New Prime Minister Bill English has signalled his Government will have a stronger emphasis on addressing social issues but says he should not be confused as "Labour light."

"I'm a strong believer that markets work, because people face consequences of their decisions and it's a powerful positive force," he told the Herald.

"At the same time you can still be concerned about what Government does for people. These things aren't mutually exclusive."

English knew he was often referred to as "Labour light" because of the interest he had shown in social-related issues.


In an earlier press conference he said the Government was not the answer to everything.
Most answers could be found in families and communities and sometimes Government got in the way of that.

"It is a political difference between us and the current Labour-Greens coalition who believe the Government is the answer to everything.

"This will be a Government supporting economic growth and ensuring that the benefits of growth are widely shared," he said.

"I want to be a Prime Minister where New Zealanders feel that they can flourish here, and not just some of them but all of them."

Asked if he was committed to reducing inequality, English said that was not how he would put it.

"I think lifting incomes is just more aspirational," he said in an interview.

"We are not as focused at the Opposition on everyone getting exactly the same result. We are happy to see people get reward for success."

English and Paula Bennett held a 40-minute press conference before being sworn in at Government House as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.


They are working on a cabinet reshuffle that will be announced before Christmas.

He and Bennett have signalled greater involvement by backbenchers and ministers in decisions.

Bennett will take charge of working more closely with backbenchers.

English said with a new generation of ministers coming through "I think it's going to change the way a bit decisions are made."

"We are always keen to see the newer cabinet ministers coming through and getting more involved, particularly outside their portfolio."

Bennett herself had been an example of someone who had been involved in welfare issues but became involved in broader decisions about the political direction of the Government.


English said he hoped to build on Key's work boosting New Zealand's international profile, saying it had given New Zealand a reputation as a successful economy which was open to trade, investment and immigration.