News Politics NZ opposition leader quits just weeks after taking on the job

NZ opposition leader quits just weeks after taking on the job

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New Zealand’s new opposition leader has resigned just weeks after being elected to the role, saying he is stepping down due to health reasons.

National Party leader Todd Muller issued a statement on Tuesday saying he had reflected on his experience of recent weeks and it was clear to him he was not the best person for the job.

The 51-year-old became the party’s leader in May after leading the coup that toppled former leader Simon Bridges.

His resignation comes just 67 days before New Zealanders head to the polls for a general election that pits the main opposition National Party against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-led coalition.

“It is more important than ever that the New Zealand National Party has a leader who is comfortable in the role,” Mr Muller said.

The role has taken a heavy toll on me personally, and on my family, and this has become untenable from a health perspective.

“For that reason I will be stepping down as leader effective immediately.

“I intend to take some time out of the spotlight to spend with family and restore my energy before reconnecting with my community.”

Mr Muller said he would not make any further comment and asked for privacy for himself and for his family.

New Zealanders vote on September 19 in an election that polls suggest Labour is likely to win comfortably.

Ms Ardern passed on her best wishes to Mr Muller.

“No matter what side of parliament you’re sitting, politics is a difficult place,” she said.

The National Party has recently been embroiled in a scandal after it was revealed a junior politician leaked private health details of New Zealand COVID-19 patients to the media.

-with AAP