The past few months, our country has made many sacrifices.
You have made many sacrifices. You have put a lot on the line to get us through this crisis.
Now, we must begin taking another step forward together, with confidence.
The confidence to rebuild our country, rebuild our economy and to restore the livelihoods of New Zealanders.
Only a National government can provide the leadership to do that.
That is why we must win the next election.
Nikki and I, and our team, understand that the task for the next Government is immense. We’re honoured by the opportunity to lead this Party.
We take it seriously.
I would like to thank and acknowledge Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett.
Simon has worked hard as Leader, given the job his all, and the caucus is grateful for his service.
Both he and Paula have served the Party and our country well.
Thank you to my wife Michelle and our three children for supporting me on this journey. Kids, Dad will be home soon.
I want to pause here and acknowledge New Zealand’s tremendous response to the health crisis ravaging the world.
We should all be proud of what we’ve achieved together.
But regardless of these efforts, COVID 19 has hurt us.
My absolute focus as National Party Leader will be New Zealand's economic recovery.
We will save jobs, get the economy growing again and we will do so by leveraging our country’s great strengths: our people, our communities, our great natural resources, our values of hard work, tenacity, innovation and aspiration.
I know the size of this task and I will bring my all to it.
Yes, I’ve run businesses. I can read a balance sheet and a profit and loss account. I can tell a good one from a bad one. And yes, I’ll bring those skills to the Prime Ministership.
But that’s not what drives me.
What drives me is community – the people who help their elderly neighbours with the lawns on the weekend; The Dad who does the food stall at the annual school fair; The Mum who coaches a touch rugby team;
This election will be about the economy, but not the economy the bureaucracy talks about. It’ll be about the economy that you live in - the economy in your community - your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism business, your local rugby league club, your local butcher, your kura, your netball courts, your farms, your shops and your families.
This is the economy National MPs are grounded in, and the one that matters most to New Zealand.
For too long this economy, your economy - and your life - has been invisible to decision makers in Wellington.
This must change. And under my National government it WILL change. The economy that I believe in - is the one you live in - it is the economy of your community.
If we can rebuild that - we can rebuild our country.
This is what you can expect from my leadership: First and foremost - I'm about what's best for you and your family - not what's wrong with the Government.
And I'm not interested in opposition for opposition's sake. We’re all tired of that kind of politics.
I'm about ideas that get results.
I’m proud of working across Parliament on the Zero Carbon Act.
Wherever I have the opportunity to work with other parties for our country’s good, I will do so.
Will I criticise the government? Yes.
But ultimately, values and ideas are what ground me.
Like the idea that you can shape your own future and are free to do so.
I believe in enterprise, reward for hard work, personal responsibility, and in the power of strong families and communities.
Fundamentally, I don’t believe that for each and everyone of us to do better, someone else has to be worse off.
Those are National’s values. They are New Zealand values.
I don’t believe the right values or the right management skills are guiding our country as it confronts its biggest challenge since the end of the Second World War.
I will lead a party that rises to the great challenges facing us as a nation.
Labour has failed against every measure it has set for itself in Government- KiwiBuild, Light Rail, child poverty, prison numbers.
If we continue on this track of talking a big game but failing to deliver, we simply won’t recognise the New Zealand we are part of in a few years’ time.
Because New Zealanders know, whether or not they support National, they can have confidence that National will meet the challenges our country faces.
New Zealand, it is time for your sacrifice to be repaid, and for your community to be rebuilt.
Today, that work has just begun.
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