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PM John Key names new cabinet; Smith gets Environment; Bridges gets Transport; Adams gets Justice; Tolley gets Social Development

PM John Key names new cabinet; Smith gets Environment; Bridges gets Transport; Adams gets Justice; Tolley gets Social Development
John Key announcing his new cabinet in the Beehive Theatrette on October 6.

By Bernard Hickey

Prime Minister John Key has named his new cabinet, with changes including Nick Smith moving to Environment and Bill English taking on Housing New Zealand as well as Treasury.

Among the key changes, former Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman becomes Health Minister. Former Environment Minister Amy Adams becomes Justice Minister and moves to the front bench, while Simon Bridges also moves to the front bench and becomes Transport Minister.

"There is a lot of work ahead to continue implementing our plans to build a stronger economy, reduce debt and create more jobs," Key said.

"The new Ministry builds on the experience of the past two terms in office, and combines experience with some fresh talent," he said.

"A number of Ministers have had significant portfolio changes, reflecting the need to give Ministers new challenges as well as providing a fresh set of eyes in some portfolio areas."

Former Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was promoted to number five in the rankings and picks up State Services, Social Housing and Associate Finance, in addition to retaining her Local Government portfolio.

Christopher Finlayson remains Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney-General, and becomes Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service and Minister Responsible for the GCSB. Finlayson will work with Key, who has created for himself a new role as Minister for National Security and Intelligence.

"In this role I will continue to be responsible for leading the national security system, including policy settings and the legislative framework. Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants," Key said.

"Officials have examined models used overseas and what we are adopting is very similar to what is seen with our closest partners."

Powerful group focuses on Housing

Key said Housing continued to be a key area of focus for the Government. He said a ministerial team of Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith had been assembled to lead that work.

"Mr English will have direct responsibility for Housing New Zealand; Ms Bennett will focus on social housing, while Dr Smith will work on housing affordability and construction issues. The Social Housing portfolio will have responsibility for the government's social housing functions, and for its relationship with the social housing sector," Key said.

Former Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee becomes Minister of Defence, while retaining the role of Leader of the House and his Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and EQC portfolios.

Anne Tolley becomes Minister for Social Development and Nikki Kaye becomes Minister for ACC.

Michael Woodhouse becomes Minister of Police. He also becomes Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, "a new portfolio title to reflect the modern focus of what had previously been the Labour portfolio."

Jo Goodhew becomes Minister for Food Safety.

Three new ministers

Key said three new Ministers would be appointed.

Maggie Barry goes straight into Cabinet as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister of Conservation and Minister for Senior Citizens.

Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith will be Ministers outside Cabinet holding a variety of portfolios.

"Two ministers previously outside Cabinet have been promoted to Cabinet. Todd McClay will be Minister of Revenue and Minister for State Owned Enterprises, while Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will be Minister of Corrections, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Minister for Pacific Peoples," Key said.

"Craig Foss remains a Minister, but will now serve outside Cabinet as Minister for Small Business, Minister of Statistics and Minister of Veteran's Affairs," Key said.

"Chester Borrows will not be appointed to the new Ministry. He will, however, be National's nominee for Deputy Speaker, and I want to thank Chester for his service as a Minister."

Some stay in roles

A number of Ministers would keep their portfolios, including Steven Joyce in Economic Development, Hekia Parata in Education, Murray McCully in Foreign Affairs, Nathan Guy in Primary Industries, Tim Groser in Trade and Climate Change, and Nicky Wagner in Customs.

Key said the National Caucus would meet tomorrow to elect its three whips for the coming parliamentary term.

The new Ministry will be sworn in at Government House in Wellington at 11am on Wednesday morning.

(Updated with wider National Security role for Key, updated with background, quotes)

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The Jolly Kid is quietly setting up the Gnats with a succession plan  for when he and Wild Bill eventually move on ... Mistress Paula gets Associate Finance , a role which may groom her for Finance Minister , when the right time arrives ... and Chester is given a thanks , but time to move on , buddy ...
... and this is a far cry from Labour , who were cut hopelessly adrift by Helen Clark and Sir Micky , when they bailed out after the 2008 election thrashing ...  6 years later ,and there's  still no resolution to their leadership woes and factionisationalysing ...
Class act , our JK !

Yeah right!
When he has to bring Bridges on to his front bench, that really does show a surplus of wonderful talent. Not.


National certainly does have a big supply of very talented individuals. A very exciting time to live in NZ.

... which is why I hope they kick Crusher Collins onto the backbench for the full term ... they really don't need her when there's so many other rising stars awaiting a chance to shine ...
Judy only has herself to blame for her remarkable series of gaffes .... game over !

I don't think Paula Bennet has proven she has the gravitas and intellectual horsepower to take the step up to being the next Finance minister. If she can work with Nick Smith and Bill English to implement reforms to local government (her ministry) to return NZ to affordable housing levels then she may have earnt the step up.

Am I the only one who just doesn't understand (believe may be a better word) the government when they say ffordable house values? What does that mean?
Will they take action that reduces prices by around 20% - of course they won't, and that includes not building enough homes (their policy) that will bring prices down?
Will they increase wages by 20% without houe prices going up - no.
So what is it that they claim to be looking into?

No you are not the only one Craig.

discounts to foreign buyers?

No it's more puffery. There isn't enough time for current government initiatives to do anything about residential property values before the next election.
JK is on record as saying (i) he wants/expects a soft landing on property prices (prices plateau while wages catch up - preferably before we are all dead) and (ii) that pouring money into housing is his preferred method for the country to save for the future.
What JK will never admit is that every year that the government tolerates all this money being diverted into what is actually consumer spending is another year that our businesses - especially our smaller businesses - struggle with unnecessarily high input costs and struggle to get finance to grow. So he is opting for a sputtering cargo-cult economy. Oh goody.
There are now two pathways heading towards "affordable housing". English, Smith and Bennett (along with Amy Adams who is now out of the group) fired off a request in September to the Productivity Commission to investigate planning processes and infrstructure funding in councils. This inquiry actually has potential to deliver significant results if the government has the cojones to implement the recommendations - very unlikely based on their history. But the earliest councils can start implementing any policy that does come out of the inquiry would be July 2017 too late to deliver anything before the next election.
The second pathway are the new initiatives in social housing which are basically another transfer into lower income groups. They can only work through a combination of taxpayer-funded subsidies, sourcing land at below market rates and skimping on construction. It does, howver, deliver the one benefit that the government is seeking: it doesn't deflate property values or upset the current market structures.

Re: "will they take action that reduces (house) prices by around 20% -of course they will not"
I will give three reasons why Key's Cabinent selection means there will be no effort made to make housing affordable.
1. The government wants to sell of a 1/4 of the State Housing stock. They want to get the maximum value for this sell off (Probably helps with achieving no.1 goal -tax cuts). So Key has set up a internal conflict of interest. The government could implement policies to pop unaffordable house prices or they could chase the unaffordability upwards so they maximise asset sales.
2. John Key has put Bill English in charge of selling off the State Houses. Thus silencing National's biggest advocate for affordable housing.
3. National plans to replace State housing with NGO social housing provision. Thus bringing the likes of the Salvation Army into the National tent. Don't expect much criticism of housing induced poverty from them.
This is a master class of 'full spectrum' politics but terrible economics. Productive NZ will struggle with unnecessary costs and a generation of kiwis will have their aspirations smashed.

"has the gravitas and intellectual horsepower to take the step up "

I agree... but she has the blind and bought loyalty...

Don't underestimate Paula Bennett.
She's female, rounded and happy.   Maybe that blinds you to her skill level.  Grey suits are not the only way forward.

Mistress Paula is most definitely well rounded ... ohhhhh yeah .....
... not sure about her gravitas ... we just use the stuff that comes in a sachet and you mix with hot water ... still tastes good enough on the roast ...

so more shootings then...

Key offloads GCSB and SIS to Finlayson.  Whew, he says. 
Finlayson will give the Media and anyone else short shift if they dare to ask him any questions on security.

probably needs it to help with all those memory gaps he was suffering from...

I have some more questions.
How many Local governments ministers has John Key had?
If John Key genuinely wanted to create a powerful housing group wouldn't he put the Transport Minister -Simon Bridges into the group?

Yeah, give the boy a man's job.
Better still send him down a mine to see what mining is really about.

At least 4:

  • Rodney Hide
  • Nick Smith
  • Chris Tremain
  • Paula Bennett

It's complicated by the fact that the government department responsible for local government (Internal Affairs) has its own separate minister. It's also complicated by the fact that the only minister that matters when it comes to affordable housing is the Minister for the Environment. And Nick Smith is baaaaack after his little venture into corruption back in 2012.

Simon Bridges? You're joking...Have you ever heard him speak..?!

I have noticed that he can't talk and breathe at the same time, a feat that requires almost no intelligence at all

I wasn't suggesting Simon Bridges is uniquely qualified to solve lifes difficult problems. Clearly he is not. Only that affordable housing solutions need integrated transport solutions. Hence the need for a Transport minister in the housing group.

Absolutely. The Minister of Transport defines the shape and functionality of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The respective councils are only allowed to fill in the blank spaces.
Any initiative on affordable housing that doesn't  also set the priorities of NZTA and Kiwirail is an exercise in futility.

One of the most worrying things about this lineup is the excessive power it now puts into the hands of Chris Finlayson, a  completely unaccountable Minister of Treaty Negotiations who was never elected to Parliament in the first place. Moreover his arrogance is well-known and overwhelming, and he seems to believe that he is above court processes.
Finlayson, advised Iwi to bypass the courts to deal just with him. And he doesn't believe, apparently, in  taking on board very good evidence making an extremely strong claim that some of the deals he has rubberstamped should never have been okayed by Parliament. The process has been disgraceful.
Our democracy is in a very bad state when Key picks  his favourite cronies to give them extraordinary power over New Zealanders - even though nobody ever voted them into Parliament!
The prime minister needs to remember that although National got the most seats in parliament, most New Zealanders did not vote for him, or National. Think about this...
Labour has done us all a very bad turn in making such a hash of what should have been an effective Opposition.
This  has enabled a virtually dictatorial and damaging Prime Minister (if he wants a flag change taxpayers are going to have to dig into their pockets to pay for it.). We are now a poor apology for anything resembling a democracy.

Finlayson, a list MP, often appears as a 'hostile witness' when asked perfectly legitimate questions by journalists.   

It will be interesting to see how questions on GCSB that carry over from Dirty Politics revelations are treated. As Key is no longer the Minister - does that mean he cannot be held responsible for what he did/did not do in the previous term? I also wonder how the Gwyn inquiry is progressing.  A RNZ reporter who appeared before her had the emails he had collated for that appearance on his laptop mysteriously deleted whilst he was out of the office covering the election. 

I've had a couple of interactions with Chris Findlayson.  He clearly has been captured by Maori  interests.  Pity, because on other issues he seems really useful and able to cut through the clutter.

You're spot on about saying he's been captured, but  not by the interests of Maoris in general, but by those of the very powerful,  manipulative Iwi. And this has accumulatively  cost us all hundreds of millions of dollars in unjustified "compensation".
Finalyson has not taken the trouble to read balanced accountsof  interactions between (what we should no longer be calling) tribes and the government.He's simply bad-mouthed and dismissed reputable researchers who have become highly concerned about the rip-offs to the taxpayer by the quite shockingly inadequate scrutiny given to some of these major claims.
When we hear about child poverty in this country, we have to remember that we are talking about family poverty... And a major reason for this is the complete dismissal of the needy by wealthy, part-Maori tribal overlords and CEOs who have made sure that none of the 37 billion dollars that  the Maori economy is now worth has gone to those Maori who are genuinely disadvantaged.
The real reasons, it can be argued, for the unaddressed poverty of these families has been the government throwing money at iwi negotiators - money that did not come from the pockets of government members themselves!  - without requiring any accountability on behalf of the taxpayer, who's been forced to pay for these.
Secondly, it is extremely wealthy, politicised iwi overlords who are very much to blame for ensuring that the settlement monies which were intended to go to those most in need did not do so. This is  done deliberately
The accountability we should be requiring  is from the inexcusably rude  Minister of Treaty Negotiations - who has not supplied us with this - and from the politicised iwi negotiators  whose prime interest appears to have been looking after themselves and their whanua...and who never get taken to court when any rorts they've been perpetuating are revealed. The whole situation is shocking -  and inexcusable.