Southern MPs positive on Luxon; Woodhouse set to lose role

A Southern MP looks likely to be among the first victims when new National Party leader Christopher Luxon unveils his shadow cabinet.

Mr Luxon, a novice MP but experienced corporate leader, was yesterday handed the leadership of the party when his only rival, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, opted out of the contest.

Michael Woodhouse
Michael Woodhouse
Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse, who in previous leadership challenges has been a strong supporter of Mr Bridges, said his friend and colleague had conducted himself with great dignity.

"He is first and foremost the National Party through and through ...

"Ultimately he stepped back and caucus is full square behind the new team.

"I have had a number of conversations with Simon and with Christopher, as well as others of course, and I feel that we have come to a really good outcome."

However, Mr Woodhouse is resigned to losing his finance spokesman role.

The only senior role Mr Luxon announced yesterday was his deputy, Wellington list MP Nicola Willis.

Mr Woodhouse was shadow leader of the House and finance spokesman under former leader Judith Collins, but his finance role was shared with Andrew Bayly.

"I am sanguine about the future but I will, as I always have, support the leader in any way that they see fit," he said.

"I am under no illusions that the finance portfolio is likely to be part of that mix but I am prepared to offer my skills in any way that they can be best used."

Jacqui Dean
Jacqui Dean
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, who unwittingly played a key role in the leadership change when a complaint she made five years ago about comments by Mr Bridges was cited by Ms Collins as the reason for her suddenly stripping Mr Bridges of his portfolios — precipitating a successful no confidence motion in her leadership and the vacancy in the party leadership — said Mr Bridges stepping aside had transformed what might have been a tense caucus meeting into a positive moment for National.

"I am very comfortable that now we will be able to get on with it and to do our job, which is what we are here for," Mrs Dean said.

"I know Nicola Willis very well and I think she will be an outstanding deputy.

"She has been very helpful to me at times."

Joseph Mooney
Joseph Mooney
Southland MP Joseph Mooney said it had been an exciting day and the party had emerged from it with a strong leadership team.

Mr Mooney entered Parliament at the same time as Mr Luxon and had gone through MP induction sessions with him before joining him on the backbench.

"He has incredible competency, which has already been proven in the real world, and he’s going to bring that, but he’s also got a real compassion ...

"He has a big heart as well as a formidable intellect."

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds, also elected last year, was delighted with the outcome, and said the caucus had felt united and positive.

"It feels already that we are being well led ...

"He is such a hard-working guy and committed to what he does."

 - mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

 

 

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