National's Nicola Willis party's new finance spokesperson

Source: 1News

National's deputy leader Nicola Willis has been announced as the party's new finance spokesperson.

Nicola Willis of the National Party.

It comes after Simon Bridges announced he was retiring from politics on Tuesday.

"Kiwis are going backwards under Labour, and Nicola will take the Government to task over the cost of living crisis and their wasteful spending decisions," leader Christopher Luxon said.

"Nicola has an incredible intellect, prodigious work ethic and proven ability to hold the Government to account as we've seen her do on housing. She will build on National's track record as the best economic managers to help Kiwis get ahead."

Touching on her experience, Luxon said Willis had served as a "very effective" member of Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Select Committee and that she had held a number of senior management roles at Fonterra.

Willis keeps the social investment portfolio.

Asked what the new role meant to her, Willis replied: "Women are half of the economy and often it's women who are making the big spending decisions for their household.

"I see absolutely every reason why it's good to have a woman in this role, which should be very focused on how can we make sure New Zealand households are getting ahead and feel that they have good prospects for the future.

"So I'm really looking forward to the opportunity. I can see great challenges for New Zealand's economy and for New Zealanders, but I think with good government we can resolve them."

Willis said she was "excited" the party had a good team with the skills needed to "present a really good fiscal plan for New Zealand and most importantly an economic growth plan and that's what we’re doing".

Asked what the biggest issue in finance is right now, Willis replied: "The cost of living crisis is a massive challenge for every New Zealand household and the best thing the Government could do right now is let New Zealanders keep a little bit more of their money by providing them tax reductions in the upcoming budget. We believe that at a time when it's not just fuel prices going up, it's the groceries, it's rent, it's the interest bill, New Zealanders need some relief and we will continue to push for sensible, tax reduction."

In the medium term, she said: "I'm deeply concerned that we are going to see a massive brain drain from New Zealand. And that's because when our borders open, I think we're going to have a lot of young New Zealanders who have given up hope. They're seeing costs run laps around their wage growth, they're seeing that the opportunity to buy a home is vastly diminished, and they're seeing that their skills are often well remunerated offshore. So we have a challenge to keep our talented people here in New Zealand and in the longer term we have a challenge to ensure this is a more productive economy that can pay people more."

Goldsmith promoted

The changes mean Chris Bishop will move to the party's number three ranking, while Dr Shane Reti has been promoted to number four on National's front bench.

Paul Goldsmith is now number five. He was previously finance spokesperson for a period in 2019 and 2020.

He lost the role after the party made a number of economic gaffes.

He now held the justice and workplace relations portfolios.

"We all make mistakes," leader Luxon said on Wednesday.

"It's how you get off the floor. You get beat up pretty badly in this job and so it's how you respond to it, I think is important. I think he's done that very well."

Bishop will pick up the party's infrastructure and housing portfolios. He will remain the Covid-19 response spokesperson and Shadow Leader of the House.

"I know he's going to bring a lot of intellectual grunt to help us shape both these portfolios and policies in these areas of infrastructure and housing," Luxon said.

"The Labour government doesn't have a plan for the economy. National will continue to hold them to account on the cost of living crisis, their wasteful spending and their failure to get things done for New Zealand."

Luxon had opened his press conference on Wednesday by thanking Bridges: "I do before I begin just want to acknowledge yet again the great contribution of Simon Bridges over the last 14 years.

"I think he's been a great champion for Tauranga as I've said, a great champion for New Zealand and a great champion for the National Party.

"We're going to miss him, but we're going to wish him tremendously all the greatest success as he takes on a new commercial career as he goes forward with his life outside of politics. Thank you Simon and we wish you all the very best."