When Bill English announced his resignation as leader of the Opposition, a new leader was needed. However, the vote to choose a new leader did not happen until this week. Five National Party MPs put their names forward to be the leader. The members of the National Party caucus – 56 of them – voted and chose Simon Bridges. Paula Bennett is the Deputy Leader again.
The leader of the Opposition is called the worst position in Parliament because that person has the main responsibility for getting his or her party back into the government. It’s not easy being in the Opposition. The job of the Opposition is to question the government, and to check what the government does. The Opposition will often give alternative ideas instead.
Simon Bridges is aged 41 and is part Maori. He is the first ever Maori National Party leader and the party hopes that Maori will vote for National in the future. Simon Bridges calls himself a ‘compassionate conservative’. The first word suggests caring for others and the second is someone who does not like change. He voted against the same sex marriage bill. The National Party is the conservative party. He joined the Young Nationals when he was only 16.
He was a lawyer before becoming the MP for Tauranga in 2008. He is married with two young children.
He was chosen as leader partly because he is young. He is close in age to the Prime Minister (she is 38) and before she became the Prime Minister they were often on a breakfast TV programme at the same time but debating different ideas. Now we have two leaders who are younger than traditional leaders of Parliamentary parties.
• MP – Member of Parliament
• caucus – all the MPs of that party
• to debate – to argue about different opinions