Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller has been promoted from number 31 to number 17 in the National Party caucus as part of a reshuffle of roles this week, prompted by the resignation of MP Nathan Guy. Muller will now take over Guy's role as agriculture, biosecurity and food safety spokesman while also retaining his forestry portfolio.
Muller talks to reporter Kiri Gillespie about the promotion, what the new role will mean to him and his family, and why he cares so much about it.
Politics has always invoked a deep and devoted passion in Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller.
The self-confessed politics geek first entered Parliament when he won the Bay of Plenty seat in 2014 after former Health Minister Tony Ryall retired.
This week, Muller swept from number 31 in the National Party caucus list to number 17 as part of a reshuffle after the resignation of outgoing MP Nathan Guy.
"It's quite the promotion," he said.
Muller was raised on his grandparents' dairy farm in Pukekohe before moving with his family to a kiwifruit orchard at Te Puna. The former Zespri boss and Fonterra executive now lives in Pāpāmoa with wife Michelle and their children, aged 15, 13 and 11.
He said his appointment was "no huge surprise".
"I've had 45 years in the kiwifruit industry and dairy industry.
"They are two massive parts of primary industry and being part of that - where you get to give voice to farmers and the part they play in New Zealand's economy, that's $45 billion in exports from New Zealand - it's a huge deal."
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The new role is not expected to have a drastic effect on the 33 weeks Muller already spends away from home or travelling around New Zealand. While the commitment significantly affects Muller's home life, it was something he and his family felt was worth it, he said.
"They are delighted for me because they know how much the primary industry means to me. When you are brought up on a kiwifruit orchard ... now you've got the opportunity to help reflect that industry to Wellington and debating in chambers about what I think is best. It's a huge thrill."
Muller felt he had plenty to offer farmers and orchardists. He also said his time as climate change spokesman gave him insight into key areas of concern between environmentalists and the agriculture sector.
"New Zealand is already the most emissions-efficient food providing country in the world. But we have to be careful we don't put that sector at a disadvantage. Our farming industry should be celebrated."
Muller retains his forestry portfolio. His new responsibilities take immediate effect as Guy prepares to step down after the next general election.
National's climate change portfolio has been given to Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, who is also the party's environment spokesman.
Simpson's Workplace Relations and Safety portfolio has been handed off to Rotorua MP Todd McClay, who picked up economic development from Paul Goldsmith after he moved into the finance role.
Read more: Nathan Guy to step down
Bridges said the reshuffle showed that the party was "brimming with talent" and Muller was a hard-working and highly performing MP deserving of a promotion.
"I have no doubt that Todd will hold this Government to account on behalf of rural New Zealand."
Listen to Jamie Mackay's interview with Nathan Guy below: