Fal­loon ‘thrilled’ with Na­tional’s lead­er­ship choice

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

Ran­gi­tata MP An­drew Fal­loon says the new leader of the Na­tional Party, Si­mon Bridges, is the right per­son to hold the Govern­ment to ac­count.

Fal­loon said he was thrilled Bridges had been elected, and said he was some­one who had a huge amount of ex­pe­ri­ence in some tough port­fo­lios.

Bridges emerged vic­to­ri­ous from a cau­cus vote to de­cide the next leader of the party on Tues­day.

Paula Ben­nett was elected deputy leader in a process that saw two rounds of vot­ing for both. Bridges cited ‘‘cau­cus con­fi­den­tial­ity’’ in re­fus­ing to re­veal who ran against Ben­nett for deputy.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence af­ter the vote, Bridges said his lead­er­ship would see the party hold the Govern­ment to ac­count, by be­ing ‘‘firm but fair.’’

‘‘Since be­com­ing an MP in Septem­ber I’ve worked closely with Si­mon in the role as spokesman on re­gional de­vel­op­ment and im­mi­gra­tion, two is­sues that are im­port- ant for our district,’’ Fal­loon said.

‘‘Much of that work has cen­tred on how we can en­sure that our re­gion con­tin­ues to grow strongly, so he has a good ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the is­sues we have here.’’

Fal­loon said Bridges has backed plans to see more in­fras­truc­ture spend­ing in South Can­ter­bury.

He said Bridges also op­poses Labour’s pro­posal to di­vert petrol taxes into Auck­land rail projects.

In Jan­uary the Govern­ment flagged changes to al­low road taxes to be spent on rail projects.

South Can­ter­bury’s may­ors were push­ing for more cash for the re­gion’s rail­ways, but didn’t want it to come at the ex­pense of the road­ing net­work.

Ti­maru’s Da­mon Odey, Macken­zie’s Gra­ham Smith and Wai­mate’s Craig Row­ley echoed con­cerns raised by Fal­loon about the plan to look again at how spend­ing on rail is in­cor­po­rated into the Na­tional Land Trans­port Fund (NLTF).

Bridges said a reshuf­fle would oc­cur within the party in the com­ing weeks. Long touted as one of the fron­trun­ners to re­place the re­tir­ing Bill English, he was the first to gain ma­jor­ity sup­port in the five-strong field.

The party went be­hind closed doors on Tues­day morn­ing in the process that ended with Bridges as leader. The vote fol­lowed a twoweek can­di­date runoff.

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