Todd Muller: Agriculture is 'part of who I am'

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 May 2020, 1:57PM
National Party leader Todd Muller. (Photo / File)

Todd Muller: Agriculture is 'part of who I am'

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 May 2020, 1:57PM

National's new leader Todd Muller may be eyeing the Minister of Small Business portfolio, but he's still an agricultural man at heart.

"I haven't taken off the agri-cloak and hidden away in the corner, it comes with me, it's part of who I am" Muller told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

Muller became leader of the National Party last Friday after rolling Simon Bridges in caucus.

Before becoming the new Opposition leader, Muller was National's Agriculture spokesperson, a role that now goes to MP for Hamilton East, David Bennett.

Bennett had a "strong agribusiness background" and would do well in the role, said Muller.

"[He is] a dairy farmer in his own right and chairs the primary production select committee over the last couple, or three years - he will be a very good fit for the agri-sector".

Muller said he chose small business because it was "very important, particularly right now".

"We've got half a million small businesses in New Zealand and most of them are feeling smashed. And the support they're getting from the Government, from our perspective, is orientated in the wrong direction - the wage subsidy's helpful but all other support is loading up debt".

"They need a government that actually understand the reality of their businesses and what's needed to get them back off the canvas. So I'm going to focus on that".

While Muller was turning his attention to small business, agriculture was never far from his mind.

"Of course many farmers in their own right are - well, not so small business - but you know what I mean, they come from that same perspective".

"I'm not going to lose that appreciation for the sector now that my job's changed".

Also in today's interview: Muller discussed the wage subsidy strategy and explained his description of the Government as "three heavy lifters and 17 empty chairs". He also talked about the new National Party line up, why "team" will be important and how he will go head-to-head with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the House.