One of the most interesting political trajectories Bay of Plenty citizens have seen in local politics has been Western Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller’s brief tilt at the National leadership and his recently announced decision to retire at the end of his term.
Muller recently spoke with Bay of Plenty Business News on the events surrounding his decision to leave active politics.
Muller was reluctant to go into too much detail over the spat with the National leadership, which seems to have been the trigger for the move. It has been widely canvassed that his relationship with National leader Judith Collins has not been close.
“The reality that became clear recently is that the relationship with the current leadership is not good,” said Muller.
“I don’t have a particularly good relationship between myself and the leader and it’s essentially broken down, but these things happen in your personal and professional life. I’m pretty open to other options.”
Muller handily won re-election at the most recent elections and is now finishing up what will be nine years as an MP.
“It’s just become clear to me that it’s time to apply myself outside of the [parliament] building at the end of my term,” he said.
“Nine years is a decent run. You’ve got to make sure you feel you can make a contribution in a way that’s in line with your values and your approach to life. And I think certainly over the last year I have found that pretty difficult.”
Muller in a shock move just over a year ago ousted fellow Tauranga MP Simon Bridges from the leadership, but very quickly succumbed to a severe anxiety attack and soon stepped down from the leadership role.
“I was determined to come back after that if I had the support of the BOP electorate, which I did. I got back on the horse and enjoyed campaigning and door knocking. Now as we come into a year and ending a third term, I’ve decided it’s time to move on.”
Muller emphasized that he would be using his remaining time in parliament to work towards helping accomplish the party’s goals.
“But I made my resignation decision with an increasing sense of excitement about what could be around the corner,” he said.
As Muller acknowledges, it is a matter of public record that he found the leadership battle “brutal and acute” and that he had an acute breakdown, which drew widespread interest and sympathy from a large part of his electorate.
You’ve got to make sure you feel you can make a contribution in a way that’s in line with your values and your approach to life. And I think certainly over the last year I have found that pretty difficult.” – Todd Muller
Muller, who moved to Tauranga in 1970, has a long relationship with the area as had his late father who was a well-respected member of the kiwifruit industry.
Todd Muller has spent much of his working life in the kiwifruit and dairy industries and is deeply interested in agribusiness.
“I haven’t turned my mind yet to future work, but I have my focus very much on some key areas.”
These include the provision of mental health services in the BOP, and Muller is especially aggrieved that the current government has not delivered on its initial promise to improve on Tauranga’s mental health provision, especially in growing Papamoa.
He is also concerned about the flawed nexus between housing and transport provision and how inadequate both have been planned for in this city.
“It’s a real frustration for a number of years that governments have not invested in the way they should have for this city,”said Muller.
“It’s as if we’re caught in a historic paradigm that we’re a little village out by the sea as opposed to the reality that we’re now 160,000 people and the fifth biggest city in the country.”