Key promises a more inclusive National party [+ audio]

National's new leader John Key says the party will be more inclusive and work towards policies for all New Zealanders.

The National Party caucus today rubber stamped a deal put together to ensure the new leadership transition to Mr Key and deputy Bill English caused the least possible tension.

After a 30-minute meeting Mr Key praised his former leader Don Brash, but also diplomatically tried to draw down a curtain on his era and the political baggage such as accusations he caused division.

"I believe in a tolerant and inclusive New Zealand. I believe in a society therefore for the benefit of all New Zealanders and I think that the future New Zealand must be a New Zealand that everyone has a stake in," Mr Key said.

Mr Key said he would outline his vision for New Zealand in a speech tomorrow and over the next 18 months detail "a comprehensive and impressive policy agenda".

National under Dr Brash had difficult relations with all of its future potential coalition partners and Mr Key said he would work to improve this.

Mr Key said there had been no dissent in the caucus meeting about the deal that had seen the current deputy Gerry Brownlee step aside in exchange for Mr English not contesting the leadership.

Mr Key said both men had made "significant gestures".

"The public put a very high value on unity when we show we can manage ourselves, we can start to earn the right to consider managing the country," Mr Key said.

Mr English said Mr Key was the right man to lead National into Government and he would have no trouble working with him

"Over the last three days in particular we have had extensive and intensive discussions," Mr English said.

"We have demonstrated that if we are able to work together under those circumstances in the interests of the party and good government. Then we will be able to work together to the election and into government."

Mr Key refused to discuss the extent of any caucus reshuffle except to say it was going well and would be revealed on Friday, though it was "the worst kept secret in New Zealand" that Mr English would be finance spokesman.

Mr Key downplayed his lack of political experience saying David Cameron had taken over the British Conservative Party with similar political experience.

"One of the huge advantages of having Bill English as my wing man... is he has huge experience"

Mr Key who is estimated to be worth $50 million said Michael Cullen had been "fixated" about his personal wealth, but he was not personally concerned about the politics of envy being used against him.

"I grew up in a state house, brought up by a solo mother. The fact I was given an education by the state and lucky enough -- and I think hopefully motivated enough --to go on and have a successful career.

"I would put that as one definition of the New Zealand dream. If I could make a difference for anybody in New Zealand it would be to give that opportunity to other young New Zealanders who find themselves in a disadvantaged position."

Dr Brash's salary will almost halve as a result of his resignation while John Key's salary will nearly double.

From this week Dr Brash's salary of $216,000 a year, as leader of the Opposition, will fall by $98,000 to $118,000.

However in addition to his salary Dr Brash will get a general expense allowance of $13,500 a year -- for such things as gifts and entertaining -- plus a raft of other entitlements including free travel.

The allowances push MPs' remuneration into the $150,000 range.

New leader John Key's basic salary will increase from $118,000 to $216,000.

However how much either MP will notice is uncertain.

Mr Key, a former merchant banker, is reported to be worth around $50 million, while Dr Brash earned large sums as Reserve Bank governor for more than a decade and has a wide range of investment interests.

Mr Key's new pay packet trails behind Prime Minister Helen Clark, who gets a salary of $347,000 a year and her deputy Michael Cullen who gets $245,000.

Former National Party deputy leader Gerry Brownlee takes a $40,000 pay cut in the shake-up, with his salary falling from $158,000 to $118,000, while new deputy Bill English's salary moves from $118,000 to $158,000.

- NZPA

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