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Mike's Minute: The deputy Prime Minister job doesn’t matter

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 10:12AM

Mike's Minute: The deputy Prime Minister job doesn’t matter

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 10:12AM

The deputy Prime Minister debate has begun to occupy the bored.

Who will it be? David Seymour, Winston Peters or Nicola Willis?

As the jobs at the highest level get divvied up there are some jobs to pay attention to and deputy Prime Minister isn't one of them.

Firstly, the job issue is partly resolved by the size of the Cabinet, and the beauty of the size of Cabinet is it can pretty much be whatever size you want.

Previous Governments set a precedent of sorts. You don’t want to make it look like you’ve invented portfolios, but the number of ministers in the high 20's seems to be a fair, old guess.

Then you have the inside/outside Cabinet jobs, the Minister of whatever outside Cabinet and deputy ministers. By the time you have added all those jobs together that’s a lot of jobs to go around and, more importantly in an MMP deal of three parties, plenty of baubles to assuage the angsty.

As regards deputy Prime Minister, the Carmel Sepuloni/Kelvin Davis deal sort of shows that it doesn’t matter. We spent the last three years completely confused over who was deputy leader of a party vs deputy leader of a country.

There is no point getting too exercised about who gets what from what party because in many cases whoever gets whatever they get will be a vast improvement on what we had. I think Nanaia Mahuta in foreign affairs was surely the most bizarre and shockingly thought through appointment of the modern political age.

I am also looking for rough proportion. 38% for National vs 8% for Act and 6% for NZ First. So, on those numbers, well under half the portfolios should go to Act and NZ First.

You need common sense in some jobs. Mark Mitchell as Police Minister, for obvious reasons. We already know Nicola Willis will be Finance Minister. Is there a Treasurer? If there is, does that look like an invented role like it did last time?

Foreign affairs is important. Education and health are important. With massive turnarounds required, they need to be handed to professionals, not look like negotiated favours.

But Minister of statistics, racing, internal affairs, local Government, Auckland (if they keep that), commerce and tech are not so much. Although everyone in that sector would argue their importance, they don't make or break Governments.

Deputy Prime Minister fits that category as well. It's the fill-in when Christopher Luxon is away, its ceremonial, it's a title. And as we will find out, some are more interested in titles than others.

If you know what I mean.

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