A look at Bill English, New Zealand's new prime minister

AP News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2016 4:26 AM
A look at Bill English, New Zealand's new prime minister

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Bill English was sworn in Monday as New Zealand's 39th prime minister after John Key resigned. Here's a glance at English's life:

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Born Dec. 30, 1961 (aged 54). Simon William "Bill" English was raised on a farm near Dipton, which has population of about 150, on the South Island.

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EDUCATION

Head boy at St. Patrick's College, Silverstream, a Roman Catholic high school near Wellington.

Completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Otago, and a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in English literature at Victoria University of Wellington.

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FAMILY

Married to Dr. Mary English, a general practitioner. They have six adult children.

Says his Catholic faith is an influence but doesn't define him. Opposes abortion and euthanasia. Voted against same-sex marriage but says he now supports it.

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POLITICAL HISTORY

First elected to the Parliament in 1990 as the member for the Wallace electorate, later renamed Clutha-Southland.

Leader of the National Party from October 2001 to October 2003. Led the party to its worst-ever defeat in the 2002 election.

Became finance minister and deputy prime minister in 2008, when Key became prime minister.

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POLICIES

Has pledged to use budget surpluses to cut taxes, spend more on infrastructure and pay down government debt.

Says he's not bound by Key's pledge to keep the age at which people can receive a government pension at 65. Some people say the age should be raised to reflect an aging population which is working longer.

Says he supports the British monarchy and has no timetable for New Zealand to become a republic. Says any constitutional change would need to be driven by the people.