10 Nov 2020

Shane Reti becomes new deputy leader of the National Party

3:08 pm on 10 November 2020

Shane Reti has been elected deputy leader of the National Party, unopposed, in today's caucus meeting.

Watch the announcement here:

Judith Collins was also reconfirmed as party leader, with no challengers.

"It is an enormous privilege to be reconfirmed as leader of the National Party," she said in a statement issued shortly after the vote, "I'm looking forward to leading a strong, united and focused Opposition that will deliver for all New Zealanders."

The caucus met this morning to decide who would slot into the number two spot after Gerry Brownlee announced he would step aside late last week.

In the days after the election, he took some responsibility for the disastrous election result, also having been campaign chair.

Collins this afternoon said "both Dr Shane and I were elected in the post unopposed".

She said it was an "extremely positive" meeting.

"It's a great start. We've gone through a gruelling and difficult campaign, Dr Shane was with me through that campaign.

"The best way to get forward is to focus on what we need to do."

Dr Reti, a former GP, came to Parliament in 2014 as the MP for Whangārei and has been health spokesperson under Collins' leadership. He lost the seat in last month's election and is now a list MP.

He will retain the health portfolio.

Collins described Dr Reti as a "hard-working, intelligent MP with all the skills needed to be an effective leader".

"His detailed examination and prosecution of the government's handling of Covid-19 helped improve the response for New Zealanders."

"Dr Reti's knowledge and history working in the health sector will be an asset as Parliament deals with the impact of Covid-19. His experience will be invaluable to me as deputy leader and I'm looking forward to working closer with him."

Dr Reti said he was proud to have the support of the caucus.

"Hopefully, I am complementary to what Gerry brought to the table. Caucus has seen me as a safe pair of hands and hardworking pair of hands - all attributes that Gerry has as well."

When asked about appointing Dr Reti to the role, Collins said when Jacinda Ardern became the Labour leader before the 2017 elections, she had no ministerial experience either, "doesn't seem to have hurt her".

Comparing himself to former National Prime Minister Bill English, Dr Reti said he was more suited for the deputy role because he was "more akin to say less and do more".

Discussions of him taking over as deputy had been ongoing for several weeks, he said.

"We're placed here on our merits... I'm very proud to be Māori, you'll see that in our representation in the senior management of the leadership team."

He said National was focused on meeting the needs of New Zealanders.

Dr Reti said he had worked with Collins for a while, and she had "the skills, the compassion, she's got all the attributes that New Zealand would want in a prime minister and she will be successful".

"She is my dream leader. She is the leader who I work behind here at the moment and she has my complete support."

Heading into today's caucus meeting, Brownlee endorsed Dr Reti to take over the role.

"The issues the country is going to face over the next couple of years are going to be much more determined by the Covid-19 response," he said.

"Shane Reti will provide good support for Judith given that particular focus."

Reti was also believed to be Collins' favoured option, but ahead of the meeting she refused to publicly reveal her preference.

"My preferred option will be whoever caucus delivers," Collins said.

Per the party's rules, Collins also faced a confidence vote, but told reporters she expected to retain the leadership.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay and list MP Michael Woodhouse had been touted as potential contenders for the deputy position, but both ruled out making a tilt.

"I won't be offering myself in that role," Woodhouse said. "I wish the person who does get that role every success."

McClay told reporters Reti was the "best person" for the job.

"He resonates with New Zealanders, he has a very good command of some important policy areas, and he has the respect of caucus."

Former leadership aspirant Mark Mitchell also ruled out a run for the deputy position.

He said he would wait to see who was nominated, but saw merit in having a "genuine medical doctor" in the leadership team during a pandemic.

Matt Doocey has been appointed senior whip and Maureen Pugh to junior whip.

Doocey declined to say who he would support, but described Reti as a "top guy" whom the caucus was lucky to have.

Collins had earlier signalled she would unveil her new line-up and their responsibilities after the leadership team was confirmed.

She was coy when questioned about the reshuffle, but told reporters to expect "surprises".

"Anything that happens in the caucus stays in the caucus," Collins said.

It is widely expected that list MP Paul Goldsmith will lose the finance portfolio following a series of errors in the party's alternative budget.

"We were fighting hard to win an election," Goldsmith said.

"We had a very bad result, I had a senior role, and I'm fully accountable."

The caucus also selected Matt Doocey as Senior Whip and Maureen Pugh as Junior Whip.

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