After I graduated from Lincoln College in the 1980s as a 23-year-old, I came home to share what I thought was wisdom. I started telling my father, a farmer of 30 years experience, how he should farm. One day he smiled and quietly said, “a little bit of knowledge is dangerous”.
I was just starting to gather wisdom which can only come from a lifetime of experiences not a qualification and few years in a job. It comes from a lifetime of trying new things, making mistakes, being hit by the unexpected and learning from them.
When Judith Collins was elected the National Party leader, she brought with her wisdom gained from 18 years in Parliament, a successful career as a lawyer and from growing up on a dairy farm. She also brought wit, evident from her first press conference where she oozed confidence and humour. Asked what immediate changes needed to be made, she replied obviously the posters. She had more hair than Todd Muller. Contacts and friends who have worked under her say she is caring and personable.
When my friend’s daughter was sexually harassed in Parliament it was Collins, who was a minister at the time, who quickly sorted it out with professionalism and sensitivity.
Those I know who have worked with her when she was a minister, say she is personable, intelligent, hard working and strong on the detail.
National always had a good team, but lacked a striker. Bridges took a lot of shots at goal but seemed to spray them wide of the mark with the public. Did National MPs overreact to a couple of lousy polls for Bridges immediately after the Covid-19 lockdown? Nobody would have polled well then against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Muller was rushed in as a right foot striker, but he had two left feet and hardly touched the ball. Collins started scoring goals as soon as she took over as leader.
We are told she doesn’t belong to a faction within the National Party. She is driven by her convictions, not right-wing or blue-green ideology. Collins wouldn’t have bothered to reprimand Paul Goldsmith for telling Ardern to stick to her knitting as Nikki Kay did.
Collins is her own boss and there because the party needs her. She comes across as a natural leader, not a manufactured one. What you see is what you get.
She speaks clearly and concisely. She is extremely calm. She can answer questions on the spot without delay. Notice how she hardly moves when speaking.
Her views on climate change will resonate with many especially farmers. She will not beggar the country in order to virtue signal to the world. So will repeal of the RMA.
Commentators warned that Collins won’t have a long honeymoon with the media. She never got one.
In the first interviews the leftwing biased urban media climbed into Collins and her deputy Gerry Brownlie. Both handled the questions masterfully, though Collins used humour as well.
When queried about her nickname Crusher, Collins replied it was the media who gave it to her, but thought it would be a good one for her team.
She wasn’t just answering questions. She was also sending a message to voters. Collins praised Ardern but warned she wouldn’t tolerate any of her nonsense. It created the image of a school ma’am and a school girl.
The big question is will Collins and National have enough time to convince the majority of voters National should be in Government? It is a great shame that Muller took 53 days to resign.
But as we’ve seen from the Andrew Falloon and Iain Lees-Galloway resignations, a day is a long time in Parliament, let alone a week.