Simon Bridges could have motion sickness the way he's hurtled down and up National's rankings over the past two months.

But in new leader Judith Collins' caucus reshuffle, Bridges is firmly back on the front bench with a spot at number four and two hefty portfolios - foreign affairs and justice.

"Getting justice feels a bit like coming home."

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Bridges, a former solicitor, said he'd focused a lot of National's policies on justice issues and being tough on crime, so he's looking forward to the portfolio.

Bridges said it might sound "a bit insincere" but he's never been fixated on numbers - just roles.

Two months ago Bridges was leader of the National Party, then he was dropped to 26th on their list after being rolled in the leadership coup and replaced with Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller.

After Bridges committed to coming back to Parliament, Muller put him at number 17 so today's reshuffle gave him a big promotion.

When Collins unveiled her new-look shadow cabinet, she spoke highly of Bridges.

"I have long been of the view that Simon should be justice and he has clearly always wanted foreign affairs, so he has got both.

"He's a very hard-working MP and he's highly intelligent, and I'm absolutely certain he will play a powerful role in the incoming National-led government," Collins said.

The reshuffle was yesterday pitched as minor but after senior MPs Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams announced their retirement, Collins unveiled a completely new front bench.


Collins said Kaye and Adams' decision to go didn't reflect her leadership as they'd both been offered senior portfolios.

"I'm really pleased that both Amy and Nikki are making decisions that they are happy with. I'm not so happy that they're leaving, but I understand it," she said.

"They have my eternal gratitude and respect for the way they have behaved, particularly over the last week, or even the last few days."

The biggest winners were Bridges, Shane Reti, Nicola Willis and Hutt South MP Chris Bishop, while Muller, who resigned as leader on Tuesday, has been given a top spot at number eight.

National Party leader Judith Collins leaving after announcing her caucus reshuffle at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National Party leader Judith Collins leaving after announcing her caucus reshuffle at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The biggest losers were Michael Woodhouse, who was stripped of health after being implicated in the leaking scandal, and Mark Mitchell who lost justice to Bridges.

Collins said she'd called every National MP last night to talk and found the process of divvying out portfolios and rankings fun.


"This is a winning team. My hardest issue with this was, who didn't get into the shadow cabinet ... at least I don't have the problem Jacinda Ardern's got."

There are only two women in her top 12. Collins said National was losing a lot of senior female MPs who were standing down, including Kaye, Adams, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley.

"That therefore means I have to look for experience elsewhere. But I have never been someone who feels we have to appoint people on the base of gender."

Collins was handed the reins to the National Party on Tuesday night after Muller's shock resignation.

The winners

Besides Collins and deputy leader Gerry Brownlee, who are now both at the top, the biggest winner was Bridges who jumped 13 rankings and the responsibility for justice as well as his previous portfolio of foreign affairs.

Reti also did well, getting health off Woodhouse and is now on the front bench ranked at number five - up from 13.


Willis also got a promotion - after her meteoric rise under Muller - moving up one spot to 13 and gaining the education portfolio from Kaye.

Collins said Kaye, who has previously been education minister and held the portfolio in Opposition, was "absolutely adamant Willis was the right person for the job".

Willis was "an extraordinary person", Collins said.

"She'll be excellent as a minister of education."

Willis was a campaigner for Muller and Kaye's takeover of Bridges alongside Bishop, who has also done well from this reshuffle.

Bishop is now ranked seventh and has taken on shadow leader of the house on top of his transport and infrastructure portfolios.


Brownlee, who is deputy leader, will take on the Covid-19 border response portfolio and the party's agriculture spokesman David Bennett has been placed at number 11.

Meanwhile Muller will take about three weeks off Parliament and has been given the trade portfolio and is ranked eighth.

Collins said she spoke to him last night.

"He is feeling very, very happy with the trade portfolio and he is keen to come back, as soon as he is able, to be part of our team at a senior level."

The losers

Collins demoted Woodhouse for not reporting he'd also received Covid-19 patient data from former party president Michelle Boag earlier.

He's dropped five places to 12 and had his health portfolio given to Reti. Collins yesterday wouldn't be drawn on her decision.


"I have made my decision on Michael Woodhouse. That is my decision and I'm not going to go air it here. We had our discussion. I've made my decision. That's it."

Woodhouse has been given regional economic development and Pike River re-entry on top of his deputy shadow leader of the house role.

Collins said he had a "very senior role to play".

Mitchell, who ran against Collins for leader on Wednesday, has also been demoted.

He's been of his justice portfolio and fallen 13 places in the rankings. He will now be the defence & disarmament and sport & recreation spokesman.

Collins said Mitchell hadn't been punished for running against her.



• Judith Collins: leader, national security

• Gerry Brownlee: deputy leader, Covid-19 border response, GCSB, SIS

• Paul Goldsmith: finance, earthquake commission

• Simon Bridges: foreign affairs, justice

• Shane Reti: health

• Todd McClay: economic development, tourism


• Chris Bishop: transport, infrastructure, shadow leader of the house

• Todd Muller: trade

• Louise Upston: social development, social investment

• Scott Simpson: environment, climate change, planning (RMA reform)

• David Bennett: agriculture

• Michael Woodhouse: regional economic development, Pike River re-entry, deputy shadow leader of the house