Bill English has made an enormous contribution to both the National Party and to New Zealand during his 27-year political career, National Party President Peter Goodfellow says.

“On behalf of the whole National Party, I’d like to thank Bill for his dedication and strong leadership.

“He has had a long and distinguished career in politics that has included many important roles for New Zealand, including as our 39th Prime Minister.”

“His prowess as Finance Minister was instrumental in getting New Zealand through the Global Financial Crisis and ensuring we were one of the first developed countries to get our books back in surplus, while still maintaining support for essential services and for vulnerable New Zealanders.

“In recent years, Bill’s innovative social investment approach has helped revolutionise the way social services are delivered and made a real difference to the lives of vulnerable New Zealanders.

“His leadership over the past 14 months has been outstanding, not just as Prime Minister but also during the transition to Opposition after the last election. National is stronger because of his leadership.”

Bill helped to ensure the National Party was by far the largest polling party in the last election, with 44.4 per cent, which is nearly unheard of for a Party fighting for a fourth term in government.

“Last week’s two-day Caucus highlighted to me that we have an incredibly talented and united Caucus, brimming with energy, new ideas and ready for the fight to return to government in 2020.

“The Board and I totally respect the decision that Bill has made and the reasons behind it. I’d like to thank his wife Mary, and particularly their children Luke, Thomas, Maria, Rory, Bart and Xavier for the selfless way they have shared their dad over his 27 year political career.

There is now a process to go through to select a new Leader, which we expect will take place over the next few weeks, with a vote to be held at the Caucus meeting on 27 February.

“On a personal note, both my wife Desley and I have appreciated Bill’s friendship and we will miss working alongside him and Mary. We wish them all the best.”

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