Simon Bridges' position within National to be worked out in time, new leader Todd Muller says

The new leader of the National Party, Todd Muller, is not ruling out Simon Bridges from remaining with the National Party.

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The Bay of Plenty MP successfully ousted former leader Simon Bridges in an emergency caucus meeting yesterday. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after Mr Muller successfully ousted Mr Bridges from the role in an emergency caucus meeting yesterday. 

Mr Muller will move into the Leader of the Opposition's office over the next few days.

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The Bay of Plenty MP told 1 NEWS it is “a huge privilege” to take on the role.

The 51-year-old started out as a Young Nat and worked with former Prime Minister Jim Bolger, before leaving to work in the corporate world for 15 years, after which he returned to politics, Mr Muller said.

“To be given the support of my colleagues to lead the party and one of, I think, the country’s great critical junctures is a great honour and I’m looking forward to working with them to win the government in 120 days’ time,” he said.

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Just four months out from the election Mr Muller rolled Simon Bridges for job. Source: Seven Sharp

Mr Muller, who served as the party’s agriculture spokesperson, said his family were "very supportive" of the move. 

"My son in particular - in fact, all of them - have said, 'This is something that you’ve always been passionate about, your community, passionate about the National Party, if this is something you think you can do, that you can do well, then we’ll support you,' and it's been great there's nothing, really, that can beat the love and support of your family.

"My youngest summed it up best when she said, 'Look dad, we always love you, whatever you do.'"

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He said any staff changes will be made over the next few days.

"You've got to take time to be respectful and work out, firstly, exactly what change, if anything, is needed, and then make sure you have those conversations.

"Of course, you’ve got the pressure of 120 days to the campaign … but you’ve got to make sure that you treat people well and you’re clear in your own mind who’s best for what position."

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The Bay of Plenty MP rolled Simon Bridges and brings in Nikki Kaye as his deputy. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Muller called Mr Bridges' conduct yesterday "immensely professional", adding that his position within the party, if he chooses to remain, will be worked out in due time.

"He’s obviously spending a bit of time reflecting on what next in terms of his contribution to the National Party and in time, we’ll be able to work that out. He is a tremendous asset to the party and of course, if he wants to stay involved, he will be.”

Mr Bridges' ousting follows a disastrous 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll result Thursday that saw National drop to its lowest support since 2003, plunging 17 percentage points to 29 per cent.

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The Tauranga MP's preferred PM result also dropped six percentage points to 5 per cent, and his approval rating also fell to -40.

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Todd Muller rolled Mr Bridges today, four months out from the election. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Muller said while he identifies himself as Catholic, his religious beliefs do not inform his politics on issues such as abortion and the LGBT+ community.

"I am a person who holds values that are faith-based, but I have never - and will never, ever - stand up and critique anybody else's personally-held values," Mr Muller said.

"I never spoke on those issues when they came to the House because I did not believe that it was my job to stand up and talk to others who had a different view around the area of their thinking.

"I think they will find me someone who is authentic and is completely comfortable with anybody's life choices and it doesn't in any way impact the value set that I have that sits inside me."

He said while he would not criticise the government's Covid-19 response, the conversation and the party's focus must now turn to "something much more challenging, much more profound and comprehensive as when you have a thousand people a day losing their jobs". 

"We need to pull together a recovery plan, or this country will end up being unrecognisable in three years’ time.

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The Bay of Plenty MP took over this afternoon after ousting Simon Bridges as National’s leader. Source: 1 NEWS

"When you get the economic heart beating in the community, you can revive a community, and that must be - and will be - our number one focus."

The new leader of the Opposition today announced in a statement that he will be the party's spokesperson for small businesses.