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National MP Simon Bridges has been given the key finance and infrastructure portfolios by new leader Christopher Luxon - handing him the third ranking in his caucus.
Luxon made the announcement in Tauranga today - the first major move of his leadership ahead of a wider reshuffle next Monday.
He said his "good friend" Bridges could not make it to the event, because his son had had an accident at school, and Bridges was with him at hospital.
Luxon said the rest of the reshuffle would come on Monday. He pointed to Bridges' background as a transport minister as being important in the new role.
Luxon said Bridges had the skills and "intellectual heft" needed for the finance portfolio.
He had a "good brain and a great work ethic".
"Simon Bridges taking it to [Labour Finance Minister] Grant Robertson is going to be a great contest."
"Simon will play a central and critical role in our leadership team, and he and I will work closely together."
"He is ideally suited to prosecute the wasteful spending decisions, spiralling debt and rising costs of living occurring under the Labour Government."
It is the first announcement for Luxon's new line-up – and the most critical after a turbulent week for the party as Luxon sets about trying to unify the team.
It was to have been the first time the two have been together since Luxon was elected unopposed as leader on Tuesday. Nicola Willis was elected as his deputy.
Bridges pulled out of the race an hour before the National caucus were due to vote, and announced he would support Luxon, but has not spoken publicly since.
While he did not have enough support to win the leadership, he does have a significant base of support in caucus.
Luxon said the economy would be a priority for National and it intended to hold Labour to account over its spending decisions and the rising cost of living.
He said spending on hospitals and roads was important but "blowing cash on nice-to-haves is quite another thing."
"High inflation is like a thief in your pocket, making it harder to live. That's why public spending must be brought under control – otherwise we will keep seeing costs rising faster than wages."
He said it was important the economy was sustainable, and that mean spending effectively and with discipline.
"New Zealand needs a strong economy so we can invest in better core services like healthcare, education and police."
Luxon said it was also important to reset the approach to infrastructure to take a long-term, intergenerational view.
Parliament is in recess this week, but will return next Tuesday when Luxon will go head to head against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the first time.
Since he took over as leader, Luxon has said there would be jobs for all three former leaders in his caucus - Judith Collins, Bridges and Todd Muller - saying "we'll set the baggage aside."
It remains unknown whether Muller now wants to reverse his decision to retire in 2023 - a decision forced on him by Collins after she found out he had anonymously badmouthed fellow MP Harete Hipango to media.