NEW Zealand’s opposition party said it has chosen long-standing politician Judith Collins to take over as leader months before the general election, following the surprise resignation of Todd Muller.
Muller announced this on Tuesday that he would step down as leader of the National Party immediately, just 53 days after he replaced Simon Bridges in May.
Collins, a 61-year-old National Party lawmaker, will lead the party as the country heads to the polling booths in a general election on Sept 19.
Collins said in a brief statement she felt privileged to have been chosen to lead the party.
“My focus as leader will be helping rebuild our communities and dealing with the economic and jobs crisis by getting Kiwis back to work,’’ she added.
Collins was first elected as a lawmaker in 2002, and has made previous attempts for the leadership in 2016 and 2018.
Senior lawmaker Gerry Brownlee was chosen by the caucus as deputy leader.
Muller said in a brief press release that he had taken time over the weekend to reflect on his position.
“It has become clear to me that I am not the best person to be leader of the opposition and leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time for New Zealand,’’ he said.
The role had taken a heavy toll on himself and his family and had become untenable from a health perspective, he added.
– Jul. 14, 2020 @ 16:25 GMT