Former National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett to retire from politics at 2020 election

Former National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett has announced she will not be standing in the general election in September. 

Bennett, who is currently MP for Upper Harbour, had already announced in August 2019 her intention not to seek re-election for her seat because she wanted to focus on her new role as National's campaign chair. 

But Bennett lost her new campaign role after a National Party leadership takeover in May. Todd Muller took the leadership from Simon Bridges while Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye replaced Bennett as deputy leader. 

Muller appointed senior National MP Gerry Brownlee as the new campaign chair. 

Bennett was subsequently pushed down the National Party's ranks to number 13, but she held on to her drug reform and women portfolios. 

The 51-year-old, who served as Deputy Prime Minister between December 2016 and October 2017, now intends to leave Parliament.

"It is time for the next chapter," Bennett said in Auckland on Monday.

"I am excited to take the skills I have out of Parliament and into the business world. I have always wanted another career after politics and now is the right time for me to go and pursue that.

"Being an electorate MP and working on behalf of constituents has been a privilege and it is work I have really enjoyed. I believe Jake Bezzant, the current candidate for Upper Harbour, will do an outstanding job and I wish him all the best in the upcoming election."

Bennett entered politics on the National Party list in 2005 and won the former seat of Waitakere, which she held for six years until it no longer existed.

She then went on to win the seat of Upper Harbour where she served for the past six years.

Bennett became a Cabinet minister after just three years of being an MP and has held 14 portfolios, which she said brought challenges and achievements.

"I have many people to thank, too many to rattle off here, but I believe that much of my success has been due to the incredible people who have worked with and for me," she said.

"I am particularly proud of my work as Minister for Social Development and Child Youth and Family for more than six years."

Bennett served as a senior minister from 2014 under Sir John Key and held portfolios ranging from State Services, Associate Finance, Climate Change and Police, and was Deputy Prime Minister when Key left and English took over.

"The whole thing though has been a hell of a ride and I have loved it."

 

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