National leader Judith Collins believes the party has "dodged a very big bullet" by not having former Upper Harbour candidate Jake Bezzant as an MP.
Collins told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend, from her perspective, the party was presented with "someone who is entirely different from what he portrayed", following allegations he impersonated his ex-partner online, shared explicit photos and even pretended to be her during cybersex.
Otherwise, Collins said she "would have to be sacking him like I had to deal with Andrew Falloon".
As a result, she wants to revamp the party's selection process.
"I have been very clear and the review that was undertaken for the board was very clear that our selection processes need to be more robust," Collins said.
Collins was in Tauranga today as part of a visit to the Bay of Plenty electorate, flanked by Bay MP Todd Muller.
Collins said "most of our candidates are brilliant," but the party needed to go back and talk to people not necessarily on the reference checklist.
"We have to up our game on it," she said.
"And understand that we live in a different world from when people know someone from school and they can talk about them."
Jake Bezzant was approached for comment.
In light of National MP Nick Smith's retirement, which he announced on Monday, Collins refused to confirm or deny telling Smith of an imminent media story into his alleged bullying in the workplace, which he had cited as a reason for resigning.
"Any discussions I have with my MPs are entirely between us so I never discuss things like that. If I hear of a story that might affect an MP, I will always let them know. Because to not do so would be, I think, reprehensible."
When asked if she thought whoever told him about the imminent media story might have unnecessarily pushed him into retirement, Collins responded, "I would have thought not".
"I think the inquiry itself is something that's difficult for anybody to have to be the subject of that.
Collins said Smith had indicated he was upset after losing the Nelson electorate seat after 30 years and was thinking of leaving during the term.
"I think you get to the stage after 30 years [and] 11 elections - you sit there and say 'am I enjoying this as much?' And the answer is probably no.
"I don't think people realise the sorts of hours and commitment it takes to be an effective member of parliament. And Nick has had 30 years of it."
The veteran MP said he would leave Parliament on June 10, and revealed Parliamentary Service was investigating "a verbal altercation in my Wellington office last July that has not concluded".
It is understood the altercation was with a young staff member who had worked there for less than a year prior to the incident.
The verbal altercation - described to the New Zealand Herald as "angry words from both sides" - was recorded by a third party, who worked for the party in a nearby office and then laid a complaint with Parliamentary Services.
Collins said the recording was "a breach of the law", and the person responsible no longer worked for Parliamentary Service and had "well and truly gone elsewhere".
"It is quite clear from what I can see of the law is that it is illegal to record a conversation which you're not a party of or for which you don't have consent to do that."
She said it was difficult to comment on because she did not know the full basis of the inquiry.
"I haven't seen the inquiry, haven't been briefed on it by Parliamentary Service."
Collins said it was "entirely up to him" if Smith wanted to go back to work before he retired.
"If he wants to come back, I'm very happy for him to do so. If he doesn't want to come back, I'm perfectly happy with that too."