Former National leader Todd Muller, forced to retire by leader Judith Collins and the party caucus, will remain on leave for three more weeks to care for his wife

Outgoing National MP Todd Muller will not return to Parliament as planned on Tuesday after taking five weeks leave.

The MP for Bay of Plenty announced on June 23 that he would retire at the 2023 election and then immediately headed off on five weeks pre-approved leave to look after his wife, who is recovering from serious surgery.

The following day the NZ Herald revealed he was forced to quit after a late-night caucus meeting on June 22 where Muller was confronted about comments he’d made to Newsroom bad-mouthing his colleague Harete Hipango.

Muller was given the option of resigning or being suspended from caucus after his colleague and former chief whip Barbara Kuriger dobbed him into leader Judith Collins.

The conversation between Muller and Newsroom took place on the phone while he was in his Bay of Plenty electorate and Kuriger, who he considered a trusted friend, was in the car with him.

Hipango is a Collins’ loyalist, and the leader was furious a group of her MPs had spoken anonymously to Newsroom about the former Whanganui MP’s return to Parliament.

Muller was set to return to Wellington and National’s caucus room on the third floor of Parliament Buildings on Tuesday.

But a spokesperson for the party has confirmed to Newsroom his special leave has been extended for another three weeks and he will now return on August 24.

This is so he can remain in his Bay of Plenty electorate and continue to care for his wife.

Muller holds the trade and internal affairs portfolios for the National Party and it’s still unclear whether he will retain them when he gets back, which will be two months since his dramatic departure.

Jo Moir is Newsroom's political editor.

Leave a comment