No new cases for 10 days, no word from Government

No new Covid-19 cases for the tenth day in a row. No change to any of the daily numbers (there is still 1 active case).

But it will be another seven days before the Cabinet considers any changes to the current Level 2 lockdown, and based on the last indication from Government it could be up to 3 weeks before we drop to Level 1.

Winston Peters has already been pushing for a drop to level 1. Five days ago Winston Peters says NZ should already be in level 1 with trans-Tasman bubble

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has broken rank with Labour over coronavirus restrictions, saying the country should be at level 1 now.

Peters told Newstalk ZB on Wednesday morning that it was his party’s position that New Zealand should be at alert level 1 by now, meaning almost no internal restrictions on normal life.

He said this view had been made clear to Labour in Cabinet, but it didn’t have the numbers to make it a reality.

“The Prime Minister has actually admitted that, at the Cabinet meeting she said it, there was serious concerns from New Zealand First that this was taking too long”.

Peters made clear that he thought the health advice being given to the Government was overly risk-averse, pointing to the earlier advice from the Ministry of Health that even Kiwis be blocked from coming home to New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that Cabinet would check in on level 2 settings on June 8 and would make a decision on whether to move to level 1 or not no later than June 22.

Today from National leader Todd Muller:  Government must explain why we’re still at Level 2

The Government needs to explain to New Zealanders why it won’t consider a move to Alert Level 1 for another week, Leader of the Opposition Todd Muller says.

“Kiwis have made enormous sacrifices to flatten the curve, but if their efforts still aren’t enough to move to Level 1 then the Government must explain why.

“It has been more than a week since the last confirmed case of Covid-19. There are fewer cases now than there was before any restrictions were put in place.

“The Government has a duty to speak with one voice on such a critical issue, but all Kiwis are hearing now is mixed messages from the Prime Minister and her deputy.

“Businesses on the brink of closure have been left in limbo too long. It’s time for the Government to be clear about what conditions need to be met for the move to Level 1.

“Level 1 should mean businesses can return to full capacity, transport networks can resume without constraints, marriages can be properly celebrated and loved ones can be appropriately mourned.

“The sooner small businesses know what Level 1 will look like, the easier it will be for the backbone of our economy to start repairing itself.”

If the Government waits another week before explaining what the new Level 1 will be like and when we may move to it they will leave themselves open to more questions and criticisms, especially if we continue with no new Covid cases.

There’s indications most of the public have already largely moved on from Level 2, but businesses are still restricted by Level 2 rules. The longer it takes for business to get back to near normal the more jobs and businesses will be lost.

Messy start but Muller still has opportunity to make a mark

Todd Muller’s first week as leader of the National Party was messy and in some ways mucked up, but he still has an opportunity to make a mark as leader of the Opposition, and maybe rescue his party from a downward slide, and just maybe give Labour some real competition in this year’s election.

Some of the maelstrom faced by Muller was due to media getting bored with Covid coverage (“breaking news” of no more cases wears a bit thin day after day) and looking for some controversy and drama. They managed to manufacture some, and Muller and his team made that easy.

But most of it was a lot of noise about bugger all. No journalist is expected or required to be at their best in their first week on the job, it takes a while for them to make drama out of dregs.

Of course some on the left revelled in the ruckus making, that’s they way politics works (unfortunately) – it’s a game of dumping on opponents.

Some of the criticism of Muller came from the right as well, but Mike Hosking and the guy Richardson dissing Muller was hardly a damning indictment.

And Damien Grant, barely a middling journalist promoted several rungs above his level of competence thinks that Todd Muller confirms himself as a middle manager promoted several rungs above his level of competence.

The debacle over the MAGA cap, the lack of diversity in the front bench and Muller’s failure to articulate not just an economic agenda but even an idea confirmed what many of his detractors, this columnist included, had already concluded; he was a middle manager promoted several rungs above his level of competence.

The MAGA cap was largely over hyped crap, I’m surprised Grant seems to think that the front bench should represent everyone who doesn’t vote for National (I suspect he would grizzle about anything seen as ‘token’ appointments), and expecting to Muller have a comprehensive economic agenda ready to publish and promote on day one is just plain nuts.

We have a major problem with lazy journalists wanting instant stories.

Demands for an instant miracle from journalists would be better directed at their own industry, which is in much worse condition than Muller’s leadership and National’s current poll dip.

There is time for Muller to find his feet as leader, work out with his caucus and party their key policy priorities to promote in time for the election campaign.

Not much time, but there is time. Muller may still turn out to be a failed muppet, but he should at least be given a chance to prove himself.

Andrea Vance has a much better look at the current situation in Could middle-of-the road Muller come out a winner?

By the end of last week, Todd Muller was looking like one of the losers.

The Wellington commentariat had largely decided his first week as National leader was uniformly awful.

These conversations reverberated around the square mile of Pipitea, and Muller was found wanting.

It is perplexing why Team Muller had such a clumsy start, after plotting for months, and assembling a artful team of insiders that includes PR practitioner Matthew Hooton and dark-arts kingmakers Crosby Textor.

But the subjective judgements of a handful of Beehive pundits on perceived performance flaws, are now more insignificant than ever.

An economic shock has ricocheted around the world. Voters are consumed with worry about their jobs, mortgages and how to pay their bills.

In a political environment where most people would struggle to name the Cabinet, it’s hard to see people getting too exercised about the make-up of the Opposition’s front bench, or which keepsakes a leader displays on his shelf.

Most people would struggle to name the first five ranked Cabinet Ministers (I can’t), or even the first three (I could only guess at number 3 but at least I will know a little of them when I find out).

There was no discernible Muller vision. No priorities for his first few months in office. And no bold, alternative ideas for the post-coronavirus economic recovery.

And there is no reason why Muller should have had this level of detail ready to spoon feed journalists from day one. That’s a ridiculous expectation.

What actually is Jacinda Ardern’s vision?

What are her priorities for the next few months, apart from keeping us in level 2 and winning the election?

What are her bold, alternative ideas for the post-coronavirus economic recovery? If journalists should be looking anywhere for these right now it should be from Ardern and her Government.

While trust in Ardern is high, Labour still strive for economic credibility, after a decade of doubt over their fiscal capability.

So why expect, demand this of Muller in his first week in the Opposition leader’s office?

In the face of soaring unemployment and plummeting house prices, middle voters may pause for thought. People who care passionately about inequality, over-tourism and climate change in the good times, tend to be less progressive when their personal economic circumstances are shaken.

If National can play on that doubt: and convince centre voters they must make a choice between which priority they value the most, then middle-of-the road Muller may just come out a winner.

Unfortunately a lot may depend on how much slack they keep giving the Government because of their admiration of Ardern. And how much nit picking of Muller they over-dramatise.

But that’s the nature of our politics and our media.  Like it or not Muller and National have to find a way of dealing with that semi-successfully.

Muller announces National Party policy for business employment

After a difficult first week as National party leader Todd Muller has announced a policy targeting businesses recovering from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

It can only happen later in the year if National win back power in the election in September and get coalition party support for the policy, and the economic situation may have changed drastically by then anyway, but Muller needed to do something to appease media demanding he do something immediately.

National backs businesses with $10k JobStart

National will provide a $10,000 cash payment to businesses that hire additional staff as part of our commitment to keeping New Zealanders in jobs, National Party Leader Todd Muller and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith have announced.

Our JobStart scheme would begin on 1 November 2020 and run for the remaining five months of the financial year through to 31 March 2021, incentivising up to 50,000 new jobs.

“Today National has announced another part of our plan to create jobs and grow the economy,” Mr Muller says.

“We are committed to supporting New Zealand businesses, in particular small businesses, to invest and grow. JobStart will give small business owners greater confidence to hire new people.

“Small business owners who create jobs will be the heroes of this economic crisis, in the way that our nurses, doctors and all five million of us who stayed home were the heroes of the health crisis.”

Mr Goldsmith says thousands of small businesses across New Zealand were starved of revenue during the lockdown and many are still struggling under level two restrictions.

“They are desperate for cash flow and this payment could alleviate some of the pressure they’re facing while also supporting growth.

“The scheme will be capped at 10 new employees, or $100,000 per business. Businesses will need to prove that the new hire is an additional full time equivalent over and above their existing labour force.

“The Government said its Budget was all about jobs but there was no plan to back this up. Only National has a plan to revive the economy and keep Kiwis in jobs.”

From the factsheet

The $10k JobStart is for all New Zealand businesses but it is focussed on small businesses. It will be capped at 10 new employees, or $100,000 per business. The scheme is capped at $500 million – or 50,000 new jobs.

How many new jobs are expected to be created over the five month eligibility period?

The number of new jobs created in any given period depends largely on the stage of the economic cycle.

Especially the stage of the economic cycle in a recession or depression, as the country and world may be in by later in the year.

Naturally in politics this policy has been criticised, and defended. Like:

Thee $10,000 approximately covers employment for three months on the minimum wage.

It would encourage some businesses to employ or to re-employ, but it is debatable.

If National get back into power in late September or October they will have a huge job to do dealing with ongoing Covid-19 (or the aftermath), and it is likely the economy will be in a dire situation, as will many businesses that have survived that long.

So what needs to be done then is difficult to predict now.

But Muller needed to get a policy out to show that something positive is being done under his leadership.


National criticised over Maori representation

Should every party in Parliament rank their caucus with balanced representation of every major New Zealand demographic?

The new National Party lineup announced by leader Todd Muller yesterday has been criticised for ‘a lack of diversity on their front bench’, and in particular forr not having enough Maori MPs prominent on their rankings.

Maori tend to not vote for National in big numbers, so why should National arrange their ranking to appear to represent Maori proportionally?

Should National also balance their lineup with union representatives, teachers, climate change activists, social activists and racing and fishing representatives?

Tariana Turia is complaining about the lack of Maori in National’s front bench – but her Maori Party was notable for it’s lack of diversity, they only had Maori representatives. As was their choice.

Should Labour have farmers and ex corporates and religious advocates in their front bench?

Should NZ First have a balance of young MPs?

Should Greens have business representation in their caucus and their list?

Or should each party represent who they wish, and rank their MPs how they wish?

Maori already have a special guarantee of representation in Parliament through the Maori seats. National have never been given a Maori seat by Maori voters, so why should National go out of their way to represent them?

Muller had to put forward his new lineup in a hurry, and National are in opposition, not in Government. John Key’s Government represented Maori through some of their own MPs and in particular by including the Maori Party, who were voted for by Maori.

Every party shouldn’t have to be representative of everyone, they should represent who vote for them.

Labour hasn’t had a particularly good record of representing Maori interests despite holding most Maori seats most of the time (currently all Maori seats).

It would be democratic nonsense for all parties to be diverse enough to satisfy every interest group in the country. The Greens who promote themselves as diverse are making little attempt at gender balance these days, but that’s their choice.

Voters are supposed to decide what they think of the diversity or lack of diversity of each party lineup.


Where to from here: Muller

From Gezza:

Where to from here: more detail from Muller

The Herald’s Jason Walls gives his take on Muller’s first head-to-head in The House with Ardern.

New National Party leader Todd Muller has gone toe-to-toe with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the House for the first time.

Although Muller’s line of questioning was not particularly fiery, an exchange between NZ First Minister Shane Jones and National’s Paul Goldsmith caused a stir during question time this afternoon.

Muller – who rolled Simon Bridges to become National’s leader late last week – focused on small business and jobs over the course of his line of questioning.

Unlike Bridges, whose first question was strategically vague in a bid to make it harder for the Prime Minister to prepare, Muller’s first question was straight to the point.

“What is the Treasury’s most recent estimate of unemployment in the third quarter of this calendar year, and what is the Government’s specific plan to arrest the sorts of job losses we’ve seen over the past two weeks?”

Before answering, Ardern congratulated Muller on becoming the new Opposition leader – but that’s where the pleasantries ended…

It’s a pretty lightweight effort, but of much more depth & interest is the embedded audio clip of Mike Hosking’s interview with Muller.

The now obviously anti-Labour-led coalition, preening, right wing partisan Hosking showed himself in the lead up to the last election to be capable of doing a solid, workman-like job of hosting a National & Labour leaders’ debate & remaining surprisingly neutral throughout.

He adopts a similar style in this interview, but lets Muller talk uninterrupted & Muller gets to expound in more depth than I’ve seen so far; on his Covid-19 recovery philosophy, his analysis of the government’s performance (“credit where credit’s due”, the problem with this government is the Prime Minister has about 3 competent Ministers & then all the others fall away pretty fast – Twyford, Jackson, Davis cited as top of his head examples of failures) & the approach he’ll be taking in his new job.

I won’t try & transcribe relevant bits; on this FiP2 it’ll take too long flipping back & forth between the Notes app & the browser pages & there’ll be too many typographical errors.

Well worth a listen though, in my view. (Still a case of me waiting to see if I think he & his team can deliver the goods better than the current coalition or Labour.)

New National leader Todd Muller squares off against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the first time

Hansard: 2. Question No. 2—Prime Minister

Muller’s reshuffle of the National caucus

New National leader Todd Muller has announced his reshuffled line-up of caucus rankings and responsibilities.

Todd Muller announces shape of next Government

National Party Leader Todd Muller has announced the line-up of the next Government.

“New Zealand is facing perhaps the toughest time that almost anyone alive can remember.

“We are borrowing tens of billions of dollars to get us through this crisis. There is only one team that can spend it competently and well, and that is my National Party team.”

Mr Muller said he was particularly pleased senior MP Amy Adams had agreed to be the Minister for Covid-19 Recovery in his Government.

“Amy is tough and tested and will play a key role in getting you, your family and your community through this.”

Notable is that positions two to four are women, his deputy Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams who has changed her mind about quitting politics this year, and the formidable Judith Collins who has challenged for the leadership herself in the past.

So now three of the top four National MPs are women, four of the top eight, and seven of the top sixteen, female MPs have become a significant part of the National caucus.

However with Simon Bridges unranked “reflecting on his future” and Paula Bennett  dropped to thirteen it has been noted that Maori representation has slipped away (not that Bridges or Bennett addressed Maori issues much).

There has been a difference of descriptions for Bridges’ current situation.

Former leader Simon Bridges has said he needs time to reflect on his future. Mr Muller said there would be a place for him in his Cabinet should he decide to stay in politics.

But Newshub says Defiant Simon Bridges smacks down Todd Muller’s assertion he’s ‘considering his future’, plans to stay on

After being rolled on Friday by Todd Muller, a defiant Bridges has told Newshub he won’t be pushed from the party.

“Just to be clear, after the reshuffle today, I am not considering my future,” Bridges told Newshub. “Just having a small amount of time out to take stock after the loss on Friday.”

This was a direct smack-down to Muller suggesting Bridges was considering his future.

It doesn’t seem much like a ‘smackdown’ to me, just Bridges putting his situation in his own words. And it is likely to take him a bit of time to take stock of his political future.

The full lineup and allocation of portfolios here:

Click to access National_Party_portfolio_allocations.pdf

Time will tell how Muller and his team perform. They get their first chance in Parliament today in Question Time, it will be interesting to see how Muller handles his first stint there as leader.

Political operators and lobbyists being used by media promoting leadership coup

The media were always going to give a lot of coverage to a major party leadership challenge, as they did when Simon Bridges outed the challenge of Todd Muller and the subsequent showdown and change of leader. It was big political news and should have received prominent coverage.

But it also showed a major flaw of the media – their use of political operators and lobbyists to comment on the story.

Matthew Hooton is often used by the media in support of stories, even though he is a professional lobbyist. He was given a shot at promoting his agenda without having to disclose any possible involvement in the challenge.

And Michelle Boag suddenly popped up out of the woodwork to and was quoted a number of times in support of a change. She would be most unlikely to be an independent observer.

NZ Herald – Anatomy of a coup: How Todd Muller felled Simon Bridges and who helped him

This is behind their paywall, but a key part is repeated on Twitter:


RNZ 18 May: Labour surges, National plummets in Newshub-Reid Research poll

“Clearly the leadership has failed. Simon Bridges is down to 4.5 percent. The public simply does not like him, that isn’t fair, the public simply did not like Andrew Little.

“He’s a perfectly pleasant person Andrew Little but the public did not like him, and so Labour had no choice in the end but to get rid of him, and National is now at that point.”

RNZ 19 May: Political poll results with Hooton and Jones

“This is a 25-point gap between National and Labour and that’s simply extraordinary. And the National Party has to take that very seriously, they are taking it seriously, although they do expect another poll to come out on Thursday from TVNZ by Colmar Brunton, and they’ll just see what that has to say.

“If it is as bad as this, I would expect there would be enormous pressure on the current leader and deputy leader to at least offer their resignations to the caucus.

However, a better showing in the Colmar Brunton polling might give Simon Bridges a lifeline, he says.

A “hunk” of National MPs are reluctant to be responding to polls, Hooton says.

“Their views on this is what’s going to decide Simon Bridges future.”

RNZ 21 May (audio): Collins key to National Party battle – Hooton  Political commentator Matthew Hooton speaks to Kim Hill.

RNZ 21 May: Simon Bridges’ tactics likely to lose him the leadership challenge – commentator

Political commentator Matthew Hooton said Bridges’ move to call the leadership vote was an own goal.

“I think it was another example of the poor political judgement that has plagued his political leadership quite frankly.

“I think Simon Bridges’ move yesterday was probably one of the most extraordinary acts of political harikari that we’ve seen.”

Hooton said Muller’s supporters would likely have lost their nerve there would have been no challenge.

“But by taunting Muller, forcing him and … Nikki Kaye to act … there is now a vote on Friday.

“And I think, the way this is going, Mr Bridges will lose and Muller will become leader of the party.

If Bridges survived the leadership vote it would cost the party any chance of winning the election in September, he said.

If Muller and Kaye failed in their challenge Bridges would demote them to the backbenches which would cost the party votes.

“He cannot afford to lose Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye from his senior team, or else he will lose support from both farmers, provincial New Zealanders, and also urban liberals in Auckland.

RNZ 22 May (audio): Commentator backing Muller to win National Party challenge Political commentator Matthew Hooton is supporting Muller to win – Kim Hill asked him how close does he expect the vote to be.

But Hooton was promoting leadership change – in a last NZ herald column last month (24 April) Matthew Hooton (column): Simon Bridges’ leadership beyond salvaging

Hooton is a regular on RNZ and in NZ Herald and is usually a worthwhile commentator, but it’s fair to ask whether his opinions promoted this week were independent of the leadership coup.

If it turns out he was working for Muller that would not reflect well on him due to lack of disclosure, but woukld also refelct poorly onn the media who give him free publicity.

Michelle Boag is not a regular on media, but managed to be given a say on the challenge too.

Newstalk ZB 19 May – Michelle Boag: Bridges could be another victim of Covid-19 fallout

Michelle Boag says it’s no surprise people have responded positively to the Prime Minister – whose ratings shot up to almost 60 percent.

She told Chris Lynch Arden’s been visible everywhere during the pandemic and Bridges hasn’t.

“There is no doubt there’s a good chance of him becoming yet another victim of Covid-19.”

She says that will be up to the Caucus to decide the leader’s fate.

RNZ 21 May: Former National Party president Michelle Boag on leadership challenge Former National Party president Michelle Boag speaks to Corin Dann.

RNZ 21 May: Simon Bridges’ tactics likely to lose him the leadership challenge – commentator

Former National Party president Michelle Boag told Morning Report Bridges shot himself in the foot by holding the vote tomorrow rather than next week.

This was because it made it harder for other leadership contenders to jump into the race, and those unhappy with Bridges’ leadership could rally around one candidate rather than their votes being split between a number of challengers.

However calling for the leadership vote was the right decision, she said.

“I think it’s the right thing for the National Party to get this sorted as quickly as possible and I think the caucus will be really pleased to have an early opportunity to do that.”

She said the need for a leadership vote was not solely prompted by the recent poll.

“It is about months and months, and sometimes years, of these MPs having negative feedback about their leader, not only from party members but from constituents.

“So while the poll may have been the thing that sparked [it] – the catalyst for this challenge – there’s no doubt this has been building for a long time.”

Boag popping up in media is a sure sign that she is promoting some sort of outcome.

I think that with important political issues, and leadership changes rank right up there, media should take care not to promote people with interests in the outcomes.

Cameron Slater, one of the most agenda driven political operators around, was given some oxygen by John Banks on radio during the week to talk about the National leadership challenge, but the only leader Slater seems interested in promoting these days is Winston Peters.

Todd Muller – new National leader

Todd Muller successfully challenged Simon Bridges for the leadership of National yesterday. In the end it looked like a well planned and well executed change.

In his first media conference as leader Muller actually looked well prepared and presented himself very well. He said a number of smart things in his prepared speech, and looked very capable handling questions from journalists.

His choice of Nikki Kaye as deputy provides a good balance (urban liberal beside his conservative rural), and she has been an able and successful MP (she twice defeated Ardern on the Auckland Central electorate).

I think this change had to happen, and with Muller’s focus on rebuilding communities after the impact of Covid-19, and also his business experience promoted in pushing for an economic recovery, this will enhance our political landscape.

His speech began:

The past few months, our country has made many sacrifices.

You have made many sacrifices. You have put a lot on the line to get us through this crisis.

Now, we must begin taking another step forward together, with confidence.

The confidence to rebuild our country, rebuild our economy and to restore the livelihoods of New Zealanders.

Only a National government can provide the leadership to do that.

That is why we must win the next election.

While well behind in the polls right now Muller has to at least be seen to be aiming for a win in the election.

My absolute focus as National Party Leader will be New Zealand’s economic recovery.

We will save jobs, get the economy growing again and we will do so by leveraging our country’s great strengths: our people, our communities, our great natural resources, our values of hard work, tenacity, innovation and aspiration.

This is an obvious focus for a National leader, and it is seen as a key in the upcoming election (in September). The Government has handled the health side of the pandemic very well (mostly) but the crunch will be repairing the economic effects.

Yes, I’ve run businesses. I can read a balance sheet and a profit and loss account.  I can tell a good one from a bad one.  And yes, I’ll bring those skills to the Prime Ministership.

But that’s not what drives me.

What drives me is community – the people who help their elderly neighbours with the lawns on the weekend; The Dad who does the food stall at the annual school fair; The Mum who coaches a touch rugby team;

This election will be about the economy, but not the economy the bureaucracy talks about. It’ll be about the economy that you live in – the economy in your community – your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism business, your local rugby league club, your local butcher, your kura, your netball courts, your farms, your shops and your families.

This is the economy National MPs are grounded in, and the one that matters most to New Zealand.

For too long this economy, your economy – and your life – has been invisible to decision makers in Wellington.

This addresses a lot of grizzles one hears about bureaucrats dominating, out of touch with ordinary people.

Muller addressed things that had been an image problem for Bridges.

This is what you can expect from my leadership: First and foremost – I’m about what’s best for you and your family – not what’s wrong with the Government.

And I’m not interested in opposition for opposition’s sake. We’re all tired of that kind of politics.

However he also took some gentle sounding but fairly scathing swipes

Will I criticise the government?  Yes.

Labour has failed against every measure it has set for itself in Government- KiwiBuild, Light Rail, child poverty, prison numbers.

If we continue on this track of talking a big game but failing to deliver, we simply won’t recognise the New Zealand we are part of in a few years’ time.

…but ultimately, values and ideas are what ground me.

Like the idea that you can shape your own future and are free to do so.

I believe in enterprise, reward for hard work, personal responsibility, and in the power of strong families and communities.

Very National Party.

Fundamentally, I don’t believe that for each and everyone of us to do better, someone else has to be worse off.

Sounds fine, but very difficult thing to avoid in practice.

In response to questions he praised Jacinda Ardern and her Government’s efforts dealing with Covid, but highlighted perceived weaknesses.

He said that while Ardern and her top three or so ministers were doing well but said the quality or ability dropped off very quickly after that. The lack of depth in the current Cabinet has often been claimed. At one stage he refereed to ‘seventeen empty seats”.

Muller is a good speaker, he had a well written, carefully worded and targeted speech, and he made a very good first impression. Unlike Bridges he got the balance about right between promoting his and his party’s own credentials, acknowledging achievements of the current Government, but also making strong criticisms where there are weaknesses without sounding too negative.

It will be a huge task to get National back up and competitive with Labour, and even then National has a lack of potential coalition partners (but he didn’t rule out reconsidering the caucus decision not to deal with NZ First).

But if Muller continues the way he started he should do a better job at holding the Government to account and promoting a viable alternative.

He said that being open and authentic was important – hopefully he won’t be taken over by remodelling media minders.

He has already shown that he is ambitious and determined – and must have set up a good team of helpers.

He has already succeeded in a number of things:

  • A successful career in the kiwifruit industry and with Fonterra
  • Being nominated for and winning a safe-ish electorate
  • Quietly but successfully becoming established as a back bench MP
  • Doing a lot of work in his role as spokesperson on agriculture and horticulture(that’s going to be important on the recovery)
  • His work with James Shaw on a Carbon Zero Bill that had cross party support
  • Picking the right time to successfully roll Bridges
  • Kicking off his leadership with a very good speech and session with journalists.
  • His choice of Nikki Kaye as deputy provides a good balance, and she has been a good and successful MP (she twice defeated Ardern on the Auckland Central electorate).

It’s very early days, but Muller should at least be able to stem the rapuid slide of National, should be able to recover some ground and may be able to get back to at least some semblance of competitiveness this election.

He may not become Prime Minister later this year, but if he does well but doesn’t make it he should be able to keep his job to continue the rebuilding of National next term.

Full speech: Todd Muller new National Leader

Muller indicated that Paul Goldsmith will remain as National’s spokesperson on Finance but said it would take a few days to work out the new lineup and roles, which is obvious.He had a few senior MPs lined up beside him as he gave his speech.

A bit will depend on what Bridges and his also deposed deputy Paula Bennett decide to do about their futures in politics.

New National leader today looks likely

The National caucus is scheduled to meet at noon today to decide whether to dump Simon Bridges and replace him as their leader with probably Todd Muller (there are other rumours floating around but I doubt they will come to anything).

A bad poll for National and bridges on Tuesday gave impetus to a coup that seems to have alre3ady been fomenting. Bridges foorced the issue in Wednesday, calling the caucus meeting for Friday. Another bad poll for both National (29%) and Bridges (bugger all %) yesterday confirmed the party’s dire situation.

Media are talking as if it’s almost a done deal against Bridges. It’s possible he may step down before high noon.

Richard Harman (Politik): D-day for Bridges

Bridges camp was aware last night that defeat was likely today.

They must have been startled yesterday by reports of significant defections of caucus heavyweights from Leader Simon Bridges’ support. The confirmation on One News Colmar Brunton poll of National’s low rating appears to have simply added to the pressure for change.

It is even possible that Bridges might – for the sake of party unity — decide to resign before the caucus meeting.

NZ Herald – National Party showtime: Simon Bridges and Todd Muller prepare for leadership battle

Yesterday, neither the Bridges nor the Muller camp seemed certain they had the 28 votes needed, but both claimed to have strong numbers and one MP involved said it was looking “very, very close.”

The poll result may have changed that for MPs still wavering.

Muller’s camp said the poll results showed there was an urgent need for a change in leadership to reclaim that lost ground – and even Bridges’ own supporters acknowledged the poll would make it a lot harder for Bridges.

Newshub: National Party MPs prepare for midday Simon Bridges, Todd Muller leadership contest

Until Thursday night, the numbers looked to be evenly balanced with neither side willing to claim a majority but the 29 percent result seems to have pushed a group of undecided MPs towards the Muller camp, and potentially some who had been backing Bridges.

MPs talk about acting in the best interests of the party but what will be motivating many – namely list MPs and those in marginal seats – is self interest; with these poll numbers many would be out of Parliament.

So the outcome looks uncertain at this stage, publicly at least.

If Bridges hangs on it is likely to be dire for National. He already looks like damaged goods, and a close win will just highlight that lack of strong support for him in caucus, and the public are likely to see him as a lame duck leader.

If Muller wins it won’t be easy to even stop the bleeding of support let alone rebuilding it. He has had a low political profile and is unknown by most voters, but he has the advantages of not being Bridges and having no known baggage. He also has a probable advantage of polls just having been done – it will be a while before there’s another poll so will give him a chance to get established.

I would be most unlikely top vote for National led by Bridges, he has rarely impressed me and I don’t like the direction he seems to be taking the party.

If Muller or someone else I will take time to decide whether i think the change is for the better of not. It’s impossible to know how people will come across as leaders until they have had a go for a while.

We will find out some time today who will have the job of trying to revive a party with evaporating support.

Bridges fighting for leadership but numbers may be against him

Simon Bridges precipitated a quick resolution to the leadership challenge against him. he National caucus will meet at in Wellington at noon on Friday to decide whether to dump Bridges.

At this stage there is only one challenger, Todd Muller, with Nikki Kaye proposed as his deputy. Both Judith Collins and Mark Mitchell have said they will not challenge, and they probably don’t have time to change their minds due to the rushed timeframe.

Richard Harman thinks that Muller probably has the numbers to roll Bridges: How Bridges flushed out Muller

National Leader Simon Bridges was last night phoning caucus members trying to win enough votes to stave off a vote of no confidence this Friday. But it is probably too late.

Multiple sources have told POLITIK that there is a majority who want him out.

If the vote succeeds, there is only one challenger for the leadership, Bay of Plenty MP, Todd Muller.

The other possible contender, Papakura MP, Judith Collins, has made it clear she will not be standing.

POLITIK understands it was Collins who first alerted Bridges to Muller’s challenge last Saturday. One source told POLITIK she told him that there was a majority in the caucus who opposed him continuing in the leadership.

From Simon Bridges vs Todd Muller: It’s all about the big W for National

Yet as it stood late yesterday, the Bridges forces were confident of their numbers, which importantly, includes a lot of the heavyweights on the party’s front bench and within the party including shadow cabinet members Paul Goldsmith, Todd McClay, Michael Woodhouse, Judith Collins, Mark Mitchell, and Brett Hudson. Between them they cover the portfolios of finance, trade, economic development, defence, justice, health, and police.

But team Muller is also confident it has the numbers, especially as at least 16 current MPs are facing unemployment if the numbers from Monday night’s poll are replicated on election night. Muller himself is calling or meeting with every MP he can.

Woodhouse, Goldsmith and Hudson are in precarious situations – on current polling they could easily lose their seats in Parliament.

It’s standard for defenders and contenders to claim to have the numbers, but that could be bluff and bluster, and numbers can easily change, especially if MPs sense which way a decision may go, and consider their political careers.

A challenge isn’t much of a surprise. Bridges has failed to appeal to most voters, and support for national has slipped badly over the last two months.

Stuff has details on Muller: Todd Muller, the man who could be prime minister

Detractors lash Muller as a return to the “pale, stale, male” era of big business and bigger egos the party should have left behind.

But Muller backers equally make the point that if National plans to torch Labour for a lack of private-sector experience, Crown prosecutor-cum-MP Bridges might not be the man to do it.

A 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll, completed last night and to be revealed tonight, is likely to add to the numbers against Bridges.

Muller is not well known but that would change, to an extent, if he took over the leadership. He would still battle in the shadow of Jacinda Ardern’s media profile, but the hope must be that he can at least stem the bleeding of support for National.

Matthew Hooton on RNZ this morning called Bridges’ calling of an urgent meeting an act of political harikari, although claims that earlier in the week Muller was a couple of votes short. he thinks that Bridges’ action yesterday may have swung numbers against him.