Bridges announces National reshuffle

National deputy leader Paula Bennett will become spokeswoman for drug reform ahead of the referendum on personal use to be held at the 2020 election.

Her portfolio of tertiary education, skills and employment has been assigned by leader Simon Bridges to Shane Reti, a large increase in responsibility for the 40th ranked MP for Whangarei.

Bridges has also made finance spokeswoman Amy Adams the shadow attorney-general, with the retirement from politics of Chris Finlayson.

Nick Smith becomes spokesman for Crown-Maori relations, and Mark Mitchell becomes spokesman for Pike River Re-entry.

The next person on National's list is Agnes Loheni and after she is sworn in to Parliament in February she will become associate spokeswoman for small business and associate spokeswoman for Pacific people.

Rankings will remain the same in relative terms.

Bridges said he had created the new drug reform portfolio because New Zealand needed a well-thought through and evidence-based approach to drug reform that balanced public safety with the need to help vulnerable people.

The role would co-ordinate National's work related to drug reform in health, education and law and order.

"It will build on our significant work in Government around the meth action plan, cracking down on drug dealers and stopping trafficking at our borders while ensuring those who need rehabilitation get access to the best services.

"There is no better person than former Police Minister Paula Bennett who has a thorough understanding of the issues to coordinate this work."

The Government last year passed a law allowing the medicinal use of cannabis - a move eventually opposed by National on the grounds that there were not sufficient rules in place.

The referendum on the personal use of cannabis was a result of Labour's confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party but the question is yet to be formulated.

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