Muller: 'I expect to be PM after election'

Newly National Party Leader Todd Muller speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament...
Newly National Party Leader Todd Muller speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington today. Photo: Getty
The new National leader says he expects to be Prime Minister after New Zealand's September election.

Todd Muller addressed media this afternoon for the first time with his new deputy, Auckland MP Nikki Kaye, after he won the vote for the party's leadership over incumbent Simon Bridges.  

He said New Zealanders had made sacrifices to fight Covid-19 and the economic crisis we face is the biggest in our history.

He conceded the Government's handling of Covid-19 was "impressive".

"But now it's time to take a step forward to rebuild the country, he said.

He said only National can do that.

"The task for the next Government is immense."

He said his focus would be New Zealand's economic recovery. The size of the task was enormous - "but I will bring my all to it".

He said he would be bringing his skills as a businessman to his role as Leader of the Opposition.

He said National MPs are grounded in the economy. For too long, he said New Zealanders have been invisible to this Government.

Under his leadership, he said it's about what's best for "you and your family".

He said he was not interested in "opposition for opposition sake."

He said he wanted to work with the Government on issues, such as climate change. The Climate Change Bill made sense, he said.

On policies, Muller said they are all still on the table.

That includes tax cuts and an economic response with families at the centre.

Asked about a reshuffle, he said he will keep Paul Goldsmith in finance. Asked about any resignations, he said he has not been told that any MPs will step down.

He said the decision from caucus to rule out New Zealand First as a support party remains. Asked about working with Winston Peters, Muller said that has not been in front of the caucus.

There is a chance that caucus' decision could be changed.

Muller said he would still hold the Government to account. The Government was one of high promise, and low delivery.

He said the Government had talked a big game, but it had failed to deliver.

Muller said he was "really hopeful he would be on the news tonight" when asked how he was going to get more well known to New Zealanders.

He wouldn't say who voted for him or go into more details about what happened in caucus - he said the vote was "very respectful".

"We always have moments, every party does."

But he said National remains unified.

"The feeling in that caucus room was incredibly positive."

The message he wanted to portray was that National is a caucus of "remarkable talent".

"This team will pull together a set of policies that New Zealanders will relate to," he said.

The team will spend some time reflecting.

Kaye said Todd Muller was "the most decent person I know".

She said he has "huge integrity".

She had confidence that Muller can unit both the more conservative, and liberal sides of the party.

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