Paula Bennett: The loyal National Party servant who just lost her job

With all eyes on whether Todd Muller would beat Simon Bridges, you'd be forgiven for forgetting what the coup means for Paula Bennett.

Bridges' faithful sidekick is also out of a job after Muller's leadership challenge, which resulted in Nikki Kaye displacing her as the party's deputy leader.

It's the price she's paid for her loyalty to the embattled Bridges, and will probably see her relegated to the party's backbenches as National's new leadership team takes shape.

The result of the vote marks another major fall from power for Bennett after the 2017 election result saw her ousted as Bill English's Deputy Prime Minister after less than a year in the job.

Proud west Aucklander Bennett has been with the party since 2005, before which she'd studied as a social worker at Massey University, and famously raised her daughter as a single mother while receiving a benefit - a life experience that earned her the catchy if slightly distasteful nickname 'Paula Benefit'.

After being elected to Parliament, the now-Upper Harbour MP served on the Social Services Select Committee, as Community and Voluntary Sector Liaison and as Associate Spokesperson on Welfare under Opposition leader Don Brash.

Once Brash resigned to make way for Sir John Key, Bennett was given a role on the Education and Science Select Committee, and later became Minister of Social Development, Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister for Disability Issues and Associate Minister of Housing when National won the 2008 election.

Bennett married in 2012 to Alan Philps - who is known for keeping a low profile - and their family now includes a daughter, a step-daughter and a grand-daughter.

In 2014, she took over new portfolios, including State Services, Social Housing and Local Government. The following year she became Minister of Climate Change Issues and in 2016 the Minister for Women and of Police, as well as Deputy Prime Minister.

She also gained headlines in 2018 after losing 50kg in a year following gastric bypass surgery.

Bennett has held the role of deputy National leader for three-and-a-half years - under both Bill English and his successor Simon Bridges - and this role has now been taken up by Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.

It's not yet clear what Bennett's role in the National Party will be following the leadership coup.

Who is Paula Bennett:

  • Former deputy National Party leader
  • First elected to Parliament on September 17, 2005
  • Member of the 48th, 49th, 50th, 51st and 52nd Parliaments
  • Upper Harbour MP 2014 to present
  • Waitakere MP between 2008 and 2014
  • List MP between 2005 and 2008
  • Current Roles: Epidemic Response Committee member,  Spokesperson for Drug Reform, Spokesperson for Social Investment and Social Services, Spokesperson for Women
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