Judith Collins attempts to pull Simon Bridges into line over 'wokester' attack on police boss

Simon Bridges and party leader Judith Collins. Photo: NZH File
Simon Bridges and party leader Judith Collins. Photo: NZH File
National leader Judith Collins has pulled senior MP Simon Bridges into line over his "wokester" attack on Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

She has made it "very clear" to Bridges that his comments should be directed at Police Minister Poto Williams and not at Coster – New Zealand's top Police official.

"I've made it very clear that our focus is on those who actually set the rules and the agenda and that is the minister," she told RNZ this morning.

Bridges told media yesterday that Coster was not fit for the job of Police Commissioner as he was putting "being nice" ahead of applying the laws.

He called him a "wokester commissioner" – essentially implying that Coster was too politically correct and wanted to ensure he was not offending anyone with his decisions.

Andrew Coster. Photo: ODT file
Andrew Coster. Photo: ODT file
Bridges first made the comments on Twitter last week, saying Coster's "softly, softly" approach would lead to more gang and gun violence.

The problem with a politician, such as Bridges, attacking a public servant, is that Coster is unable to properly defend himself as he's not allowed to comment on political matters, such as this.

Collins said this morning that she has made it clear to Bridges that National "does not attack commissioners".

She said Bridges' position was "certainly not" the position of the National Party – "he's not the Police spokesperson".

He is, however, the party's Justice spokesperson.

But Collins argued that Bridges – a former National leader – was only reflecting the frustrations of frontline police.

Those issues, she claimed, include the Government promising more police officers but then not following through on recruitment.

This comes, she said, at a time when gang numbers continue to increase.

According to numbers from the Police Minister – obtained by National through written questions – gang membership in Wellington increased by 51 per cent in 2020 and has almost doubled since Labour came to office.

The figures show there are now almost 1000 patched gang members living in the capital.

"The fact they are gaining a significant foothold in Wellington is extremely troubling."

In a press release, she made it clear National was blaming "the Labour Government" for what she called a "soft approach to crime".

"If Labour doesn't stop sitting on its hands, gang harm will increase in every suburb of New Zealand as quickly as the methamphetamine trade has. It's time to take action."

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