National Party leader Simon Bridges has appointed Amy Adams finance spokesperson.
Adams was widely considered to be a frontrunner for the role after her strong performance in the poll for the National Leadership. She is understood to have placed second in the secret ballot.
Other possible contenders were more conservative, Judith Collins and Steven Joyce who was the incumbent. Joyce resigned yesterday after revealing that Bridges had offered him a place on the front bench, but not the finance portfolio.
Bridges’ appointment will be widely seen as an attempt to unify the party by bringing Adams’ significant support behind his leadership. He will probably face pressure to appoint Collins to a senior role too. It is assumed that she did not carry a great level of support amongst the caucus, but polling shows her to be popular (if divisive) among party members.
A poll by Labour polling company UMR found that Collins was the most popular candidate among National voters, 17 percent of whom supported her. Bridges scored just nine percent in the same poll.
Adams signalled that she would use the role to promote the economic legacy of the Fifth National Government, while tentatively modernising its stance on certain economic and social issues.
"New Zealand currently has one of the strongest economies in the western world. That's not an accident. That’s a result of the hard work of New Zealanders backed by the strong economic plan of the previous National-led Government,” she said in a statement.
"National will be advancing new economic and social policies ahead of the next election, but first we have to stop the threat posed by Labour’s economic mismanagement."
Her intention to advance new social policies is significant as she is widely seen as representing the more socially liberal faction within the National Party. Her loss to Bridges could be interpreted as a victory for social conservatives over the liberals. But Bridges has been trying to swing away from his socially conservative history since winning the ballot. Adams’ promotion will be seen as another attempt at that.
Her statement also singled out Labour’s amendment to the Overseas Investment Act to ban foreign home buyers, and the low confidence reported by New Zealand businesses as areas for criticism.