Paula Bennett gets new role as spokesperson for drug reform issues, as National Party announces reshuffle

Paula Bennett is taking the newly established role as National Party spokesperson for drug reform issues, a move that leader Simon Bridges said was essential for holding the Government to account. 

"What is quite clear to me is the Government has an agenda, a plan for drug decriminalisation," Mr Bridges told media in Auckland today. 

The Labour-coalition Government has promised a referendum on cannabis legalisation at the 2020 election.

"This Government's confused and dangerous commitment to decriminalisation and its soft approach to crime shows it's not up to that task," Mr Bridges said.

"When it comes to drugs we need a well-thought through and evidence-based approach to drug reform that balances public safety with the need to help vulnerable people.

"There was clearly a move to reject National's thought-through, considered evidence based approach to medicinal cannabis ... to a very loose, unregulated medicinal cannabis approach," he said. 

In other National Party portfolio changes Amy Adams takes the role of Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Mitchell becoming spokesperson for Pike River Re-entry and Nick Smith becoming the spokesperson for Crown-Maori Relations, after MP Chris Finlayson left Parliament. 

New National MP Agnes Loheni would be associate spokesperson for small business and associate for Pacific Peoples.

Dr Shane Reti will take over Ms Bennett's tertiary education, skills and employment portfolio from Ms Bennett. 

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In making the announcement today Simon Bridges accused the Government of pushing "ahead with its agenda of drug decriminalisation". Source: 1 NEWS

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