National leader Judith Collins isn't worried about the leadership ambitions of one of her top-ranking MPs after he said being leader would be a "privilege".
Speaking to NZME radio on Thursday, Dr Shane Reti, the MP for Whangarei and National's health spokesperson, was asked if he wanted to be leader one day. He didn't deny having leadership ambitions.
"I think that's a decision for the National Party caucus, for the people in the Whangarei electorate, and for the people in the party. That's a call they would need to make. If they wanted me to step into that position, that would be a privilege," he replied.
Newshub asked Collins on Friday if she was worried Dr Reti wants her job.
"No, do you know what, I think he is outstanding. He has been a great leader in health and, one day, he may well be a leader of the National Party," she said.
"But, you know what, it is so good to have a party with such talent. Honestly, wouldn't you rather have him as your Minister of Health?"
Collins said she was grateful Dr Reti understood "what a privilege it is" to be leader.
"We are focused on the economy and we are focused on the fact that the current Government failed at the border, let COVID back in and has only taken, what how many weeks to admit it. Very clearly we have great talent in our caucus. I am really grateful to have a caucus like that."
She also confirmed she hadn't spoken to him about his ambitions.
"No, I haven't. But I am absolutely happy to speak to a lot of people about leadership ambitions. But his leadership ambition at the moment is very focused on health."
Dr Reti has had a meteoric rise within the National Party over the last few months.
Back in late-May, after Todd Muller became leader, the party was criticised for a lack of Māori representation amongst its top-ranking MPs.
After Muller resigned as leader in July and Collins became leader, she replaced then-health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse with Reti. He was later ranked five on the party list, up from 45 at the 2017 election.
Dr Reti has taken a large role in the National Party's election campaign, featuring alongside Collins on several Facebook Live broadcasts and appearing at numerous policy announcements.