Todd Muller

Todd Michael Muller (/ˈmʌlər/;[1] born 1968) is a New Zealand politician and is the current Leader of the New Zealand National Party and the Leader of the Opposition. He entered Parliament at the 2014 general election as the MP for Bay of Plenty.

Todd Muller

Todd Muller.jpg
38th Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
22 May 2020
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
DeputyNikki Kaye
Preceded bySimon Bridges
13th Leader of the National Party
Assumed office
22 May 2020
DeputyNikki Kaye
Preceded bySimon Bridges
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Bay of Plenty
Assumed office
20 September 2014
Preceded byTony Ryall
Majority13,996 (33.71%)
Personal details
Born
Todd Michael Muller

1968 (age 51–52)
Te Aroha, New Zealand
Political partyNational
Spouse(s)Michelle Muller
Children3
Alma materUniversity of Waikato
WebsiteOfficial website

Early lifeEdit

Muller was born in Te Aroha in 1968,[2] and was raised in Te Puna, where his parents started a kiwifruit orchard.[3] He attended St Josephs, Te Puna primary school[4][5] and Tauranga Boys' College.[6]

He studied English, history and politics at the University of Waikato and graduated with a master's degree.[3][7]

Career before politicsEdit

Muller joined the New Zealand National Party in 1989. From 1994 to 1997 he served as Executive Assistant to Prime Minister Jim Bolger in his second term[8] [6]

Muller started his corporate career working for kiwifruit company Zespri as Industry Relations Manager from 2001 to 2003, then as GM Corporate and Grower Services from 2003 to 2006.[citation needed]

Muller left his role at Zespri to take up the position of CEO at Apata Ltd in January 2006.[9][self-published source?] Apata, a Bay of Plenty company specialising in post-harvest operations, was founded by his father and others in 1983.[10]

He served as a Waikato University councillor from October 2007 to June 2014.[citation needed]

He served as a director of Crown Research Institute, Plant and Food Research from June 2011 to June 2014. Plant and Food is a New Zealand-based science company providing research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products.[11][failed verification]

Muller started his role at Fonterra as Manager of Local Government and Regional Relations from February 2011 through to May 2012. He then became Group Director of Co-operative Affairs from May 2012 until June 2014, when he left the dairy company in order to focus on campaigning for the 2014 general election after being selected as the National Party candidate for the Bay of Plenty electorate.[12]

From August 2012 until June 2014, Muller served as a director Sustainable Business Council NZ, which is a CEO led group of companies that catalyses the New Zealand business community to have a leading role in creating a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.[13][failed verification]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2014–2017 51st Bay of Plenty 59 National
2017–present 52nd Bay of Plenty 43 National

Muller became a Member of Parliament in 2014. He was selected to replace Tony Ryall in 2014 as National's candidate in the Bay of Plenty electorate,[14] and won with 61% of the vote. He won the electorate again in 2017.

During his time in Parliament Muller has served as the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, and as the deputy chairperson of the Education and Science Select Committee.[15] As of February 2020 he was the Opposition spokesperson for agriculture, biosecurity, food safety, and forestry, and sits on the Primary Production Select Committee.[15]

During his time in Opposition he was given the task of working with the Government on its Zero Carbon Bill. National ended up supporting the bill, with some caveats. Muller's work on the bill earned him respect from across the House.[16]

In November 2019, Muller heckled Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick during her speech on climate change. Swarbrick quickly retorted "OK Boomer".[17][18] Although there was little reaction to her comment in Parliament, her two-word throwaway remark became a talking point in media around the world.[19]

In December 2019, Muller criticised a Te Papa exhibition in which farm stream water was shown as brown, describing it as "part of the museum's continued attacks on New Zealand's farmers".[20]

PortfoliosEdit

Opposition Spokesperson
November 2017 – March 2018 Māori Crown Relations
November 2017 – August 2019 Climate Change
July/August 2019 – present Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety, Forestry
May 2020 - present Official Leader of the Opposition

2020 National leadership contestEdit

In May 2020, a challenge to Simon Bridges' leadership of the National Party emerged, after he and the National Party polled poorly in a Newshub Reid Research Poll.[21][22] Muller was touted as a replacement;[23] he initially denied having leadership ambitions and publicly supported Bridges[24] but the next day officially announced his bid for the leadership. Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger backed Muller as the next party leader.[25]

On 22 May 2020, the National Party caucus voted for Muller to be the party leader with more than 29 votes but he has refused to confirm the exact number of votes cast for him.[26] The party's caucus was said to be evenly divided over whether the leadership change was the correct course of action. Senior MP Anne Tolley was among those who spoke out in opposition to Muller's leadership challenge, calling it "nutty stuff".[27] Another National MP, speaking to media on the condition of anonymity, described Muller in contrast to Bridges as a "pale stale male".[28]

In a 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll published on the eve of the leadership coup, Muller trailed Bridges in the preferred Prime Minister stakes by 0.2 to 5 percent. His deputy-to-be, Nikki Kaye, also polled ahead of him at 0.4 percent.[29]

Leader of the Opposition (2020-present)Edit

Muller announced his shadow cabinet on the 25th of May, with senior caucus member Amy Adams announcing she was reversing her previously announced decision to retire. Muller stated former leader Simon Bridges was offered a shadow ministerial role but declined, saying he was taking time to consider his future. Bridges quickly contradicted Muller and rejected this claim.[30]National MP Jo Hayes criticised Muller for the lack of ethnic diversity present in the new frontbench, telling media "This is not good. We need to remedy this or you [the party leadership] need to front it and take it head on and say why. You need to give a better explanation."[31] On the same day, Newshub reported that several National MPs were already leaking to media against Muller and his deputy Nikki Kaye, four days after the leadership change had occurred.[32]

On the 27th of May another leak against the leadership was made to Newshub claiming the campaign chair, Gerry Brownlee, had set up an "intelligence unit" to find negative information on political opponents. Brownlee said the leaks were "disappointing", untrue, and had come from "bitter backers" of former leader Simon Bridges.[33] As a result of the leaks to media, inability to fend off criticism over his 'Make America Great Again' cap, and allegedly poor television interview performances, Muller received criticism from commentators traditionally supportive of the National Party including Mark Richardson.[34] Fellow conservative commentator Mike Hosking opined in his New Zealand Herald column that "Todd Muller's first full day out including Parliament was little short of a disaster."[35]

Political viewsEdit

Muller takes a socially conservative position on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and drug liberalisation.[36]

He has called for greater action on climate change, having worked with Ardern's government on the Zero Carbon Bill.[37]

After his election as leader, he received attention for his intention to display a 'Make America Great Again' cap in his Parliamentary office as part of a collection of American political memorabilia, with a Muslim community leader calling on him to leave it at home.[38] Muller responded that he was "very comfortable" including it in his collection and that he hoped people would understand the context of the display.[39] He later changed his mind and decided to leave it undisplayed.[40] When pressed on whether he would prefer to see Donald Trump or Joe Biden in the presidency, Muller only stated that he believed Trump's Democratic opponent was better at delivering speeches.[41]

Personal lifeEdit

Muller and his wife Michelle have three children.[6] Muller is Catholic.[42]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Hilary Barry, Jeremy Wells get to know National leader Todd Muller speed date style". TVNZ. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  2. ^ Wallace, Neal (22 August 2019). "Water storage vital for future". Farmers Weekly. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b Braae, Alex (15 September 2019). "The increasingly uncompromising Todd Muller". The Spinoff. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  4. ^ "History of Parish of St Thomas Aquinas Tauranga".
  5. ^ Braae, Alex. "Here's what you need to know about new National leader Todd Muller". The Spinoff.
  6. ^ a b c Lynch, Jenna (20 May 2020). "Todd Muller facing name recognition challenge with New Zealanders". Newshub. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  7. ^ Norquay, Kevin (22 May 2020). "Nats leader Todd Muller yet another from the school that produces outstanding sporting leaders". Stuff. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  8. ^ Tuckey, Karoline (22 May 2020). "Who is new National Party leader Todd Muller?". Radio New Zealand.
  9. ^ Muller, Todd. "Linkedin". Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Annual Report 2017 Apata Ltd".
  11. ^ "About Us: Plant & Food Research". www.plantandfood.co.nz.
  12. ^ "Todd Muller selected for Bay of Plenty electorate". NZ Herald. NZME. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  13. ^ "About Us - SBC". Sustainable Business Council.
  14. ^ Todd Muller selected for Bay of Plenty electoratenzherald.co.nz, 3 June 2014 Archived 3 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b "Muller, Todd". New Zealand Parliament. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  16. ^ Coughlan, Thomas; Cooke, Henry (21 May 2020). "Todd Muller, the man who could be prime minister". Stuff. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  17. ^ Walls, Jason (7 November 2019). "'OK boomer': 25-year-old New Zealand MP uses viral term in parliament". BBC News. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  18. ^ "'OK boomer': 25-year-old New Zealand MP uses viral term in parliament". BBC News. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  19. ^ The world is obsessed with Chlöe Swarbrick's 'OK, boomer' jibe, Stuff, 9 November 2019
  20. ^ The Country Team (16 December 2019). "Te Papa water display a 'kick in the guts' for Kiwi farmers – Todd Muller". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Todd Muller, Nikki Kaye to challenge for National Party leadership – source". Newshub. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  22. ^ "National plummets to 30.6 per cent in Newshub/Reid Research poll". Stuff. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Simon Bridges faces challenge to his leadership from MPs Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye – source". Stuff. Archived from the original on 20 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Todd Muller denies leadership ambitions despite endorsement by ex-PM". Newstalk ZB. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  25. ^ "Former PM Jim Bolger backs Todd Muller for next National leader". Stuff. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  26. ^ "Todd Muller elected National leader, Simon Bridges ends two-year reign". Stuff. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  27. ^ Wrigley, Wynsley (21 May 2020). "Bid to oust leader 'nutty stuff': Tolley". The Gisborne Herald. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  28. ^ Devlin, Collette (20 May 2020). "National leadership woes: MP says Muller is 'pale stale male". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  29. ^ Mutch-Mckay, Jessica (21 May 2020). "Pressure mounts as National falls to 29%, Labour skyrockets in 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll". 1NEWS. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  30. ^ Walls, Jason (25 May 2020). "National leader Todd Muller's new caucus: Amy Adams returns, Simon Bridges staying on". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Māori pushed down National list". Waatea News. 26 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  32. ^ O'Brien, Tova (26 May 2020). "National MPs already leaking as new leadership team of Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye suffers disastrous first sitting day". Newshub. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  33. ^ O'Brien, Tova (27 May 2020). "National sets up 'intelligence unit' to dig up info on political opponents during 2020 election campaign". Newshub. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  34. ^ "AM Show host Mark Richardson lashes out at new National leader Todd Muller: 'He has failed every time'". Stuff.co.nz. 27 May 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  35. ^ Hosking, Mike (27 May 2020). "Mike Hosking: Could Todd Muller have had a worse start?". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  36. ^ Satherley, Dan (23 May 2020). "Where Todd Muller stands on cannabis, same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia". Newshub. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  37. ^ Gibson, Eloise (22 May 2020). "Is Todd Muller's National victory a win for the climate?". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  38. ^ Wade, Amelia (24 May 2020). "Muslim community to Muller: Keep your Make America Great Again cap at home". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  39. ^ Wade, Amelia (24 May 2020). "New National leader Todd Muller doubles-down on Make America Great Again cap". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  40. ^ Coughlan, Thomas (26 May 2020). "Todd Muller won't be bringing Trump hat to new office". Stuff. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  41. ^ Satherley, Dan (23 May 2020). "Todd Muller defends owning 'MAGA' hat, says no one cares about his Hillary Clinton badge". Newshub. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  42. ^ "MPs vote in favour of first abortion bill". www.sunlive.co.nz. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2020.

External linksEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Tony Ryall
Member of Parliament for Bay of Plenty
2014–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Simon Bridges
Leader of the Opposition
2020–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Simon Bridges
Leader of the National party
2020–present
Incumbent