Mike's Minute: Cabinet reshuffle - The good, the inept and the invisible

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Friday, 1 February 2019, 7:16a.m.


From the 'I am here to help' file, why don't we look at the pending Cabinet reshuffle? Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has decided we will get one after the budget in May. Why then? I have no idea.

But the good thing about the reshuffle, having had a look at the current line up, is there is plenty of reshuffling to be done.

The further good news is the reality of government is you only need a handful of really competent operators to actually make things function, the rest is largely made up of do gooders, try-hards, and party hacks.

This Government's executive is large, larger than they said it would be, and could be for efficiencies sake trimmed down. And also to a degree some of the dead wood has already been removed in the form of Clare Curran and Meka Whaitiri, who would have made the 'let's move them sideways' list anyway.

How about we start with the talent? We stick initially with Labour given that's the part the Prime Minister controls - she's not reshuffling Winston is she?

Grant Robertson, Megan Woods, Andrew Little, Stuart Nash, and Kris Faafoi are those who have performed.

Now do remember this is not about whether you agree with policy or direction, it's to do with performance within the portfolios, based on what they're there to deliver.

All the aforementioned have profile, have been active, have looked in control - and have a reassuring presence about them. All of them, most likely, could move to other areas and not make a fool of themselves.

I would put David Parker in there, but I've not seen enough of him to be sure, he's one of a number who could be good, you just wouldn't know. The heaviest hitter, portfolio wise, I have not mentioned is David Clark in health. He's not a disaster, but he's not exactly been omnipresent. I would have thought health is too important to have such a low profile.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is among the under-performers.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is among the under-performers.

And then we come to the trouble, Kelvin Davis, Phil Twyford, Nanaia Mahuta, Iain Lees-Galloway, Aupito William Sio and Willie Jackson. All are either useless, inept, incompetent, or invisible, and I think if you follow the game you'll be pretty aware as to who fits into what category.

For what it's worth, just because I can, and Ardern can't, I'll take a crack.

As far as the Greens are concerned, they do suffer the plight of the low profile and being outside the coalition per se. But James Shaw is good, Julie Anne Genter is rabid (but at least passionate), the rest have made no impact. I would have thought that was a concern.

In New Zealand First, Winston is having his best term not just in government but probably in Parliament. Ron Mark is solid, and Shane Jones, love him or hate him, you can't ignore him and he's made an impact. The rest? Non-events but, given the size of their caucus, that's a pretty high proportion of performers.

So the good news for the Prime Minister is, if she's serious, and that's a massive question mark given her lack of leadership in things like the Lees-Galloway, Phil Twyford and Curran debacles, but if she's serious, she's got plenty of room for movement.

She's got a half decent number of solid performers keeping things ticking over. Only question is, and it's the test of all political parties, if she moves the dead wood, is there undiscovered talent there ready for promotion?