Bennett to retire from politics, heading for business world

By Regan Paranihi

The former deputy leader of the National Party, Paula Bennett, will retire at the general election.

"I have had an incredible time in politics for the past 15 years and now I am looking forward to my next career," Bennett says.

She was recently unseated as deputy leader and as election campaign manager for National, when Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye were elected leader and deputy after a sudden coup against then-leader Simon Bridges.

Bennett (Tainui, Pakeha) popped on to the political scene in 2005 where she entered Parliament on the National Party list.

After her first term she secured the Waitakere electorate, where she served two terms before the seat was disestablished, and now she holds the Upper Harbour seat.

"After just three years as an MP, I became a cabinet minister in 2008. I have held 14 portfolios, each bringing their own challenges and achievements. I have many people to thank, too many to rattle off here, but I believe that much of my success has been due to the incredible people who have worked with and for me. I am particularly proud of my work as Minister for Social Development and Child, Youth and Family for more than six years. "

Bennett was passionate about helping vulnerable families through a global financial crisis and she was committed to reforming the welfare system.

"The number of sole parents on benefit dropped by more than 30,000 and the number of teen parents effectively halved. This meant tens of thousands of people no longer dependent on the state and living independent lives."

"I implemented those reforms, drove the change and the daily execution, and most importantly saw people’s lives and livelihoods improve."

She says the whole experience has been "a hell of a ride", and she is excited about her next chapter in her life.

"I am excited to take the skills I have out of Parliament and into the business world. I have always wanted another career after politics and now is the right time for me to go and pursue that."