Veteran MP and top-ranked party player Judith Collins has ruled out a run for National's leadership and will likely remain a key pillar of the party going forward.

What her role within National will be remains uncertain, given the fact new leader Todd Muller has yet to announce a caucus reshuffle.

But political commentator Ben Thomas said the new leader "would be mad" not to make her a pivotal part of his new-look National Party.

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At a caucus meeting this afternoon, Muller rolled former leader Simon Bridges.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye was elected as Muller's deputy.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Muller was confident that under his leadership, National will win the election.

"There is no Team Todd, there is no Team Nikki, or anyone else – there is only Team National," Muller said.

Fronting to the press for the first time as leader today, Collins was one of the six National Party MPs standing alongside Muller on the stage.

Although the focus of the press conference was squarely on Muller and, at times, Kaye, Collins was singled out for a question at one point.

She was asked if she would rule out a run at the leadership – she said she would.

"I will support the leader and the deputy of the National Party: Todd and Nikki."


She added that National's new leadership has "a great team behind them and we're all going to be working together".

But she would not say who she voted for.

"All our ballots are secret."

 Newly elected National Party Leader Todd Muller speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on May 22, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo / pool
Newly elected National Party Leader Todd Muller speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on May 22, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo / pool

Thomas said Collins has been "without question" the top-performing National MP while the party has been in opposition: "She has been one of the standout performers for National over 15 years".

"Any leader would be mad not to use Judith's considerable strengths for their benefit."

Those strengths include her ability to hold ministers to account, as well as the way she relates to the public, Thomas said.


Muller was giving little away when it came to any new roles within the party, other than the fact that Paul Goldsmith would retain the finance portfolio.

The new leader is expected to announce a reshuffle sometime in the foreseeable future.
While in opposition, Collins was a highly effective housing spokesperson.

She can take a lot of credit for exposing the Government's KiwiBuild blunders and back downs and has been working behind the scenes on National's RMA policy.

Speaking to media this morning, before the vote, Collins appeared upbeat.

In fact, she said she was feeling "very chipper".

When asked who she would be supporting, she said: "Whoever wins".


"I'm the person who always understands you always support the leader of the National Party, whoever that will be."