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Todd Muller

Todd Muller

Todd Muller.jpg
38th Leader of the Opposition
In office
22 May 2020 – 14 July 2020
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
DeputyNikki Kaye
Preceded bySimon Bridges
Succeeded byJudith Collins
13th Leader of the National Party
In office
22 May 2020 – 14 July 2020
DeputyNikki Kaye
Preceded bySimon Bridges
Succeeded byJudith Collins
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Bay of Plenty
Assumed office
20 September 2014
Preceded byTony Ryall
Majority3,415
Personal details
Born
Todd Michael Muller

(1968-12-23) 23 December 1968 (age 52)
Te Aroha, New Zealand
Political partyNational
Spouse(s)Michelle Muller
Children3
Alma materUniversity of Waikato
WebsiteOfficial website

Todd Michael Muller (/ˈmʌlər/;[1] born 23 December 1968[2]) is a New Zealand politician who served as the Leader of the New Zealand National Party and the Leader of the Opposition from 22 May to 14 July 2020.[3] He entered Parliament at the 2014 general election as the MP for Bay of Plenty.

Early life

Muller was born in Te Aroha on 23 December 1968,[2] and was raised in Te Puna, where his parents started a kiwifruit orchard.[4] He attended St Josephs, Te Puna primary school[5][6] and Tauranga Boys' College.[7]

He studied English, history and politics at the University of Waikato and graduated with a master's degree.[4][8]

Career before politics

Muller joined the New Zealand National Party in 1989. From 1994 to 1997 he served as Executive Assistant to Jim Bolger during his second term as Prime Minister.[7][9]

Muller started his corporate career working for kiwifruit company Zespri as Industry Relations Manager from 2001 to 2003. He lists his CV as including the role of GM Corporate and Grower Services from 2003 to 2006, followed by a move to the position of CEO at Apata Ltd in January 2006.[10] Apata, a Bay of Plenty company specialising in post-harvest operations, was founded by his father and others in 1983.[11] From June 2011 to June 2014 he served as a director of Crown Research Institute, Plant and Food Research,[10] the New Zealand-based science company providing research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products.[12] From August 2012 until June 2014, Muller served as a director of Sustainable Business Council NZ,[13] a CEO-led group of companies that catalyses the New Zealand business community to have a leading role in creating a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.[14] He served as a co-opted Waikato University councillor from October 2007 to June 2014.[15][16][17][18]

Muller started work at dairy company Fonterra as Manager of Local Government and Regional Relations from February 2011 to May 2012. He then became Group Director of Co-operative Affairs from May 2012 until June 2014, when he left the company to campaign for the 2014 general election after being selected as the National Party candidate for the Bay of Plenty electorate.[19]

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2014–2017 51st Bay of Plenty 59 National
2017–2020 52nd Bay of Plenty 43 National
2020–present 53rd Bay of Plenty 8 National

Muller became a Member of Parliament in 2014. He was selected to replace Tony Ryall in 2014 as National's candidate in the Bay of Plenty electorate,[20] and won by a margin of 15,096 votes.[21] He retained the electorate again in 2017, defeating Labour candidate Angie Warren-Clark by a margin of 13,996 votes.[22]

During his time in Parliament Muller has served as the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, and as the deputy chairperson of the Education and Science Select Committee.[23] As of February 2020 he was the Opposition spokesperson for agriculture, biosecurity, food safety, and forestry, and sits on the Primary Production Select Committee.[23]

During his time in Opposition he was given the task of working with the Government on its Zero Carbon Bill. National ended up supporting the bill, with some caveats. Muller's work on the bill earned him respect from across the House.[24]

In November 2019, Muller heckled Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick during her speech on climate change. Swarbrick quickly retorted "OK boomer".[25][26] Although there was little reaction to her comment in Parliament, her two-word throwaway remark was covered in the international media.[27]

In December 2019, Muller criticised a Te Papa exhibition in which displayed bottles of water dyed brown representing farm streams, describing it as "part of the museum's continued attacks on New Zealand's farmers".[28]

2020 National leadership contest

In May 2020, Muller challenged the incumbent National Party leader Simon Bridges for the leadership on a joint ticket with Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.[29] The reasons cited were poll results in a Newshub Reid Research Poll.[30][31] The day prior to the challenge, he had publicly denied having leadership ambitions and supported Bridges despite a media endorsement from Jim Bolger.[32][33] A One News Colmar Brunton poll released the evening before the coup had Muller on 0.2% preferred prime minister compared to Jacinda Ardern on 63%.[34]

Muller won the resulting coup on 22 May 2020 with more than 29 votes cast for him.[35] The party's caucus was said to be evenly divided over whether the leadership change was the correct course of action. Senior MP Anne Tolley was among those who spoke out in opposition to Muller's leadership challenge, calling it "nutty stuff",[36] and retiring shortly thereafter.[37] Another National MP, speaking to media on the condition of anonymity, described Muller in contrast to Bridges as a "pale stale male".[38]

Leader of the Opposition (May–July 2020)

Muller announced his shadow cabinet on 25 May, with senior caucus member Amy Adams announcing she was reversing her previously announced decision to retire. Muller stated former leader Simon Bridges was offered a shadow ministerial role but declined, saying he was taking time to consider his future. Bridges quickly stated he was taking "time out" and would stand and help win the next election.[39] National MP Jo Hayes criticised Muller for the lack of ethnic diversity present in the new frontbench, telling media "This is not good. We need to remedy this or you [the party leadership] need to front it and take it head on and say why. You need to give a better explanation."[40] On the same day, Newshub reported that several National MPs were already leaking to media against Muller and his deputy Nikki Kaye, four days after the leadership change had occurred.[41]

On 27 May, another leak against the leadership was made to Newshub claiming the campaign chair, Gerry Brownlee, had set up an "intelligence unit" to find negative information on political opponents. Brownlee said the leaks were "disappointing", untrue, and had come from "bitter backers" of former leader Simon Bridges.[42] As a result of the leaks to media, inability to fend off criticism over his 'Make America Great Again' cap display (see below), and allegedly poor television interview performances, Muller was criticised by commentators traditionally supportive of the National Party including Mark Richardson.[43] Fellow conservative commentator Mike Hosking opined in his New Zealand Herald column that "Todd Muller's first full day out including Parliament was little short of a disaster."[44]

New Zealand First, who had been relentless critics of Bridges and who Bridges had ruled out as coalition partners in any future government warmed to the new leader. MP Shane Jones said that "I don't know if he's a beach boy but I do sense coming from [him], good vibrations in contrast to Paula and Simon" [45]

Muller resigned on 14 July 2020, stating, "I am not the best person to be Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time for New Zealand" and that the role has had a negative impact on his health.[3] At just 53 days, Muller is the shortest-serving leader of any political party represented in Parliament in New Zealand's history.[46] After being replaced as leader by Judith Collins, and taking sick leave for nearly four weeks, Muller stated in interviews, "I had anxiety. I had experienced that quite severely and I had panic attacks"[47] that began on 27 May, five days after taking the leadership.[48] He has ruled out another bid for the party leadership.[47]

During the 2020 New Zealand general election held on 17 October, Todd Muller retained his Bay of Plenty seat, defeating Labour candidate Angie Warren-Clark by a final margin of 3,415 votes.[49]

Political views

Muller takes a socially conservative position on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and drug liberalisation.[50]

He has called for greater action on climate change, having worked with Ardern's government on the Zero Carbon Bill.[51]

After his election as leader, he received attention for his intention to display a 'Make America Great Again' cap in his Parliamentary office as part of a collection of American political memorabilia, with a Muslim community leader calling on him to leave it at home.[52] Muller responded that he was "very comfortable" including it in his collection and that he hoped people would understand the context of the display.[53] He later changed his mind and decided to leave it undisplayed.[54] When pressed on whether he would prefer to see Donald Trump or Joe Biden in the presidency, Muller only stated that he believed Trump's Democratic opponent was better at delivering speeches.[55] He is an admirer of American politics.[56]

Personal life

Muller and his wife Michelle have three children.[7][57] Muller is Catholic.[58]

References

  1. ^ "Hilary Barry, Jeremy Wells get to know National leader Todd Muller speed date style". TVNZ. Archived from the original on 31 May 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b Jason, Walls (22 May 2020). "National's new leader: Who is Todd Muller, the MP who defeated Simon Bridges". NZ Herald. Archived from the original on 14 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020. He is 51 – born just two days before Christmas in 1968.
  3. ^ a b Ensor, Jamie (14 July 2020). "Live updates: Todd Muller resigns as National Party leader". Newshub. Archived from the original on 13 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b Braae, Alex (15 September 2019). "The increasingly uncompromising Todd Muller". The Spinoff. Archived from the original on 28 May 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  5. ^ "History of Parish of St Thomas Aquinas Tauranga". Archived from the original on 14 June 2020.
  6. ^ Braae, Alex. "Here's what you need to know about new National leader Todd Muller". The Spinoff. Archived from the original on 29 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Lynch, Jenna (20 May 2020). "Todd Muller facing name recognition challenge with New Zealanders". Newshub. Archived from the original on 26 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  8. ^ Norquay, Kevin (22 May 2020). "Nats leader Todd Muller yet another from the school that produces outstanding sporting leaders". Stuff. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  9. ^ Tuckey, Karoline (22 May 2020). "Who is new National Party leader Todd Muller?". Radio New Zealand. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020.
  10. ^ a b Muller, Todd. "Linkedin". Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Annual Report 2017 Apata Ltd". Archived from the original on 16 January 2020.
  12. ^ "About Us: Plant & Food Research". www.plantandfood.co.nz. Archived from the original on 14 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Sustainable Business Council Annual Snapshot" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 February 2020.
  14. ^ "About Us – SBC". Sustainable Business Council. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Honorary Dog-torate – Lynley Dodd Event – Alumni @ Waikato: University of Waikato". alumni.waikato.ac.nz. Archived from the original on 28 January 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  16. ^ "15. University of Waikato Council and Senior Management". www.waikato.ac.nz. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  17. ^ "14. University of Waikato Council and Senior Leadership Team". www.waikato.ac.nz. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  18. ^ "May 2012 – Alumni @ Waikato: University of Waikato". alumni.waikato.ac.nz. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  19. ^ "Todd Muller selected for Bay of Plenty electorate". NZ Herald. NZME. 3 June 2014. Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  20. ^ "Todd Muller selected for Bay of Plenty electorate". Bay of Plenty Times. New Zealand Herald. 3 January 2014. Archived from the original on 3 June 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  21. ^ "Official Count Results -- Bay of Plenty". Electoral Commission. 10 October 2014. Archived from the original on 17 January 2020. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Bay of Plenty - Official Result". Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 17 January 2020. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  23. ^ a b "Muller, Todd". New Zealand Parliament. 7 August 2019. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  24. ^ Coughlan, Thomas; Cooke, Henry (21 May 2020). "Todd Muller, the man who could be prime minister". Stuff. Archived from the original on 28 May 2020. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  25. ^ Walls, Jason (7 November 2019). "'OK boomer': 25-year-old New Zealand MP uses viral term in parliament". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  26. ^ "'OK boomer': 25-year-old New Zealand MP uses viral term in parliament". BBC News. 7 November 2019. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  27. ^ The world is obsessed with Chlöe Swarbrick's 'OK, boomer' jibe Archived 15 June 2020 at the Wayback Machine, Stuff, 9 November 2019
  28. ^ The Country Team (16 December 2019). "Te Papa water display a 'kick in the guts' for Kiwi farmers – Todd Muller". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Simon Bridges faces challenge to his leadership from MPs Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye – source". Stuff. Archived from the original on 20 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  30. ^ "Todd Muller, Nikki Kaye to challenge for National Party leadership – source". Newshub. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  31. ^ "National plummets to 30.6 per cent in Newshub/Reid Research poll". Stuff. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Todd Muller denies leadership ambitions despite endorsement by ex-PM". Newstalk ZB. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  33. ^ "Former PM Jim Bolger backs Todd Muller for next National leader". Stuff. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  34. ^ Mutch-Mckay, Jessica (21 May 2020). "Pressure mounts as National falls to 29%, Labour skyrockets in 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll". TVNZ. Archived from the original on 28 May 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  35. ^ "Todd Muller elected National leader, Simon Bridges ends two-year reign". Stuff. 22 May 2020. Archived from the original on 31 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  36. ^ Wrigley, Wynsley (21 May 2020). "Bid to oust leader 'nutty stuff': Tolley". The Gisborne Herald. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  37. ^ Andre Chumko (27 June 2020). "Anne Tolley to retire from Parliament this year". Stuff. Archived from the original on 28 June 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  38. ^ Devlin, Collette (20 May 2020). "National leadership woes: MP says Muller is 'pale stale male". Stuff.co.nz. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  39. ^ Walls, Jason (25 May 2020). "National leader Todd Muller's new caucus: Amy Adams returns, Simon Bridges staying on". NZ Herald. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  40. ^ "Māori pushed down National list". Waatea News. 26 May 2020. Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  41. ^ O'Brien, Tova (26 May 2020). "National MPs already leaking as new leadership team of Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye suffers disastrous first sitting day". Newshub. Archived from the original on 6 June 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  42. ^ O'Brien, Tova (27 May 2020). "National sets up 'intelligence unit' to dig up info on political opponents during 2020 election campaign". Newshub. Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  43. ^ "AM Show host Mark Richardson lashes out at new National leader Todd Muller: 'He has failed every time'". Stuff.co.nz. 27 May 2020. Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  44. ^ Hosking, Mike (27 May 2020). "Mike Hosking: Could Todd Muller have had a worse start?". New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  45. ^ jason.walls@nzme.co.nz @Jasonwalls92, Jason Walls Jason Walls is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald (24 May 2020). "NZ First minister Shane Jones says he's getting 'good vibrations' from the new National leader Todd Muller". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  46. ^ "New Zealand politics' shortest leaderships". Radio NZ. 14 July 2020. Archived from the original on 14 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  47. ^ a b Gillespie, Kiri (8 August 2020). "Former National leader Todd Muller on his mental health journey". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Archived from the original on 10 August 2020. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  48. ^ "Comment: Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller opens up on journey for Mental Health Awareness Week". NZ Herald. 23 September 2020. ISSN 1170-0777. Archived from the original on 24 September 2020. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  49. ^ "Bay of Plenty - Official Result". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  50. ^ Satherley, Dan (23 May 2020). "Where Todd Muller stands on cannabis, same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia". Newshub. Archived from the original on 31 May 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  51. ^ Gibson, Eloise (22 May 2020). "Is Todd Muller's National victory a win for the climate?". Stuff.co.nz. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  52. ^ Wade, Amelia (24 May 2020). "Muslim community to Muller: Keep your Make America Great Again cap at home". New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 24 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  53. ^ Wade, Amelia (24 May 2020). "New National leader Todd Muller doubles-down on Make America Great Again cap". New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 24 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  54. ^ Coughlan, Thomas (26 May 2020). "Todd Muller won't be bringing Trump hat to new office". Stuff. Archived from the original on 29 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  55. ^ Satherley, Dan (23 May 2020). "Todd Muller defends owning 'MAGA' hat, says no one cares about his Hillary Clinton badge". Newshub. Archived from the original on 28 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  56. ^ Braae, Alex (15 September 2019). "The increasingly uncompromising Todd Muller". The Spinoff. Archived from the original on 1 June 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  57. ^ "About Todd". Todd Muller. Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  58. ^ "MPs vote in favour of first abortion bill". www.sunlive.co.nz. 9 August 2019. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.

External links

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Tony Ryall
Member of Parliament for Bay of Plenty
2014–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Simon Bridges
Leader of the Opposition
2020
Succeeded by
Judith Collins
Party political offices
Preceded by
Simon Bridges
Leader of the National party
2020
Succeeded by
Judith Collins

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