9 Dec 2016

Political commentators: Matthew Hooton and Stephen Mills

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 9 December 2016

Little more than 72 hours after John Key’s shock resignation New Zealand will have a New Prime Minister

Bill English will be confirmed by the National Party caucus on Monday after the other two contenders, Jonathan Coleman and Judith Collins, dropped out of the race yesterday.

Stephen Mills, left, and Matthew Hooton.

Stephen Mills, left, and Matthew Hooton. Photo: RNZ/Dru Faulkner

Political commentator Matthew Hooton says English has the overwhelming support of caucus, and public polling has him as the most preferred successor to Key.

But he says the process to select the next Prime Minister was not a real contest.

“This was a perfectly executed coup over the last three days.

“It was something that John Key and Bill English have had an opportunity to think about for a couple of months and it was perfectly executed by them and also by Steven Joyce and Murray McCully and Gerry Brownlee.

“And they attempted to railroad the caucus into a new regime that was essentially John Key’s government without John Key … [and] they have largely succeeded.

“We will see if they have had a totally success on Monday, if they are successful in imposing Paula Bennett on as deputy leader of the party.”

The only flies in the ointment were that there were challenges for the leadership at all, although they were swiftly dealt with, and that Simon Bridges candidacy for deputy was not part of the plan.

Hooton says English needs to put his own stamp on the Cabinet line-up if he is to be reelected.

“The risk is that once the gloss comes off the change, and without John Key’s particular talents, the government will run into a bit of trouble.” 

Hooton and Stephen Mills also discuss English’s likely cabinet picks, the prospect of an early election and how the new PM will affect Labour’s chances in the 2017 election.             

Political commentator Stephen Mills says he thinks Mr English is the right choice for National and New Zealand.

English favours competence over spin and he will be more ethical and more policy heavy, Mills says.

“But for all those reasons, of course, he might lose [the 2017 election]. He didn’t connect in 2002 and I think it’s still a very moot question whether he will connect this time around." 

Mills says the caucus will vote Paula Bennett in as deputy Prime Minister on Monday as she is a good contrast with Mr English – being a woman, from the city (Auckland) and having a bubbly personality – as well as being further up the pecking order than Simon Bridges.