will 'particularly enjoy defying expectations' if victorious in 2023

National leader Judith Collins says she will "particularly enjoy defying expectations" if she becomes Prime Minister in 2023. 

Collins is still confident she can win at the next election, despite ACT leader David Seymour being ahead of her in the polls as preferred Prime Minister.

"I have had a successful career so far defying expectations, and I will particularly enjoy that," Collins told reporters on Tuesday when asked how it would feel to win in 2023 after a crushing loss in 2020. 

"I will understand very seriously that we will be taking over in 2023 a country that has been economically severely damaged, where people have lost trust in the promises of governments and of parties being elected, and we are going to have to prove every day that we are the people to take that over. 

"It will be something where my experience in law, in business, as a senior minister, are all going to be needed."

Collins' comments came as she foreshadowed her party's COVID-19 plan for opening New Zealand up to the world, which is due to be released on Wednesday. 

"The ultimate goal of our plan is to get New Zealanders travelling in and out of the country by Christmas, to reunite families, to connect businesses with the rest of the world, to address chronic staffing shortages in key sectors, to stabilise our economy, and to put an end to nationwide lockdowns.

"Our plan will achieve all this while keeping New Zealanders safe. Our plan will end the isolationist approach of the Government and give Kiwis hope."

National leader Judith Collins.
National leader Judith Collins. Photo credit: Newshub

The Government has signalled plans to start opening up, but no concrete date has been given. The elimination strategy will remain in place until at least 90 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated. 

National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop said if his party were in charge, vaccinated Kiwis could expect to travel without worrying about managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) in time for Christmans. 

"I think it would be fair to say that if you're a double vaccinated Kiwi offshore or a double vaccinated Kiwi in New Zealand, you will like our plan," he said. 

"If you're a double vaccinated Kiwi, you have given yourself the protection against COVID-19 and you will enjoy the fruits of National's plan, if the Government adopts it.

"What is true is that there are thousands of New Zealanders offshore right now who can't come home because of the human misery that is the MIQ lottery. They will benefit from National's plan."

ACT, National's parliamentary ally, released its COVID-19 plan on Tuesday. Leader David Seymour said he would start opening New Zealand up to the world around November, after every eligible person had had the chance to be vaccinated. 

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub

Collins denied ACT took the limelight by announcing their plan the day before National's release. She said Seymour didn't warn her about it.

"No, he did not actually, and I wouldn't expect him to. I don't think we told him about our plan, either...We're not the sort of party that worries about... we don't want to put out a half-baked... worrying about people putting their own plans. It's very important that we put out our full plan tomorrow." 

Collins did not appear concerned about ACT rising in the polls as National dips, or Seymour being ahead of her as preferred Prime Minister. 

The most recent Colmar Brunton poll, released on Monday, showed National slipping from 29 to 26 percent, and ACT rising from 9 to 14 percent. It followed a Curia poll two weeks ago which had National on 21.3 percent and a Newshub-Reid Research poll in August, which had National on 28.7 percent. 

The latest poll shows Jacinda Ardern on 44 percent as preferred Prime Minister, followed by Seymour on 11 percent and Collins on 5 percent. 

"I think it's a very good indication that people want us to be bringing out solutions," Collins said. "People just want solutions, basically, and what they want us to do - myself, the whole team - is to focus on the things that matter and that's what we're doing."

She described her relationship with Seymour as "very, very complementary". 

Seymour also had praise for Collins. 

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key.
Former Prime Minister Sir John Key. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I've got a lot of time and respect for Judith. We must go back seven years that I've been in Parliament. I was particularly touched, for instance, when she changed her vote on the End of Life Choice Bill at the second reading and the speech she gave then."

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key also released his ideas over the weekend for New Zealand opening up, leading to speculation he'd taken the wind out of National's upcoming announcement. 

Collins said she called Key on Sunday after he released a series of opinion pieces across a range of media outlets. 

"I called him and said, 'You've certainly got the lefties upset now John', so we had a good laugh about that," she said. 

"What I think that John Key was expressing was the very deep frustration of a lot of people, particularly in Auckland, as to why the Government has not released a cohesive and comprehensive plan for getting out of lockdown."