11 Dec 2016

Future PM meets with future deputy

6:06 pm on 11 December 2016

Incoming Prime Minister Bill English met with his soon-to-be deputy, Paula Bennett, this afternoon at the Beehive.

Bill English and Paula Bennett

Bill English and Paula Bennett Photo: RNZ

They are expected to be confirmed as National's two new leaders when the party's caucus meets tomorrow and Prime Minister John Key officially resigns.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said earlier that the caucus was united, despite this week's leadership contest.

The only other contender for the deputy position, Transport Minister Simon Bridges, pulled out of the race yesterday.

Mrs Bennett said there was no division, even though some backbench MPs had supported Mr Bridges.

"We're standing united, we've had a really clean contest and debate this week, and we're coming out of it friends - but, more importantly, a group of professionals that are ready to do what's best for this country."

Mrs Bennett said she had worked closely with Mr English over the past eight years, in her former social development portfolio, and in her current social housing and associate finance portfolios.

She said they had complementary skills, and there was strength in the fact she was from Auckland and he was from Southland.

Steven Joyce, who was expected to be given the finance portfolio, said he did not expect the government would be more ideological under Mr English's leadership.

Speaking on TVNZ's Q+A this morning, Mr Joyce said it was likely there would be a few policy changes following a stocktake to be carried out over the next couple of months.

But Mr Joyce said the government's policy direction would continue to be pragmatic.

"One of the hallmarks and virtues of this government has been that it has been sensible, predictable, pragmatic, I think we've shown a flexibility and an ability to respond to circumstances."

ACT Party leader David Seymour, meanwhile, predicted National would fall in the polls following the leadership change.

Mr Seymour, currently a junior minister in Mr Key's government, said Mr English would be a better prime minister than Labour leader Andrew Little would have been.

But he told TVNZ Mr English would not be as popular in the polls as Mr Key and would likely not make 45 percent in next year's general election.

Mr Seymour said that would leave ACT as a likely coalition partner.

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