National leader Judith Collins appears to be emulating the style of her political rival, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, by choosing not to say her opponent's name.

Instead, Collins chooses to only publicly refer to Ardern as the Labour leader or, in the House, as the Prime Minister – never saying her name.

Asked why she does this, Collins said she was only doing what Ardern did to her.

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According to the National leader, Ardern refuses to publicly say her name as well – instead, calling her either the opposition leader, or the leader of the National Party.

Collins' unwillingness to say Ardern's name was on full display this morning when she was speaking to a business audience in Wellington.

On a number of occasions, Collins would only call Ardern the Labour Party leader, or some variation of that title.

And, speaking to RNZ this morning, Ardern made a number of references to "the Opposition".

In the post-Cabinet press conferences she's had since Collins took over as National leader, Ardern has also been reluctant to name-check Collins.

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The election is now just 46 days away and all major parties have been in campaign mode for weeks.

This is the last week Parliament is sitting, before it adjourns for the campaign.

Both Collins and Ardern will be hitting the campaign trail full time after Parliament wraps up on Thursday night.


But Collins was not wasting any time this morning.

Much of her speech was focused on the areas she thought the Government was getting wrong.

Asked at one point by a member of the audience what aspect of the job she would enjoy most about being Prime Minister, Collins said: "Bringing back hope."

"I am seeing an awful lot of fear being spun by the current Government," she said.

"Fear that we [National] would open the borders ridiculously or we would let Covid-19 into New Zealand."

Collins said that in reality, National had "zero tolerance" for Covid-19 – "I'm not letting that stuff in."


"In addition to that, it's hope about what we can do – we don't have to sit there receiving benefits … if there is something else we can do."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins leaving the post-Cabinet press conference. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins leaving the post-Cabinet press conference. Photo / Mark Mitchell

But she acknowledged that the Government would have to borrow more money to help the country get through Covid-19.

A National Government, however, would pay off that debt quicker, Collins said.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Ardern was critical of National's debt recovery plans.

National wants to bring debt down to 30 per cent of GDP within 10 years – that's much faster than the Treasury's current projections.

According to the Budget, Government debt will peak in 2024 when it hits $219 billion (just under 60 per cent of GDP).


Ardern said this morning that for National to achieve their target, it would be $80 billion worth of cuts.

"I will not have the next generation pay through austerity measures that mean we are unwilling to support them into jobs and making sure they have income support."

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson