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National’s new leadership team of Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye gives Nelson and New Zealand a real and serious choice about how we recover from the economic fallout from Covid-19.

The hundreds of local job losses already has Nelson and Tasman topping the wrong charts. The Ministry of Social Development has unemployment benefits up 500% on last year and growing faster than other regions. Nelson’s Economic Development Agency says the fallout has just begun forecasting a loss of 4,000 local jobs in the next year. Forecasts also predict hundreds of Nelson businesses to go broke.

Todd Muller’s first statement as National’s leader shows he gets the scale of the economic challenge facing regions like Nelson saying “The election will be about the economy, but not the economy the bureaucracy talks about. It will be about the economy you live in – your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism businesses, your football club, your local butcher, your kura, your netball courts, your farms, your shops and your families.”

Actions speak louder than words. Senior politicians like to take on glamorous portfolios like the Arts (Jacinda Ardern) Sports (Grant Robertson) and Tourism (John Key). That Todd Muller has chosen the Small Business portfolio shows grit. His commitment is to support the recovery of New Zealand’s 500,000 small businesses, including 8,000 in our region.

Todd’s background from a kiwifruit orcharding family also includes leadership roles in Fonterra, Zespri and the avocado industry. He gets horticulture and exporting that are so important to Nelson. His time on the Waikato University Council and as a Director of Plant and Food Research shows he is future focussed and values science. His statement that “I’m not interested in opposition for opposition’s sake” is consistent with his leadership in persuading National to support the Government’s Climate Change Commission legislation.

New Deputy Leader Nikki Kaye is a talented woman who will be a powerful voice for young people and our urban communities. She comfortably beat Jacinda Ardern in 2011 and 2014 for the Auckland Central Electorate. She is a genetic scientist, lawyer, accomplished athlete and recently recovered from breast cancer. She has had ministerial experience in Education, Civil Defence and ACC.

National is best placed to lead Nelson and New Zealand’s economic recovery. We did it in the 1990s when unemployment soared to 10% post the 1987 crash and again in 2013s post the Global Financial Crisis, restoring jobs, growth and prosperity. The problem for the current Government is they don’t understand business and believe big spending is the answer to every woe. They are great at bold announcements like the 100,000 Kiwibuild homes, Auckland Light Rail or a Billion Trees Programme but have proved unable to deliver.  

National will be outlining our clear plans to save jobs and rebuild the economy in the coming weeks. My new role in Todd Muller’s line up is working with Amy Adams on these Covid-19 recovery policies. Our focus is on how we stem job losses, restore business confidence and get Nelson and New Zealand working again.     

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