National’s new leader has stamped her mark on the caucus with a reshuffle after taking over – but it’s not only allies who have profited

Judith Collins has announced her new caucus rankings after taking the National Party leadership from Todd Muller, with Shane Reti, Chris Bishop and David Bennett among the big winners.

Senior MPs Michael Woodhouse and Mark Mitchell are among those to have dropped in the party’s lineup, in a more significant overhaul than anticipated due to the retirements of Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams.

As signalled by Collins on Wednesday afternoon, Reti has taken the health portfolio from Woodhouse while he has also risen eight places to fifth spot in the caucus rankings.

Woodhouse, who has faced criticism for his role in Michelle Boag’s leaks of confidential Covid-19 patient data, has dropped five spots to 12th, although has taken the significant regional economic development portfolio in addition to roles as Pike River re-entry spokesman and deputy shadow leader of the House.

Despite serving as key lieutenants in Todd Muller’s rise to the National leadership, Bishop and Nicola Willis have both benefited from the change of leader.

Bishop has jumped five spots to seventh and taken deputy leader Gerry Brownlee’s former position as shadow leader of the House, while Willis has replaced Kaye as education spokeswoman and moved up slightly from 14th to 13th.

Mitchell, who unsuccessfully challenged Collins for the leadership on Tuesday night, has fallen from ninth to 15th while also losing his justice portfolio to former leader Simon Bridges, who has retained the foreign affairs role given to him by Muller and moved onto the front bench in fourth spot.

Collins said Muller would take a few weeks away from Parliament to recover from the health issues which led him to relinquish the leadership, but had agreed to take on the trade portfolio and eight spot on her front bench.

Speaking about the departure of Adams and Kaye, she said both had been offered senior roles under her leadership, but she understood their decisions to move on given the circumstances of the last few weeks.

Collins said she had long felt that the “hard-working and highly intelligent” Bridges should have the party’s justice role, while Willis had been both her and Kaye’s top choice to take on the education portfolio.

Sam Sachdeva is Newsroom's national affairs editor, covering foreign affairs and trade, housing, and other issues of national significance.

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