All-white front bench 'doesn't matter' - National MP Amy Adams

A high-ranking National MP has defended her party's new all-white front bench, saying "it doesn't matter" what order the party's MPs are placed.

New leader Todd Muller's revamped line-up saw the party's previous all-Māori leadership duo - Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett - plummet down the rankings. Bennett is now the party's highest-ranked Māori MP at 13th, and according to the National Party website, Bridges doesn't have a ranking at all. 

The entire front bench is now Pākehā

Muller said the rankings were done "on merit", but even some of his team expressed concern, Jo Hayes - ranked 37th - saying it was "not good". 

Selwyn MP Adams, who was going to retire at the end of this term but is now ranked third, said she backs the new list "100 percent".

"The list is Todd's list, absolutely, but I absolutely agree that a list should be put together based on the right people in the right roles," she told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

"We have an incredible talent across our caucus. The hardest part of putting a list together is that you can't have everyone in the top 10. 

"Every single one of the people in our caucus could serve well in the top 10... It doesn't matter for us where in the caucus they sit."

The controversy over the rankings was just part of a rocky first week for Muller, which also saw headlines about his ownership of a 'Make America Great Again' hat, leaks from disgruntled MPs and accusations of a lack of new ideas and plans to help the country recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

Fourth-ranked Judith Collins told The AM Show on Friday she rated his performance a seven out of 10, calling him "very competent". Adams rated him better than that - eight-and-a-half out of 10. 

"There is always learning in the first few days. I think Todd's performance has been exceptional for a new leader, thrust into the white-hot spotlight of national focus," Adams said.

"I have been amazed at how well he has adapted and performed. You're only going to see Todd continue to exceed expectations."

She said she didn't know if he was getting media training.

"When you step into a new role, there are always learnings. But I think Todd has all of the core fundamentals to be a superb Prime Minister. He is honest, he has a strong sense of integrity, he believes deeply in New Zealand's future and wants to help New Zealanders. 

"The rest, around the performance piece, he'll continue to grow into." 

Amy Adams on Newshub Nation.
Amy Adams on Newshub Nation. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Asked by host Ryan Bridge why she or deputy Nikki Kaye weren't leading the party instead, considering they are both vastly more experienced than him, Adams said Muller is the "the leader we need right now".

"I don't want to be [the] leader. Nope. Absolutely not. I'm very comfortable with Todd. [I] absolutely ruled it out."

She wouldn't comment on who might be the National Party caucus member leaking to the media, saying New Zealanders don't care - just the media.