National's 2017 election loss 'disappointing and unjust' - former Australian PM John Howard

  • 28/07/2018

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard has expressed disappointment in the National Party's 2017 election defeat, calling the loss "unjust".

National won the most seats out of any single party in the election, but without coalition partners fell short of enough to form a Government.

Winston Peters and New Zealand First chose to form a coalition with Labour with support from the Greens, meaning National went into Opposition after nine years in Government.

Speaking to the National Party annual conference on Saturday, Mr Howard revealed he wrote to Bill English after the loss to commiserate.

"[This conference] comes after a very disappointing, unjust, and unfair political result," he said.

"I sent a hand written note to Bill English after the election. I said 'Dear Bill… there is no justice in politics,' and I felt that way - but although there may have been little justice in that result, you as Nationals can take enormous pride in what your Government achieved year after year.

"People all around the world would say, 'New Zealand is leading the way.' People would say that John Key and Bill English have managed the New Zealand economy in a way that was an exemplar for other countries around the world."

Mr Howard was Australian Prime Minister between 1996 and 2007. He led the Liberal Party, the closest Australian equivalent to New Zealand's National Party.

The conference is National's first since entering Opposition. Leader Simon Bridges has faced several headlines recently about his future as leader after failing to make a dent in preferred Prime Minister polls.