8 Dec 2016

Bennett says she's right for deputy as she's about people

1:14 pm on 8 December 2016

Government minister Paula Bennett would bring her skills in engaging with people to a role as deputy Prime Minister, she says.

National Party MPs meet at Parliament on Monday to vote for the new leader and deputy after Prime Minister John Key announced on Monday he was stepping down.

So far Mrs Bennett and Simon Bridges have said they want the deputy role and both ministers yesterday backed Bill English as leader.

Justice Minister Amy Adams, who had said she was leaving the door open on the position of deputy, has confirmed today she will not be seeking the role.

Mrs Bennett said Mr English had not endorsed her but was encouraging when she told him she was putting her name forward.

"But I'm sure he encouraged Simon [Bridges] as well, as he should."

Mr English so far appears to be the front runner in the leadership contest, with the support of 21 MPs. There has yet to be any public declaration in favour of Jonathan Coleman and Judith Collins, who have also thrown their hats in the ring.

Mrs Bennett told Morning Report she would support the leader by engaging with people and issues.

"It's the people and the relationship stuff that really rocks my boat - and we get to do something in Parliament that makes a huge difference in their life."

The last two prime ministers have chosen a finance minister as deputy, and though Mrs Bennett is currently Associate Finance Minister she said she was not putting her name forward for the deputy role to get a particular portfolio.

Along with the finance role Mrs Bennett is Minister for Climate Change, State Services and Social Housing. In the social housing portfolio, she said, she had fixed the "bumps" in policy on emergency housing.

The government was criticised over its reponse to homelessness and Mrs Bennett said in the middle of the year "everyone wanted everything faster and better".

But she said the policy could not be rushed.

"For those bumps that were there I have turned it round, I have fixed it."

She was the right person for the role because she could bring caucus together and give them a different voice and different policy platform.

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