English promises change from Key era

Newstalk ZB Staff,
Publish Date
Friday, 9 December 2016, 5:14a.m.
Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English in parliament yesterday (Getty Images)

UPDATED 8.15AM: The man set to become New Zealand's 39th Prime Minister doesn't believe he'll have any problem connecting with the National Party's strong base of support.

Current Finance Minister and Deputy Leader Bill English will be confirmed as the leader of the party on Monday, following the dramatic announcement that current Prime Minister John Key was stepping down.

Two other contenders for the job, Jonathan Coleman and Judith Collins, withdrew from the leadership race yesterday afternoon.

Bill English told Mike Hosking this morning knows he'll be compared to Key, who had what was seen as an easy rapport with the public.

"I think I'll be quite able to communicate with the public and with voters, understand what's on their minds and understand what we can do to back them," he said.


English noted that he doesn't mind if his deputy is Simon Bridges or Paula Bennett, both of whom are contending for the role.

"I've worked with both, though probably more closely with Paula in recent years, but the caucus is having a very continuing, very constructive, and very testing discussion with me."

English is promising things will work differently from when Key was in charge, saying he won't do things the same way and is a different person.

"It'll lead to changes in how the National Party operates," he said, but refused to lay out his agenda until the selection process had run its course.

"While it appears that I'm likely to have the support of the caucus on Monday, that hasn't happened. So I'm not going to be making pronouncements as an assumed leader of the party."

"We will deal with any policy issues on Monday."

English has signaled a cabinet reshuffle, but has given little thought to when next year's election will take place.

Labour is calling for an early vote, saying it wants to avoid a by-election caused by Mt Albert MP David Shearer's imminent departure to head a peacekeeping mission in Sudan.

An early election could help Labour because the new government would have had less time to get traction with voters traction with voters, which Mr English will be well aware of.

He will also want his new finance minister, Steven Joyce, to present a budget, scheduled for May, before going to the country.



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