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New foreign minister a cabinet veteran

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/04/2017

Gerry Brownlee, who will succeed Murray McCully as foreign minister, is a cabinet veteran who has held a high ranking since National came to power in 2008.

He's been MP for the Christchurch electorate of Ilam since 1996, winning re-election comfortably in every election since then.

The 61-year-old has been ranked as high as third in the cabinet, holding portfolios including economic development, energy and resources and defence.

His most testing appointment was as minister responsible for the Christchurch rebuild after the deadly 2010 earthquake.

He held that position until this week, seeing Christchurch through its traumatic months following the quake to the eventual plan for the new-look city which is now taking shape.

Mr Brownlee doesn't suffer fools gladly, and speaks his mind.

In 1999 he was in trouble for manhandling a protester at a National Party meeting, which led to court action and a damages payment of $8500.

And in 2014 he bypassed security at Christchurch Airport when he was in a hurry to catch a plane - he had to apologise publicly for that and was fined $2000.

But Prime Minister Bill English says he's confident Mr Brownlee has the diplomatic skills to handle his new job, and says his spell as defence minister has put him in a good position to take over from Mr McCully.

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