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NO TWO WEEKS are ever the same in politics, and the last couple of weeks have certainly proved the point.

The unexpected resignation of Prime Minister John Key for no reason other than he had done his bit or, to quote him, "given everything I had" came as a shock to many.

The fact he was confident the country would be well led by those who followed him is a testament to John Key's leadership and the depth of talent within the National Party caucus.

The second significant feature of the past couple of weeks was the open discussion on our future leadership and the extraordinarily swift democratic resolution as to who would carry on the leadership of this very stable government.

Prime Minister Bill English and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett were appointed at the caucus meeting on Monday last week, and so begins a new era in New Zealand political history.

As MP for Rangitikei, I felt privileged to be a part of the selection process choosing a new prime minister - and also to witness the departure of the outgoing PM and his wife Bronagh as they descended the steps of Parliament before a large crowd last Monday.

It was an historic event, as I believe only one other PM has ever left the precinct entirely on their own terms.

Of course, John Key remains the MP for Helensville until the next general election, and will return in the new year as a backbench MP - and I am sure he will continue to make his presence felt.

Bill English's Cabinet line-up, which was announced on Sunday, reflects the success of the past eight years and provides fresh ideas and energy as we head into election year.

It provides a mix of new people alongside experienced ministers either continuing in their roles or taking up new challenges, with a focus on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.

Our region is ending the year in good shape. Tourism numbers are up, dairy prices are up, unemployment is down, sheep and beef prices are holding a little better than expected and other agricultural sectors, such as horticulture, pipfruit, wine and timber, are all performing strongly.

The Government is also ending the year in a better state than predicted, despite the Kaikoura earthquake.

Increasing surpluses give new finance minister Steven Joyce many more options when it comes to presenting his first Budget in May.

So as the fantastic Christmas parades around the electorate come to an end and we conclude the 2016 Parliamentary programme, it remains for me to wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

If you are lucky enough to be able to take some time off, I hope you enjoy your time away from work. To those of you who keep on working for the benefit of the rest of us, thank you, and I hope you are able to enjoy some time out while the warm weather is still here.
 

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