Reshuffle sees the return of Bridges and Muller to front bench

Reshuffle sees the return of Bridges and Muller to front bench

Katie Scotcher
Wellington, July 16, 2020

Judith Collins has brought Simon Bridges, Nicola Willis and Todd Muller to the front bench (RNZ Picture)

New National Party Leader Judith Collins has reshuffled her Caucus, promoting former Leaders Simon Bridges and Todd Muller to the Party’s front bench.

The reshuffle was sparked by the leadership change on Tuesday and the resignations of senior MPs Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams.

Both Ms Kaye and Ms Adams were loyal Muller supporters, but Ms Collins said that their resignations were not linked to her leadership.

“I am really pleased that both Amy and Nikki are making decisions that they are happy with. I am not so happy that they are leaving, but I understand it,” she said.

The role of Deputy Leader had taken a big toll on Ms Kaye,  she said.

“They have my eternal gratitude and respect for the way they have behaved, particularly over the last week, or even the last few days. Ms Adams was offered a very senior position,” Ms Collins said.

Muller on leave

Mr Muller, who resigned as Leader on Tuesday, has been handed the trade portfolio and will be ranked number eight. He will be away from Parliament for a few weeks.

“He is feeling very, very happy with the Trade portfolio and he is keen to come back, as soon as he is able, to part of our team at a senior level,” Ms Collins said.

Bridges moves up

Ranked at number four, Simon Bridges has picked up the justice portfolio and remains National’s foreign affairs spokesperson.

“I have long been of the view that Simon should be Justice and he has clearly always wanted Foreign Affairs. So, he has got both. He is a very hard working MP, highly intelligent, and I am absolutely certain that he will play a powerful role in the incoming National-led government,” Ms Collins said.

Mr Bridges has taken the Justice portfolio from Mark Mitchell, the only MP to challenge Ms Collins for the leadership, who has tumbled down the rankings.

The Party’s Transport and Infrastructure Spokesperson Chris Bishop has also been promoted to the front bench and is now the Shadow Leader of the House.

Ms Willis has moved up one place in the rankings to 13.

Ms Kaye was “absolutely adamant that Willis was the right person for the job,” which coincided with Collins’ view, she said, adding that Willis is an “an extraordinary person.”

“She’ll be excellent as Minister of Education.”

Gerry Brownlee gets more

The Party’s Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee will take on the Covid-19 border response portfolio.

Collins has placed the Party’s Agriculture Spokesperson David Bennett at number 11.

“By putting agriculture on the front bench, we are making it very clear to the rural and provincial New Zealand that we understand the importance of agriculture to our economy and to our country as a whole,” Ms Collins said.

She spoke to every MP last night, before announcing the reshuffle this morning and said that she enjoyed the process of forming a Shadow Cabinet more than she expected.

“This is a winning team. My hardest issue with this was, who didn’t get into the Shadow Cabinet… at least I don’t have the problem Jacinda Ardern has got,” she said.

National Party Spokespersons

Judith Collins: National Security; Gerry Brownlee: NZSIS, GCSB, Covid-19 Border Response; Paul Goldsmith: Finance, Earthquake Commission; Simon Bridges: Foreign Affairs, Justice; Dr Shane Reti: Health; Todd McClay: Economic Development, Tourism; Chris Bishop: Infrastructure, Transport, Shadow Leader of the House; Todd Muller: Trade; Louise Upston: Social Development, Social Investment; Scott Simpson: Environment, Climate Change, Planning (RMA Reform); David Bennett: Agriculture; Michael Woodhouse: Regional Economic Development, Pike River Re-entry, Deputy Shadow Leader of the House; Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans; Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation; Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction; Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues; Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety; Agnes Loheni: Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples; Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice; Lawrence Yule: Local Government; Denise Lee: Local Government (Auckland); Dr Parmjeet Parmar: Research, Science and Innovation, Statistics; Brett Hudson: Police, Government Digital Services; Simeon Brown: Corrections, Tertiary Education, Youth, Associate Education, Associate Drug Reform; Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries, Forestry; Jo Hayes: Whānau Ora, Māori Development; Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Economic Development, Associate Transport’ Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport; Tim Macindoe: ACC, Skills and Employment, Seniors, Civil Defence; Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi: Ethnic Communities, Associate Justice; Matt Doocey: Junior Whip, Mental Health; Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, Children and Disability Issues; Stuart Smith – Immigration, Viticulture; Simon O’Connor: Customs, Associate Social Development, Associate Housing and Urban Development (Social Housing); Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, Children and Disability Issues; Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities, Women; Harete Hipango: Shadow Attorney General, Crown-Maori Relations and Treaty Negotiations, Māori Tourism; Jonathan Young: Energy & Resources, Arts Culture and Heritage; Nicola Willis: Education, Early Childhood Education; Jacqui Dean: Housing and Urban Development, Conservation; Mark Mitchell: Defence & Disarmament, Sport & Recreation; Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Data and Cyber-Security; Andrew Bayly: Revenue, Commerce, State-Owned Enterprises, Associate Finance, Small Business and Manufacturing; Dr Nick Smith: State Services, Electoral Law Reform, Drug Reform

Katie Scotcher is a Political Report at Radio New Zealand. The above Report and Picture have been published under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz

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