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Barry Soper: PM must show leadership with cabinet reshuffle

Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 25 June 2019, 9:09AM
Jacinda Ardern needs to make the necessary changes in reshuffle, writes Barry. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Jacinda Ardern needs to make the necessary changes in reshuffle, writes Barry. (Photo / NZ Herald)

It seems somewhat appropriate that Jacinda Ardern's first outing of the day in the Beehive on Thursday will be to speak at a Treaty of Versailles function remembering the end of World War I.

Later in the day she'll be announcing what she says will be a minor reshuffle of her Cabinet - and this for some leaders in the past has become a declaration of war to those who believe they're worthy of better.

The reshuffle will be minor because most of those who should be in Cabinet are already there. And the amount of time Ardern's taken getting around to shuffling the chairs just goes to show how hard leadership is for a person who clearly finds it hard to be hard.

Think of the amount of time it took to move Clare Curran on from broadcasting for failing to declare meetings, or the drawn-out process of showing Meka Whaitiri the door after she was accused of bullying.

The difficulty for Ardern is that for nine years she essentially moulded into the Labour background until she walked into the Mt Albert electorate when David Shearer called it a day and then stepped up when Annette King decided she'd had her day and moved on as deputy leader.

Before she even had time to really get used to leadership, Andrew Little was having cold feet and persuaded her to do the job she claims she never wanted and of course Winston Peters gave her the nod for the ultimate political prize.

So now it's time to shaft some of her colleagues and with someone from her background that's no easy task.

Her kitchen Cabinet cobber Phil Twyford's feet wouldn't have touched the ground if a more experienced leader was wielding the machete with the KiwiBuild cock-ups and the trouble in transport.

But she likes him around so he's likely to be left sitting at the table, but surely with a portfolio change.

And who could forget the Inspector Clouseau bumbling over the case involving drug runner Karel Sroubek? He didn't know whether he was coming or going, and neither it seems did Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, telling him he could stay before deciding he had to go. Sroubek's still here fighting his case and Lees-Galloway should be doing to same on Thursday.

Speaking of 'fighting', Meka Whaitiri's done her time and at the very least should be restored to a Minister-in-Waiting outside of Cabinet. And the man who was doing her job and Clare Curran's, Kris Faafoi, will almost certainly get the call into the inner sanctum.

Faafoi's the rare exception of successfully making the transition from journalism, telling them how they should do it, to actually doing it.

So he'll be feeling about as relaxed as the New Zealand First ministers, who are of course untouchable.


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