"Someone else once said: 'Let's do this'. I say: 'Sure. But you need a National Government to get it done'."

Those are the words of National Party leader Todd Muller who gave his first speech in his home province Bay of Plenty since becoming leader of the opposition today.
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With less than 100 days until voters decide whether to keep Labour at the helm or whether to install a new National Party Government, Muller's election campaign is gathering momentum.

He gave a wide ranging speech at the Te Puna Rugby Club, in the heart of the community where he grew up. He spoke at length of how that upbringing crafted his views and values as well as about why he believes National has what is required to get New Zealand through a looming economic crisis.

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"When people want to understand my background and values, I say, 'Come to Te Puna'."

Muller said he attended St Joseph's Convent and was "pretty much the only Pākehā kid".

"Even then, in an unformed childish way, I was aware of socioeconomic disparity. I knew my family was very comfortably off, relatively speaking. I felt that rare experience for Pākehā in this country – the sense of being different and in a minority.

"As an old-fashioned, traditional family, we were taught and grounded in our parents' values. But, as we grew older, we were also taught to make our own decisions about what we accepted and did not.

"To me, that is what drives social progress. That we learn from our parents but we challenge their ideas and develop our own. One thing that will never change is that, for me, what makes a family is love," Muller said.

National Party leader Todd Muller was with his family at the Te Puna Rugby Club today. Photo / David Beck
National Party leader Todd Muller was with his family at the Te Puna Rugby Club today. Photo / David Beck

Muller promised National would not increase the taxes New Zealanders pay, nor cut benefits, and would continue to increase New Zealand's investment in hospitals, schools and the welfare safety net.

"Our commitment to the core economic framework means we also believe in a confident, open, outward-looking New Zealand, trading and interacting successfully."

He said, according to Infometrics, 40,000 jobs were destroyed in the first wave of the economic and unemployment crisis in April which would be followed by another 80,000 in the second wave before the election. A third wave was also expected before Christmas, which Muller feared would be the worst of all.

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"Around 120,000 families will have lost their income by the election and it will be worse by Christmas. National's prudent economic management, plus our new initiatives like JobStart, will immediately create the conditions for tens of thousands of new real, permanent full-time jobs.

"The practice of the last 20 years of working groups flying around before governments get on with helping New Zealanders is over. The game's up, including because Covid-19 has shown us that the Wellington bureaucracy can in fact move much faster when it needs to."

Members of the Te Puna Rugby Club welcome National Party leader Todd Muller. Photo / David Beck
Members of the Te Puna Rugby Club welcome National Party leader Todd Muller. Photo / David Beck

Te Puna Rugby Club chairman Charles Kuka described Muller's appearance at the clubrooms as a homecoming for "probably the most high profile person to come out of Te Puna."

"It was a great experience. It was quite moving to have someone in his position, from our area, come back here and face our kaumatua and our people from our community who have been here for years.

"To have someone with a high profile like Todd's, someone who could be the next Prime Minister, we are undoubtedly very happy for him. It's a tight-knit community," Kuka said.