Todd Muller reveals his Shadow Cabinet but Bridges stays out

Bakshi gets Ethnic Communities, Parmar keeps Research, Science and Innovation; Lee gets additional charge of Data and Cuber Security  

Venkat Raman,
Auckland, May 25, 2020

National Party Leader Todd Muller

Newly elected National Party Leader Todd Muller has announced his Shadow Cabinet line-up with a few surprise shuffling, seemingly in a good position for the general election on September 19, 2020 but conspicuous by his absence is his just deposed predecessor Simon Bridges.

He has chosen the portfolio of Small Business for himself, emphasising the importance of this sector in the New Zealand economy and has allocated Education to his Deputy Nikki Kaye, a post she held during the National Party’s tenure in the government. She also gets Sports and Recreation.

Word has it that Mr Bridges had asked for Foreign Affairs, which Mr Muller declined.

He is reported to have offered Justice portfolio to the former Leader.

But Mr Bridges later announced that he will contest as the Party’s candidate in Tauranga and help National win in the ensuing election.

Mr Muller will also handle National Security, traditionally held by the Party Leader.

Amy Adams surprises

A surprise inclusion in Number 3 Position is Amy Adams who has entrusted with the newly-created portfolio of Covid-19 Recovery. Ms Adams had earlier indicated that she would retire from Parliament this year but the new responsibility may see her revising her decision.

Judith Collins has received a promotion in the new line-up. She becomes the Shadow Attorney General in addition to the important posts of Economic Development, Regional Development and Pike River Recovery.

Paul Goldsmith retains his role as Finance Spokesperson for National but down on the List to Number 5 (from Number 3 earlier). He is a List MP from Epsom but his entry to the next Parliament will be assured with a safe position on the List.

Bakshi, Parmar and Lee

The National Party is yet to announce its List ranking for Election 2020 which may not be the same as Mr Muller’s List announced today.

National two MPs of Indian origin- Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Dr Parmjeet Parmar have also received appropriate portfolios.

Mr Bakshi moves up to handle Ethnic Communities (from his earlier Internal Affairs), while Dr Parmar retains her existing portfolios of Research, Science and Innovation.

Melissa Lee retains her Broadcasting, Communication and Digital Media; and gets additional charge of Data and Cyber Security.

The entire Shadow Cabinet, in alphabetical order following the Leader and his Deputy can be found in this Report.

The sovereign debt rhetoric

Mr Muller said that New Zealand is perhaps facing the toughest time that almost anyone alive can remember.

“We are borrowing tens of billions of dollars to get us through this crisis. There is only one team that can spend it competently and well, and that is my National Party team,” he said.

But most governments borrow during times of crises.

During John Key’ s National Government, debt as a percentage of GDP went from 9.1% in 2009 to 24.6% in 2016. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and the Christchurch earthquakes put huge financial pressure on his government.

In real terms, government debt rose from $30 billion in 2010 to $50 billion in 2011 and to $70 billon over the next three years.

Helen Clark’s fifth Labour Government reduced debt from 22.6% of GDP in 2000 to 5.5% in 2008. That Government went from a $386 million deficit in 2001 to a $2.8 billion surplus in 2008.

But Ms Clark did not face any major national or international adversities during her nine-year tenure as the Prime Minister, except to bail out Air New Zealand with $1 billion cash injection in 2011.

Mr Muller said that he was pleased that Ms Adams had agreed to be the Minister for Covid-19 Recovery in his government.

“Amy is tough and tested and will play a key role in getting you, your family and your community through this,” he said.

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