Paula Bennett keen to play deputy to Bill English: 'I'm someone who is a bit different!'

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has confirmed she's entered the contest to be National's deputy leader - and thrown her support behind Bill English for the top job.

The move comes after Transport Minister Simon Bridges ruled himself out of the National Party leadership contest - but also announced he wants to be deputy and that he was endorsing English for leader. 

The Transport Minister backs English and wants to stand for the National Party deputy leadership. Source: 1 NEWS


1 NEWS Political Editor Corin Dann said today has "very much shaped up as the day of the deputies". 

"There are some key differences between Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett," he said.

"Paula Bennett is part of what they call the kitchen cabinet and represents the status quo. She's extremely vibrant and has a lot of energy and is popular, and has a big personality.

"Some would see this a good counterweight to Bill English. Simon Bridges, while an experienced minister, is pitching himself as someone who is outside of the inner circle and would represent rejuvenation and is better able to express and understand the wishes of the back bench.

"In other words he would be a champion of back bench MPs. It is a big boost for Bill English today that Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett have said positive things."

'Look of a contemporary New Zealander'

Speaking at Parliament, Mr Bridges said: "I will be voting for Bill English as leader … I am putting my name forward to be the change and rejuvenation part of the equation".

He went on to say that  "I recently turned 40, I have the outlook of a contemporary New Zealander".

"While Bill English offers strength and stability what I offer is change and rejuvenation," he said.

"I think I bring a very good balance, a complementary skill set and views to Bill English.

"My expectation is that Bill English will win and that's the basis on which I'm standing ... to be deputy leader to Bill English.

The Justice Minister is given the chance to follow Simon Bridges in announcing whether she’ll run for the position. Source: 1 NEWS

"I feel like I've got support and momentum, I'm going into this to win. I represent very clear generational change."

Justice Minister Amy Adams said today that she hasn't made a decision on whether she will put her name forward to be deputy. 

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, and Police and Corrections Minister Judith Collins all confirmed yesterday they've entered the contest to become New Zealand's next Prime Minister following John Key's shock resignation announcement on Monday.

Today, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce refused to categorically rule himself out of entering the leadership race.

Bennett is backing Bill English for the top job, and wants to be his second in command. Source: 1 NEWS