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National Party leader Judith Collins has hit out at the host of TVNZ's Breakfast show, Indira Stewart, claiming she had "a political agenda" and was under-prepared after a heated exchange over her decision to travel to Wellington for Parliament.
Stewart had asked the MP why she felt she was entitled to travel when thousands of other New Zealanders were staying home to prevent the spread of the deadly Delta variant of Covid-19.
Collins has faced increasing criticism for flying to Wellington yesterday after National and Act refused to support a further suspension of sittings while New Zealand was in lockdown. They also refused to support a virtual Parliament, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had wanted.
In the interview on Breakfast this morning, Stewart had repeatedly asked Collins why National did not agree to a proposal for a virtual Parliament during the Covid lockdown and instead insisted on travelling to Wellington.
Collins mounted her defence, saying the virtual Parliament had not been tested, and there was no reason why Parliament should not meet - as well as asking why it had been alright for the Prime Minister and other ministers to travel down on the day the first Delta case was detected.
Collins reiterated that her work was essential and she was entitled to travel to carry out her role. She said she had been at home in isolation for two weeks, was fully vaccinated, was a meticulous contact tracing app user and had not been to any of the listed locations of interest.
She fired up further when Stewart questioned whether she'd had a Covid-19 test before travelling.
"Why is this all about me today?" Collins exclaimed.
"Oh come on Indira, this is ridiculous."
Stewart had argued that many other groups were being required to meet over Zoom, and even essential workers who could work at home were doing so.
A TVNZ spokesperson said Stewart asked "valid and newsworthy questions".
"Parliament resumed yesterday with significantly reduced numbers and it's appropriate to discuss whether this was the right call."
Asked how she thought the interview had gone later, Collins said she thought Stewart was "under prepared, and didn't seem to know the details."
"But I also think there's nothing like a good workout in the morning, it's a bit like going to the gym.
"I think it's quite shocking when I've just had a good interview with someone who knows their facts to unfortunately then have someone who seems to have a political agenda, not their facts. But that's okay, everybody will make their own judgement."
The TVNZ spokespersons said Collins was "made aware we wanted to discuss this topic in advance".
"While our presenters can't control the reactions of our guests, we think robust discussion is a good thing," the spokesperson said.
Collins' interview prior to the Breakfast interview was with the rival AM Show.
She said she had since received emails from people saying they would complain about the interview to TVNZ.
Asked what facts Stewart did not seem to have, Collins said she did not seem to understand the exemptions in the Public Health Order "and didn't seem to think democracy required more than one party in Parliament, this is not a one party state, and nor should it be treated like that."
In the interview with Stewart, Collins also claimed she was sick of journalists asking the Prime Minister questions such as "how are you feeling" rather than about vaccines.
Ardern has not yet been asked how she is feeling - but has been asked daily about the vaccines rollout.
At Collins' standup after that interview, Newshub's Tova O'Brien began by asking Collins how she was.
In the Breakfast interview, Stewart and Collins spoke over each other for several minutes - Stewart trying to ask further questions on a range of subjects including the vaccine roll-out and the Pacific community and Collins trying to answer.
And they butted heads further when Stewart asked Collins what she had done to help the Pacific community in terms of the vaccine roll-out.
"You know fully well I am deeply involved in the Pacific community... my husband's Pasifika, I talk to him every day, and also I have contacts in the Pacific community," she said.
The over-talking and raised voices continued in the 11-minute interview before Stewart cut the Opposition leader off.
"I enjoyed that, thank you Indira," Collins said.
However seconds later, the frustrated MP was taking to Twitter to post about her annoyance with the interview.