The Bay of Plenty has had the unusual experience in recent weeks of seeing Western Bay MP Todd Muller unseat Tauranga colleague Simon Bridges from the role of opposition leader, only to step down abruptly from the role for health and family reasons and in turn be replaced by Judith Collins. The party now seems to have settled down under its new leader.
Muller – who has been on leave but will be active in the run-up to the polls – spoke to the Bay of Plenty Business News for this issue, and emphasised the coming election was the most important in years.
“No matter what your political persuasion, this election is not ‘a business as usual’ election,” he said.
“The choice this September, will boil down to who has the breadth of policy, capability and in particular experience, to best run the country for the next three very tough three years,” he said.
“The current three party Coalition Government simply do not see the world through the same lens and their record over the last three years demonstrates it.
“All of their substantial priorities, be it housing, roading, child poverty, all have gone backwards or stalled.
“They inherited an economy with $19 billion in projected surpluses and by this last February – before Covid-19 hit – they were budgeting an annual deficit.”
Locally Muller said he saw a huge need for infrastructure and services investment to support the city’s growth.
“My family moved here in 1974, it has been a huge part of my life and I feel very privileged to represent the Bay in parliament,” he said. “My recent personal experience has strengthened my resolve to walk alongside our many local families who are walking through very challenging journeys and make sure we have the services and support we need here in the Bay.”
“I think we can provide answers to Tauranga’s growth.” – Simon Bridges
Bridges told the Bay of Plenty Times he was happy in his new roles and keen to engage with the Government.
“I think we can provide answers to Tauranga’s growth,” he said. “If you’re a business it’s getting harder and harder to live in our city because of housing affordabilty, and it’s getting harder and harder to get around.”
National was also more likely to introduce business enabling policies if it won government, he added.
“We have more small to large businesspeople and entrepreneurs in our team than the Government and we show leadership on business issues. You can expect us to get in fast and cut the red tape.”