*This story was originally published on RNZ and is republished with permission*
Former National Party leader Simon Bridges has announced he is retiring from politics and will leave Parliament in the coming weeks.
Bridges held several Cabinet portfolios under John Key and then Bill English including Labour, Energy and Resources, Transport, Economic Development, Communications, and Associate Climate and Finance.
He was leader of the National Party and Opposition from February 2018 to May 2020.
In a statement, Bridges said he was excited about the future and exploring commercial opportunities, and wanted to spend more time with his young family.
“It’s been a privilege to be MP for Tauranga since 2008, a senior minister and Leader of the Opposition. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but it’s time,” Bridges said.
“For the first time in a while, National is in a good place under Christopher Luxon’s leadership with momentum heading into the next election.
“I am proud to have played a significant role recently in getting National back in the hunt for government in 2023. I have every confidence in National to win the election,” Bridges said.
Luxon has thanked Bridges for his contribution to building a better New Zealand.
“Simon has been an absolute champion for Tauranga, for New Zealanders and for the National Party over his 14-year career in Parliament. He was an excellent local MP, minister, Leader of the National Party and colleague,” Luxon said in a statement.
“Recently, Simon has been the Opposition Finance Spokesperson, where he has been holding Labour to account for a cost of living crisis that is taking Kiwis backwards,” Luxon said.
Luxon said he will announce National’s new Finance spokesperson in the coming days. The process to select a candidate to stand for National in the Tauranga by-election will begin in the coming weeks.