John Key new leader of New Zealand National Party

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Today at a special caucus meeting, member of parliaments (MP) for National agreed that the new leader of the opposition, New Zealand's National Party, is John Key and the deputy leader is Bill English. They are taking over from past leader, Dr Don Brash and past deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee.

Dr Brash quit last week as he thought he was damaging the image of the National Party and Gerry Brownlee didn't seek leadership or to continue being the deputy.

Bill English, 45-years-old, is the former leader of the National Party. He was outed in 2003, for a bad performance at the 2002 New Zealand elections, and replaced by Dr Brash. Mr English only managed to get 22% of the votes cast.

John Key, also 45-years-old, said at the announcement of the new leader and deputy leader that he was honoured that he was chosen to be the new leader of the National Party and also honoured that Mr English would be his deputy. "Can I tell you I think we will make a formidable team," he said. Key said the public placed a high value on unity.

"The new leadership represents the future," and Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and deputy PM, Michael Cullen "represent the past," Mr Key said.

Mr English had supported Mr Key as long as he was promised the position of deputy.

Murray McCully, strategy manager, met Mr English, Mr Key and Simon Power, supporter of Mr English, in Auckland where they discussed and finalised the takeover of the party.

Mr Key said: "...It was critical that we proved we can manage ourselves. If we do that successfully then we can earn the right to manage the country. People definitely took the view they were putting the party before themselves."

Mr English said that he believes that he and Mr Key will be the leaders for several elections.

The political editor for Newstalk ZB and Prime News, Barry Soper, said: "The two forty-somethings give the party a new, young look. It is a meteoric rise for John Key. The 45-year-old only rejoined the National Party less than 10 years ago, and became an MP just over four years ago. However, it is still not as meteoric as Don Brash's rise to the job - he had only been an MP for a year when he was made leader."

Dr Brash will however stay on the National Party. He is at number 3 on the list of National MPs, behind Key and English. His new caucus responsibilities will be Spokesman for the Security and Intelligence Service and Spokesman for Relationships with Non-Government Parties. His select committee responsibility is Security and Intelligence.

Since 1999 when New Zealand Labour Party took power, National has had four leaders which has given an image to the public of instability. Mr Key is the fifth leader.

Mr English will now be the finance spokesman taking over from Mr Key.

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