Tēnā koutou katoa and good afternoon everyone.
It’s an incredible privilege and honour to have been elected Leader of the New Zealand National Party today and I thank my colleagues for putting their trust and confidence in me.
And it is fantastic to have Nicola Willis elected as our Deputy Leader. I can tell you she will do an incredible job and we will be a formidable team.
I’d also like to thank Judith Collins for her service to the National Party during a very difficult period, and Dr Shane Reti for the dignified way he has supported our team through recent days.
Much has been made of my relative newness to Parliament but to be honest, I see it as an advantage.
I bring a fresh set of eyes, and what I see is that this place and this country needs a shake-up.
Nicola and I are fresh new faces for a revitalised National Party.
We are the reset.
Today we are drawing a line under the events of the last four years, and we are putting them behind us.
If you are one of the 413,000 voters who moved away from us, my message to you is: from today, National is back.
I have built a career out of reversing the fortunes of under-performing companies and I’ll bring that real-world experience to this role.
Under my leadership, National will use our breadth of talent and real-world experience every day to deliver for each and every New Zealander.
We will be a new National Party for New Zealand.
There will be other opportunities for me to talk more about who I am, and National’s policies and plans.
But today I want to be very clear with you about one thing: New Zealand is at a critical cross-roads as we grapple with, and emerge from, a global pandemic.
We have a choice: a choice between our current road to mediocrity, or a pathway to a more confident, aspirational and prosperous future.
New Zealand needs an alternative now more than ever to take us in the right direction – because frankly, the country is heading the wrong way.
Inflation is soaring. We are paying more than ever before at the checkout and the petrol pump, and everyday Kiwis are struggling to get ahead.
There’ll be a million Kiwis missing at Christmas dinner this year because they can’t get home to see their loved ones.
After over 100 days in lockdown, Aucklanders are still utterly confused and directionless.
Our provincial heartland feels taken for granted. Our farmers are not villains!
I know that there is a massive difference between announcements and achievement.
Talking about something gets you a headline. Actually getting things done is what improves the lives of everyday New Zealanders.
For four years, New Zealand has had a government great at delivering good PR but woeful at delivering much else.
Nice ideas and good intentions don’t pay the rent or the mortgage, educate our children, keep us healthy, keep us safe from crime and gangs, improve our mental health, lower our emissions or keep us united.
I’ve seen the incredible things that people can accomplish when they are freed up and given the tools and the choices to seize opportunities.
I believe in a New Zealand that rewards hard work; a New Zealand that empowers Kiwis to take a punt and create prosperity for themselves and their families.
Most of all I believe in a New Zealand that while small in size is large in ambition. Let’s rediscover that!
Growing our economy and raising productivity are the single biggest things we can do to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.
I pledge now to those New Zealanders that I will give everything I have to this role.
I’m proud to lead a government-in-waiting that will work every day to represent all New Zealanders – a “national National Party” that earns back their trust and confidence, and actually delivers for them.
And the National Government I will lead will be a government of action.
We will bring the tide back in and lift all boats.
We need to seize the tremendous opportunities we have, rather than squander them.
As I often say, we’re all going to get the country we deserve – and I firmly believe that together we – each and every one of us – can achieve the very best.
Finally, can I say no-one can do this role without the support of their family and to my wife Amanda, and our kids William and Olivia, who are in lockdown in Auckland probably watching on TV, thank you for being so supportive, understanding and encouraging – I love you.
I want to again thank my Caucus colleagues for my selection as Leader and I thank Nicola for joining me in the leadership team.