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Bill English confirmed as new New Zealand PM
Last Updated: 2016-12-12 07:28 | Xinhua
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New Zealand's ruling center-right National Party on Monday confirmed that Bill English is replacing outgoing Prime Minister John Key, while the new Deputy Prime Minister will be Paula Bennett.

English, who was elected by his Parliamentary caucus exactly a week after Key announced his shock resignation, repeatedly stressed in a televised press conference that the government under his leadership would follow the same policy settings laid down under Key's eight years as the country's leader.

English had already said that Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce would replace him as Finance Minister, but he declined Monday to outline any further changes to his Cabinet until later this week.

English, 54, has been deputy to Key and Finance Minister since the National Party was came to power in 2008.

He was a farmer in the far south of the South Island and policy analyst at the New Zealand Treasury before being elected to Parliament in 1990.

He will lead the government into the next general election, which must take place by September next year.

He became National Party leader in 2001 and led the party to its worst ever general election defeat in 2002.

He said at the press conference that he had learned a lot since his 2002 defeat.

"You learn a lot more from losing than you do from winning," he said.

He described himself as an "active Catholic" and said his faith was important to him: "It doesn't define me, but it's an important influence."

In terms of personality and background, English is commonly perceived to be as different from Key as he could be.

The self-deprecating Key has sold himself and the country over eight years in power on his outward optimism and ability to shrug off trouble traits that have carried him on a rags-to-riches rise.

Key grew up in a state house in Christchurch before studying commerce at Canterbury University and going straight into investment banking, a career that took him abroad as a foreign exchange dealer for Merrill Lynch, and made his fortune.

English, on the other hand, has established a reputation as a dour policy wonk, with the gruff exterior of a stereotypical New Zealand farmer.

But together they formed one of the most rock-solid political partnerships in recent New Zealand history.

They will remembered for steering New Zealand through its economic recovery after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and the disastrous Canterbury earthquakes that killed 185 people in February 2011.

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