National’s Chris Luxon takes a tumble as caucus urged not to fall for ‘Government’s bait’

On a sunny day at a cricket stadium the National Party’s caucus was hardly going to be stumped about what to do over lunch.

Leader Judith Collins wasn’t brave enough to hit a few wickets herself, saying that activity was reserved for people who can bowl “over-arm without making fools of themselves doing it”.

“I am possibly not [playing] but I will however applaud should anyone do something fantastic.”

At the start of the two-day retreat at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, Collins warned not to fall for the Government’s “bait” – instead Chris Luxon fell over an overzealous batting move.

The former Air New Zealand boss took a tumble attempting to play the ball backward square-leg at the caucus retreat at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.

National was supposed to have the retreat in Whangarei but opted to shift it to the capital after the Northland Covid community case.

Instead the party opted to have it at the Basin Reserve cricket stadium – a decision welcomed by its Covid Response spokesman and co-captain of the Parliamentary cricket team Chris Bishop, who also has a long history with the stadium.

His great, great, great grandfather Edward Dixon arrived on the ships at Petone beach between 1838 and 1856 and every summer Bishop sits beneath his ancestor’s memorial clock.

Bishop was among the MPs keen to get out on the green over lunch.

Housing spokeswoman and Wellington Central local Nicola Willis and education spokesman Paul Goldsmith and finance spokesman Michael Woodhouse also took advantage of the sun.

In her opening remarks Collins called for the caucus to “learn to trust each other”.

Ahead of the election, the party went through three leaders in as many months after Todd Muller rolled Simon Bridges, then stood down after 53 days and Collins was elected leader. Last year was also marked by a number of caucus leaks to media.

“This is going to be an interesting and challenging year and every year I’ve noticed it gets more interesting and more challenging,” said Collins.

“But I think this is our opportunity to rebuild, to work together, to enjoy each other’s company and to learn to trust and respect each other for everything that we do.”

She also urged her MPs to stay focused and on-message.

“Being in Opposition, we can get very reactive to what’s going on. One of the problems with that is we can lose track of our own line of work, what we’re doing, and we can end up getting very diverted and distracted by the things that are thrown across the line for us to go and pick up and run with.

“You will have seen a few of those recently, coming from the Government’s side where there are clearly distractions thrown out there so we could take the bait and keep off the things that really matter to New Zealanders.”

When asked later for an example of what she considered to be Government bait, Collins refused to give specifics because that would be “taking the bait”.

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