Falloon ‘thrilled’ with National’s leadership choice
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.