Reti to 'shepherd' National until leadership decision

The National Party's new interim leader Dr Shane Reti has spoken to media after a backlash against Judith Collins' sudden demotion of Simon Bridges saw her step down today.

Collins was voted out as National's leader after the party was locked in a caucus meeting for more than three hours.

The former leader confirmed the news on her Twitter feed.

Reti spoke to media this afternoon, flanked by Matt Doocey and Maureen Pugh.

He said "caucus was concerned with the content of the press release" issued by Collins last night about demoting Bridges.

Today caucus issued a motion of no confidence in Collins, which was successful.

Reti said he would serve as interim leader until the new leader was elected at a meeting next Tuesday.

"My job at the moment is to shepherd and guide the caucus" through to the leadership decision next week, he added.

Reti said there were issues with the process taken to issue the late night press release.

He refused to disclose what private conversations he had with colleagues.

"We're looking for our new leadership team on Tuesday to bring us back in focus," Reti said.

"This is a business for the party, it is a business for MPs," he added, saying National MPs would have to be judicious and diligent about choosing the next leader.

He said the party would have to be mindful of major issues confronting New Zealand, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reti has repeatedly said he would not be discussing what he called conversations with his party colleagues.

"This is not our best day but as I said, we will raise our eyes to the sky."

Reti said he had not himself contemplated yet whether he would put himself forward for the leadership position, as it was more important right now to shepherd the party forward.

"We're really looking for our new leadership team on Tuesday to bring us back to focus on the things that matter to new Zealanders. We are in the middle of a pandemic, we want to be bringing new thinking to the room, new thoughts, and that's going to be our focus under our new leadership team on Tuesday.

"Judith had an allegation that she needed to attend to, it was a serious allegation and so she took advice and madet he best decision that she could last night."

He repeatedly said he does not reveal discussions in caucus, nor private conversations with his caucus colleagues.

National MP Jacqui Dean has issued a statement regarding the recent events. She said Bridges apologised at the time of the incident "about five years ago" but that his "inappropriate" remarks had continued to play on her mind.

She said Bridges has reiterated his apology in the past few hours.

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