Chris Bishop stripped of portfolio in National reshuffle

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 28 Aug 2021, 10:47AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Chris Bishop stripped of portfolio in National reshuffle

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 28 Aug 2021, 10:47AM

Judith Collins has unveiled a minor caucus reshuffle, stripping Chris Bishop of one of his portfolios. 

Bishop has lost his shadow leader of the house portfolio, which has been given to Michael Woodhouse. 

Woodhouse has lost the transport portfolio which has been given to David Bennett. 

Bennett has lost his agriculture portfiolio which has been given to Barbara Kuriger. 

A press release from Collins said the change will enable Bishop to "focus solely on his critical role as National's Spokesperson for the Covid-19 Response". 

However, National Party sources had suggested that Collins was weighing up disciplining Bishop for not toeing the party line hard enough when the caucus decided to vote against a ban on conversion therapy. 

A leaked conversation between Bishop and a member of the public suggested Bishop was unhappy with the vote. Bishop has argued the message shows the National caucus position, which is that the party wanted to support the bill, but could not because of problems with the legislation. 

The change will draw comparisons with Labour's Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins, who is also leader of the house, as well as Education Minister. 

Caucus rankings are unchanged, apart from Todd Muller, who is ranked bottom of the caucus, having announced he will retire at the next election. MPs after Muller in the rankings have been shuffled upwards to fill his place. 

Louise Upston will become spokesperson for regional economic development - a new portfolio. 

Nicola Willis had been associate economic development, but that portfolio appears to have been disestablished. 

Land Information New Zealand has been moved from Upston to Chris Luxon. He has also been given research, science and manufacturing. He keeps the local government and associate transport roles. 

Harete Hipango had held the research and science portfolio, which has now been given to Luxon. She now holds the children/oranga tamariki, whānau ora, māori development and māori tourism portfolios. 
 
Nicola Grigg and Simon O'Connor have been acting spokespeople in the trade and export growth and internal affairs portfolios. Both have been appointed permanent spokespersons in those portfolios. 

Collins said the reshuffle was required following the decision of Muller and Nick Smith to retire. 
 
She has been conducting performance reviews with her caucus for months, testing whether MPs are happy and working well in their portfolios. 
 
National's caucus has been meeting frequently during the lockdown. Most party caucus's meet just once a week - National has been meeting every two days during the week.