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Luxon unveils National's new lineup, Collins demoted

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Dec 2021, 1:57pm
(Photo / Mark Mitchell)
(Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Luxon unveils National's new lineup, Collins demoted

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Dec 2021, 1:57pm

National has unveiled its new-look line up with big promotions for Chris Bishop and Erica Stanford, now ranked fourth and seventh.

Bishop has been reunited with the shadow leader of the house portfolio, which Collins stripped him of.

Stanford has taken education from Paul Goldsmith, and retained the immigration portfolio.

She has rocketed up the rankings, having been ranked 25th previously.

One of the biggest losers is former leader Judith Collins, demoted to 19th. But she still stays in the shadow cabinet, and has the research, science and innovation portfolio.

New National Party leader Chris Luxon has decided to part with the tradition of giving the entire caucus - except new and departing MPs - a numbered ranking.

Instead, he's given rankings to the first 20 MPs, and left the rest unranked.

'Ultimate team sport'

Speaking at a press conference after revealing the reshuffle this afternoon, Luxon described politics as the "ultimate team sport".

He said his line-up was based on performance, as well as matching people to their experience and skills.

Luxon said every MP had a significant role to play, and he hadn't ranked those below the shadow Cabinet because it was irrelevant, and performance mattered more than ranking.

The new party leader said he'd spoken to every MP himself, but had not talked to previous leaders Sir John Key or Bill English or Steven Joyce to get their opinions on MPs' strengths and weaknesses.

He said another former party leader, Todd Muller, had re-entered caucus. Luxon said it was a decision for Muller to make whether to stand again in the next election.

"I know he wants to come back and be part of our team."

Luxon this afternoon said he watched the MPs closely for the past year and seen where their strengths and weaknesses lay.

He said he had watched low-ranked MPs perform very well against their counterparts in that area.

On Judith Collins, he said the ousted National leader had a "real passion" for the portfolio she was given.

Asked how he could be convinced the reshuffle would unite the party, Luxon said MPs were feeling energised because of public feedback that change was needed.

Luxon said he was still working on getting his own office set up in terms of staff, but was loving the pace of his job.

"I'm absolutely loving it. I'm somebody who needs to be wired and ready to go 24-Seven."

Luxon asked deputy Nicola Willis to start working on redeveloping Bill English's social investment work from the last term. That included a programme to identify and target social assistance to at-risk people early on.

Match-ups promised

"My shadow Cabinet leverages the wealth of talent and depth of real-world experience across the National caucus team," Luxon said earlier today.

"I have deliberately selected a shadow Cabinet of 20 members to match the Government's Cabinet.

"I'm confident that when you put any of National's shadow ministers against their Labour counterparts, you'll see that National's MPs have the deep experience, the political skills, the work ethic and the intellectual grunt to come out on top every time," Luxon said.

Former deputy leader Dr Shane Reti has suffered the least of Collins' former team. He has fallen from second place to fifth.

And Reti has kept health and been given the Maori-Crown and Pacific Peoples portfolios.

Whip Matt Doocey has kept mental health and youth and been given a ranking of 8. He was previously ranked 20. He has been given the associate transport portfolio. The caucus will elect the party's whips tomorrow.

One MP to suffer a severe drop is Todd McClay, falling from number six to the unranked bottom of the list. He's got the trade portfolio and tourism.

Simeon Brown continues his dramatic rise, climbing up the ranks from 19 to ninth. He's dropped his police portfolio (given to Mark Mitchell - number 14, down one) and been given transport and public service.

Collins ally David Bennett has been stripped of transport, and dumped to 20th.

Veteran MP Gerry Brownlee is ranked 14, and has retained the foreign affairs and spy agency GCSB and SIS portfolios.

Goldsmith will be spokesman for justice, workplace relations and safety.

Barbara Kuriger, ranked 10th, has the agriculture, biosecurity and food safety portfolio.

Two take a tumble

Former finance team Andrew Bayly and Michael Woodhouse have tumbled off the front bench.

Bayly now has small business, commerce, manufacturing, building and construction, and revenue, and is ranked 15.

Woodhouse has state-owned enterprises, ACC, statistics, sport and recreation and is ranked 18.

Luxon's deputy, Nicola Willis, has the number two spot, and last week leadership rival Simon Bridges was given the finance and infrastructure portfolios and a ranking of number three.

All other portfolios are up for grabs. You can watch the press conference live here.

Earlier today, it became clear the reshuffle would be the first test of what will be a big week for Luxon, who assumed the leadership last Thursday.

On Tuesday he will face Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in question time. It will be Luxon's first time squaring off against the Prime Minister as leader of the Opposition, and a huge test for his leadership.

Luxon has said he will find a job for all of the party's former leaders: that means roles not just for Bridges, but for Judith Collins and Todd Muller too.

Muller could also use the reshuffle as an opportunity to announce he'll no longer be retiring at the next election. Muller has not ruled out staying on, after being asked whether he'd consider it following the change of leadership.

All eyes were going to be on the front bench, and prime portfolios: health, education, foreign affairs, justice, transport and social development.

Previous National leaders have struggled to diversify their top line up. Luxon admitted the caucus as a whole struggled with diversity thanks to its dismal showing at the last election.

The reshuffle was to be a test of how Luxon balanced the need to promote talent within his caucus, while also playing to the various factions that have developed.

Luxon assumed the leadership last week, having spent a little over a year in Parliament.

Collins was deposed from the leadership in a no-confidence vote that followed her decision to strip Bridges of his portfolios and demote him as punishment for a lewd joke.

The episode was widely seen as an attempt by Collins to save her own fragile leadership from Bridges, who was known to be mounting a coup against her.

- by Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald

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