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Mixed reaction to Cabinet reshuffle

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Latest Political News | Wednesday January 23 2013 5:35

Mixed reaction to Cabinet reshuffle

The first cabinet meeting of the year is taking place on the top floor of the Beehive today - but it may be slightly awkward.

Dumped ministers Kate Wilkinson and Phil Heatley still officially hold their positions.

They won't be replaced by new ministers Nikki Kaye and Michael Woodhouse until next week, when they're officially sworn in.

No major announcements are expected out of today's cabinet, although the thorny issue of reports into David Bain's compensation bid may be discussed.

The Prime Minister says his reshuffle brings renewal but his political opponents beg to differ.

Nathan Guy, Nikki Kaye, Michael Woodhouse and Simon Bridges have all gone up in John Key's latest revamp while Ministers Kate Wilkinson and Phil Heatley have been shown the door

John Key says it's important cabinet have constant renewal and that there be fresh faces coming in.

The Prime Minister maintains he's not seeking to force National MPs Kate Wilkinson and Phil Heatley out of politics.

He says there's no correlation between his decision on ministerial roles and the longevity of political careers.

"Frankly, I'd be delighted if they stayed long-term, and hopefully they do."

But Labour leader David Shearer doesn't think there's much renewal at all.

He says the key problem is the major ministries have either the same people in charge of them or have retreads.

Mr Shearer says that means we won't see major changes

And he's not about to say if his pending reshuffle of Labour's line up will be more vigorous.

"Well you'll have to wait until I actually do that but we've got a really talented line-up, and I'm more than confident that we'll be able to take on the best that Mr Key can put up."

Steven Joyce is being seen as National's Mr Fix-it.

He has been given the task of sorting out the myriad of problems with school payroll system Novopay.

Otago University political analyst Bryce Edwards says his power continues to rise with every year.

"Yet another example of how he's seen as a person that is the fix-it man - he goes in and fixes things when there's big trouble."

Bryce Edwards says Steven Joyce has the stature and reputation to deal with something that is badly damaging the National government.

We all knew Education Minister Hekia Parata was going to keep her job - but confirmation of it has still raised a few eyebrows.

After a troubled plagued 2012 where the Minister backed down on class sizes, faced problems of reforms in Christchurch, and was dragged into the Novopay scandal she's kept her position in John Key's cabinet.

The Prime Minister says she's got a lot of things right and is confident she will make it as minister.

Bryce Edwards says it's all about identity politics.

"Her agenda, her ethnicity, even some other superficial elements of her identity such as her attractiveness, her rags-to-riches sort of story."

Political commentator David Slack says she fell flat on her face when she tried to sell teachers the idea of larger class sizes - but perhaps she's too visible to fail.

David Slack says the boss wants people who will go out and sell his policies, and he isn't stacking the cabinet with innovative thinkers.

"You don't have people with real intellectual firepower, and it's imagination we really need.

"We need people who have got new ideas and are going to find some way of reversing the decline we've had for the last 30 years."

David Slack says Nikki Kaye's promotion is an example - she's someone who will go out and do what she's told by the inner circle of policy makers.

Bryce Edwards says the National Party is being careful not to be seen as a rich old man's club.

But Labour MP Chris Hipkins says Hekia Parata's main success has been to united the whole education sector against the government.

He says if he was to pick a weak Government Minister to be demoted it would be Hekia Parata.

Fingers are crossed in conservation quarters that the return of Nick Smith will throw their cause under the spotlight.

Mr Smith resigned over a letter he provided to friend Bronwyn Pullar while he was still ACC Minister, which was used to advance her ACC claim.

He says he has learned from the experience.

"You just have to be so damn careful around any possible perceptions in that sort of space, and that's a very hard lesson that I learned last year."

The National MP has picked up the Housing and Conservation portfolios in his recall to Cabinet.

Forest and Bird, general manager, Mike Britton, says Nick Smith has a long history in conservation, and knows his stuff.

"We hope that it means the Government is going to start giving the environment and conservation in the future than perhaps it has over the last two or three years."

Mike Britton says they're sorry to see Kate Wilkinson go, and wish her all the best.

But he says Nick Smith understands the issues they're fighting for.

"He's also reasonably senior in Cabinet, and unfortunately in government, the seniority in Cabinet seems to play a role in terms of the effectiveness and ability of ministers to get policies through."

Mike Britton says Nick Smith has been an instigator of the Land and Water Forum, and they hope he'll work to implement the recommendations.

The Green Party's summed up the Prime Minister's cabinet reshuffle as desperate.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says yesterday's move will do nothing to fix some of the many problems the country is facing and shows there's a lack of talent on the National benches.

She's pleased a young female has been promoted in Nikki Kaye.

But Ms Turei is especially disappointed with the reappointment of Nick Smith to cabinet.

"In the housing portfolio, Nick is very good at looking busy but not doing very much, and that's certainly the Government's plan on housing, to take the hands of the reins and do nothing to try and fix the housing crisis."

And there is delight a farmer will be taking over as Minister for Primary Industries.

The spot has been left vacant because the previous minister, David Carter, will now be Speaker of the House.

Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills, says the new minister, Nathan Guy, understands the issues and will work well for the primary industries.

He says they have a great deal of respect for what Mr Carter has achieved over the past four years.

Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers says he feels for dumped cabinet minister Kate Wilkinson.

The Waimakariri MP has lost her conservation role - she resigned as Labour Minister last year following a damning report into the Pike River disaster.

Mayor David Ayers says he's worked with Kate Wilkinson a lot.

"I'm disappointed for her.

"Waimakariri electorate has been well-served by its recent MPs, and Kate has certainly been up with that - she's very well known locally, and she's a good local MP."

David Ayers says she was always devoted to the region.

"To be perfectly honest, I think she's been reasonably well-focused on the district even when she's been a minister.

"I don't think the district or the electorate would have felt neglected by her ministerial responsibilities."

Kate Wilkinson has issued a statement saying while disappointed, she supports John Key's choice of a new cabinet.

She says it's been an honour and a privilege to serve in the National government and she will now put all her energy into serving the people of Waimakariri.

And the Prime Minister's promising action on investment when he gives his state of the nation address this Friday.

John Key says they've already done a lot over the past four years, and he's confident that will continue.

"What I'm really going to signal is that New Zealand needs investment, New Zealand needs to continue to grow, we have to become relatively speaking more productive.

"And by the way, the Government's not going to sit around waiting for these things to happen - we are going to do some things with an urgency."

Photo: Getty Images

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