Bill English

For other people with the same name, see William English (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Bill English
39th Minister of Finance
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Michael Cullen
In office
January 1999  June 1999
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley
Preceded by Bill Birch
17th Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Michael Cullen
29th Leader of the Opposition
In office
8 October 2001  28 October 2003
Deputy Roger Sowry
Preceded by Jenny Shipley
Succeeded by Don Brash
3rd Treasurer of New Zealand
In office
June 1999  5 December 1999
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley
Preceded by Bill Birch
Succeeded by Michael Cullen
1st Minister of Infrastructure
In office
19 November 2008  14 December 2011
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Deputy Leader of National Party
Assumed office
27 November 2006
Leader John Key
Preceded by Gerry Brownlee
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wallace
In office
1990  12 October 1996
Preceded by Derek Angus
Succeeded by Seat Abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Clutha-Southland
In office
12 October 1996  20 September 2014
Preceded by Seat Established
Succeeded by Todd Barclay
Majority 15,475[1]
Personal details
Born (1961-12-30) 30 December 1961
Lumsden, Southland, New Zealand
Political party National
Spouse(s) Mary English
Children 6
Profession Policy analyst
Religion Roman Catholic

Simon William "Bill" English (born 30 December 1961) is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of New Zealand, in office since 2008.

English entered parliament in 1990 as a National Party MP representing the Wallace electorate. In 1999 English served as Minister of Finance for a brief period until National, under the leadership of Jenny Shipley at the time, lost the election later that year. In October 2001 he replaced Shipley as the leader of the National Party, but after a disastrous result in the 2002 election he was replaced as the leader by Don Brash in October 2003. After Don Brash's resignation in November 2006 he became deputy leader of the party under John Key, becoming the Deputy Prime Minister after a November 2008 election victory. English retired as an electorate MP at the 2014 general election and became a list-only MP.

Early life

English was born in the small Southland town of Lumsden.[2] He attended St. Patrick's College, Silverstream in Wellington as a boarder and became Head Boy. He later gained degrees in commerce (at the University of Otago, where he was a resident at Selwyn College) and in English literature (at Victoria University of Wellington). After completing his university studies, he went to Dipton to work as a farmer. In 1987 he returned to Wellington to work as a policy analyst in the New Zealand Treasury, returning to Dipton two years later.

Political career

Member of Parliament

English joined the National Party in 1980 and served in administrative capacities for party branches both in Southland and in Wellington. In 1990 he stood as the National candidate in Wallace, the Southland electorate that encompassed Dipton, and won. The local voters of Wallace and of Clutha-Southland re-elected English as their electorate representative in seven successive subsequent general elections. At the 2005 election English retained his seat with a 13,032 majority or 65% of the electorate vote.[3] In the 2008 election English continued to hold the seat, winning by a margin of about 15500.[1] At the beginning of 1996 English became a member of the Cabinet and gained responsibility for Crown Health Enterprises, publicly owned healthcare providers established by the National Party's reforms of the public health service, which sought to foster an internal competitive market. He also became Associate Minister of Education and started the process of introducing the NCEA to high schools. After the elections later that year, however, Prime Minister Jim Bolger reshuffled his Cabinet, and English emerged as Minister of Health. As a condition of the coalition agreement, a member from New Zealand First served as Associate Minister of Health.

After the coalition between National and the smaller New Zealand First party collapsed in August 1998, the position of Treasurer (senior to that of Finance Minister and created especially for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters) became vacant. The former Finance Minister, Bill Birch, gained promotion to the position Peters had vacated, leaving the Minister of Finance portfolio free. English took up this role. Later that year, Birch and English swapped positions, with English becoming Treasurer and Birch becoming Minister of Finance again.

After the National Party lost the 1999 election to Helen Clark's Labour Party, English remained as National's spokesperson for financial matters. English announced in November 2013 that he would retire as Clutha-Southland electorate MP at the 2014 general election, and contested the election as a party-list candidate only.[4][5]

Leader of the Opposition

In October 2001, dissatisfaction with party leader Jenny Shipley had failed to abate, and English secured the backing of a majority of National Party MPs. English replaced Shipley as head of the National Party and thus as Leader of the Opposition.

However, English failed to improve the party's performance. In the 2002 elections, National suffered its worst electoral defeat ever, gaining barely more than twenty percent of the vote. Both party insiders and the general public were split as to how much to blame English for this loss, but most of the party believed that English would be able to rebuild National's support.

By late 2003, however, National's performance in opinion polls remained poor. The party had briefly increased its popularity in the year following the election, but by October its support had fallen to levels only slightly better than what it achieved in the last ballot. English also appeared in a boxing match for a charity against entertainer Ted Clarke. This "stunt" did not boost his polling or that of the National party either, with suggestions that it devalued his image as a serious politician. Don Brash, former governor of the Reserve Bank and a relative newcomer to politics, began to build up support to replace English. On 28 October, Brash gained sufficient backing in Caucus to replace English as leader.[6]

Shadow Education Spokesman

On 2 November 2003, when Brash announced changes in responsibilities for certain MPs, English became National's spokesman for education, ranked at fifth place in the party's parliamentary hierarchy. He remained in parliament after the 2005 election. In his new shadow education portfolio, English performed strongly, and remained a party favourite despite his election defeat as leader in 2002, as indicated by his subsequent appointment as Deputy Leader of the Opposition (see below) and spokesman for Finance and Revenue.

Deputy Leader

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
19901993 43rd Wallace National
19931996 44th Wallace National
19961999 45th Clutha-Southland 9 National
19992002 46th Clutha-Southland 4 National
20022005 47th Clutha-Southland 1 National
20052008 48th Clutha-Southland 4 National
20082011 49th Clutha-Southland 2 National
20112014 50th Clutha-Southland 2 National
2014present 51st List 2 National

After the resignation of Don Brash, English aspired to Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee's deputy leadership. On 26 November Brownlee announced that he was stepping aside and English was predicted to take over the deputy leadership and also the finance portfolio. This was confirmed the next day following a caucus meeting.[7]

Leaked tapes

Two tapes were covertly made of conversations with English at the National Party conference in August 2008, and subsequently leaked by Kees Keizer[8] to the media. The first indicated that English would like to eventually sell Kiwibank. The second, released to the media on 4 November 2008, just before the New Zealand election, gave English's views on Barack Obama. He is heard on the tape saying: "I'm a bit worried about this whole Obama and Europe thing, just because there's a limited effectiveness in being moralistic about international relations and Europe has turned out to be particularly ineffective even in its own backyard." "And the US can argue over-do it (sic) and Bush should have put a different window dressing – there still needs someone willing to pull the trigger."[9]

Deputy Prime Minister

English became Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and Minister of Finance[10] in the Fifth National Government, being sworn into office on 19 November 2008. English was the first and only Minister of Infrastructure[10] for a single term of parliament.[11]

Minister of Finance

Budget 2009

The fifth National Government’s first Budget[12] was delivered in a global recession and rising national debt.

The 2009 Budget included new spending of $5.8 billion to "help maintain economic activity and to support jobs". New spending included a home insulation and clean heating campaign, infrastructure investment and a national cycleway network.

The Budget confirmed 2009 tax cuts but deferred the second and third tranches of planned tax cuts in 2010 and 2011 as "unaffordable". Automatic contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund were suspended. $2 billion of planned spending by the previous Government's was reprioritised.

Budget 2009 forecast gross debt to peak at 43% of GDP in 2016/17.

Budget 2010

The main feature of the 2010 Budget[13] was a tax package that lowered income taxes, reduced the company tax rate to 28%, and raised GST to 15%. There were adjustments to Superannuation, Working for Families and Benefits to compensate for the GST increase.

Depreciation on buildings with a life exceeding 50 years was removed and rules on Loss Attributing Qualifying Companies were tightened.

The 2010 Budget included new spending of $1.8 billion in health, education, research and broadband rollout.

The Budget forecast a return to fiscal surplus in 2016.

Budget 2011

English speaking with Bryce Edwards at Otago University's Vote Chat in 2011

Budget 2011[14] was delivered following earthquakes which devastated Christchurch and included a $5.5 billion rebuild package for the city.

The 2011 Budget was a "zero Budget" meaning no net new spending over four years. $5.2 billion was prioritised over four years for spending on mostly targeted at health, education and infrastructure. Individual and employer Kiwisaver contributions were increased.

The Budget announced the part-sale of five state-owned enterprises with the Government keeping majority control.

The 2011 Budget forecast a return to fiscal surplus to 2014/15.

Budget 2012

The 2012 Budget[15] included $4.4 billion of new operating spending over four years, matched by offsetting savings and revenue initiatives. Health, education, the Christchurch rebuild, and research and development were major areas of new spending.

The Budget announced the Future Investment Fund to reinvest the proceeds of the part sales of state owned enterprises. The first allocation from this fund of $558 million was also announced.

Net core Crown debt was forecast to peak at 28.7 per cent of GDP. Budget 2012 was the second consecutive "zero Budget".

Budget 2013

The 2013 Budget[16] included $5.1 billion of additional operating spending over four years in health, education, welfare, and housing. $2.1 billion was added to the Christchurch rebuild, and ACC levies were reduced by $300 million in 2015 and by $1 billion in 2016.

An additional $1.5 billion allocation from the Future Investment Fund was announced.

The Budget forecast a return to fiscal surplus in 2014/15. A longer term fiscal target of reducing net government debt to 20% of GDP by 2020 was announced. Resumption of contributions to the Superannuation Fund was tied to this target.

Living allowances controversy

In 2009, the media, including TVNZ and TV3 revealed that English was receiving about NZ$900 a week as part of a living allowance for ministers, to live in his own NZ$1.2 million Wellington home. English also receives $276,200 in his annual salary as Deputy Prime Minister.[17][18] It was also revealed other ministers with homes in the capital city were also claiming accommodation allowances.[19] On Monday 3 August 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced a review of the housing allowances claimed by cabinet ministers.[20] The Prime Minister also stated that English was only claiming what he was entitled to under current ministerial housing allowances.

English subsequently announced he would pay back $12,000 and only claim about $24,000 a year in living allowances.[21] The Auditor-General's office said in September 2009 that they were making "preliminary enquiries" into parliamentary housing expenses in response to a letter of complaint from Progressive party leader Jim Anderton.[22] Two days later English announced that he would no longer take up any housing allowance and had paid back all the allowance he had received since the November 2008 election.[23]

Political views

English has opposed abortion,[24] voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide,[25][26] civil unions,[27] and the decriminalisation of prostitution.[28]

Personal life

He married a GP, Mary; they have six children. He is an active Roman Catholic,[29] but considers his religious beliefs personal and separate from politics.[30]

On 7 June 2002, English took part in TV3's Fight For Life, a celebrity boxing fundraiser, in this case for the Yellow Ribbon anti youth-suicide campaign. English took part because of the death of a teenage nephew in 1997,[31] and lost to entertainer Ted Clarke.

See also


  1. 1 2 "Election Results 2008: Official Count Results – Clutha-Southland".
  2. Temple, Philip (1994). Temple’s Guide to the 44th New Zealand Parliament. Dunedin: McIndoe Publishers. p. 62. ISBN 0-86868-159-8.
  3. "Election Results 2005: Official Count Results – Clutha-Southland".
  4. Bennett, Adam (1 November 2013). "English to give up Clutha-Southland seat". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  5. "Life after Bill". The Southland Times. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  6. "Don Brash is the new leader of the National Party". The New Zealand Herald. 28 October 2003. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  7. Tait, Maggie (27 September 2006). "English back from the cold". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  8. "Voters should disregard secret tapes – Key". Fairfax New Zealand. 6 November 2008.
  9. "English criticises Obama in latest tape". Fairfax New Zealand. 4 November 2008. Archived from the original on 5 November 2008.
  10. 1 2 "Appointment of Ministers" (21 November 2008) 179 New Zealand Gazette 4634.
  11. "Resignation of Ministers" (14 December 2011) 193 New Zealand Gazette 5650.
  12. "Budget 2009 home page". The Beehive. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  13. "Budget 2010 home page". The Beehive. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  14. "Budget 2011 home page". The Beehive. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  15. Budget 2012 home page
  16. Budget 2013 home page
  17. Campbell, Scott (1 August 2009). "Bill English defends allowance for Wellington home". TV3. Retrieved 1 August 2009.
  18. Young, Audrey (3 August 2009). "Key backs $900-a-week subsidy for English home". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  19. "Housing allowances review to be launched". TVNZ. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  20. "Ministerial housing rules to be reviewed". Radio New Zealand. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  21. Young, Audrey (6 August 2009). "English to cut house claims by half". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  22. "Auditors look into Bill English's Housing allowances". The Dominion Post. 26 September 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  23. "Bill English gives up housing allowance". The Dominion Post. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  24. Laugesen, Ruth (4 September 2004). "Abortion: is the argument over?". Sunday Star-Times.
  25. Euthanasia bill dies in NZ Parliament, Australasian Bioethics Information, 86, 1 August 2003.
  26. Death with Dignity Bill – First Reading, Hansard, New Zealand House of Representatives, 30 July 2003
  27. Claridge, Anna (25 April 2006). "Civil unions 'waste of time'". The Press.
  28. Luke, Peter; Wellwood, Elinore (13 October 2001). "The politician". The Southland Times.
  29. "Church has vital place in our secular society". Challenge Weekly 66 (6). 25 February 2008. Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  30. Colin James, Bill English conservative: a 2000s update, New Zealand Herald Weekend Review, 2 December 2006.
  31. "Bill English goes back to rolling with the punches". The New Zealand Herald. 8 June 2002. Retrieved 20 September 2011.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bill English.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Derek Angus
Member of Parliament for Wallace
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Clutha-Southland
Succeeded by
Todd Barclay
Political offices
Preceded by
Jenny Shipley
Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Wyatt Creech
Preceded by
Bill Birch
Minister of Finance
2008 – present
Succeeded by
Bill Birch
Preceded by
Michael Cullen
Preceded by
Bill Birch
Treasurer of New Zealand
Title abolished
Preceded by
Jenny Shipley
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Dr Don Brash
Preceded by
Michael Cullen
Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
2008 – present
New title Minister of Infrastructure
2008 – present
New title Minister for Housing New Zealand Corporation
2014 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jenny Shipley
Leader of the New Zealand National Party
Succeeded by
Dr Don Brash
Preceded by
Gerry Brownlee
Deputy Leader of the New Zealand National Party
2006 – present
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