Key kept that close to his chest

January 22nd, 2013 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

Well managed to surprise me and most other people, and has done a quite significant reshuffle, with a substantial rejuvenation of the Ministry.

Those leaving the Ministry are:

  • David Carter to become Speaker
  • Kate Wilkinson
  • Phil Heatley

Kate and Phil have performed well in their portfolios, and their departures are not sackings. It is simply the reality I talked about this morning that you need rejuvenation.

Promoted direct into Cabinet is Auckland Central MP who has become Minister of Food Safety, Civil Defence and Youth Affairs and Associate Minister of Education and Immigration. She will be the youngest female Minister in ’s history.

Senior Whip becomes a Minister outside Cabinet as Minister of Immigration, Veterans’ Affairs and Associate Transport.

moves into Cabinet from outside and gets more grunty portfolios of Labour and Energy.

Oh and as expected moves back into Cabinet as Housing and Conservation Minister. Paula Bennett is made Associate Housing.

Nathan Guy as expected gets Primary Industries and Jo Goodhew Associate.

Chris Tremain pciks up Local Government Minister.

And in a very good move Steven Joyce is put in charge of Novopay, and fixing the problems there.

The caucus will need to elect a new senior whip, but I can’t imagine any reason whu junior whip Louise Upston won’t succeed to that – so the focus is probably more on who from 2011 may step up to become junior whip.

I’m delighted that the PM has been bolder than expected, and effectively brought forward what I thought would be a year end reshuffle. And I’m looking forward to the new Ministers making a difference in their new portfolios.

Big thanks to Phil and Kate also for their service.

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58 Responses to “Key kept that close to his chest”

  1. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    Really at times you talk absolute pap. Of course sacking Wilkinson and Heatley is a reflection of performance. If it was solely about rejuvenation then why promote a veteran mp or leave other veteran maps in place. Fundamentally it is about political effectiveness. Neither Wilkinson and Heatley will be missed. But there is no reason to rub their noses in it.

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  2. hmmokrightitis (1,596 comments) says:

    “And in a very good move Steven Joyce is put in charge of Novopay, and fixing the problems there.”

    A very good move? On what planet? Code for Hekia, youre fucking useless, get on with keeping your head down, I cant sack you for various reasons, let SJ fix the problems you should have seen coming.

    The problem with having a hammer (Joyce) as your only solution is that everything starts to look like a nail. Yes, the Ministry failed utterly to deliver a decent payroll system. But FFS, it gives the incumbent minister a chance to get it sorted. Talk about having your authority usurped.

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  3. David Farrar (1,437 comments) says:

    You’re talking relative performance. I’m talking absolute. Of course some Ministers perform better than others. But I stand by my assertion that neither Kate nor Phil have performed in such a way that they should be sacked. It was about rejuvenation.

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  4. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Kate and Phil have performed well in their portfolios, and their departures are not sackings.

    Anyone for a Tui?

    Though I’m at a loss as to what saved Hekia Parata when these two get the sack and she doesn’t.

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  5. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    Oh, David: of course Wilkinson and Heatley have been sacked. That’s what rejuvenation is: you get rid of the useless and past the use-by date. In the kind of rejuvenation you mean, why wouldn’t he get rid of Bill English, Steven Joyce… and so on.

    It’s about as disingenuous as the prime minister’s asserting the other day that Hekia Parata is an excellent communicator.

    And congratulations for having something up on your site before Fair ‘Facts’ and The Royal New Zealand O’Herald.

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  6. Viking2 (11,668 comments) says:

    If Nick the useless is the answer to housing then John Key is the Mad Hatter.
    Smith was the driver behind the allowing of non treated pinus radiata timber to be used in NZ housing with the resultant leaking buildings collapsing within their framework. what a fucking insult to people with leaking homes.

    The only people clapping about his appointment to conservation will be the Greens and they were crowing at daybreak this morning.

    Key is a flake.

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  7. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    But David they were sacked. The reality is they are not politically effective. And John Key has a duty as PM to keep rejuvenating his Ministry with politically effective Ministers. They were ok I suppose but that is not good enough when others need their turn.

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  8. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    It’s politicking nonsense to call them sackings, but those without any practical business experience might not understand that people need to be moved both up and down to make worthwhile changes.

    This boldness grabs the initiave for the beginning of a new political year.

    Will Shearer do likewise and signal some meaningful rejuvenation in Labour?

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  9. SPC (5,664 comments) says:

    When will the United Party or New Zealand First be rejuvenated?

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  10. dime (10,212 comments) says:

    ministry of Youth Affairs – what does that actually do?

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  11. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    But I assume other Ministers are on notice especially Parata. If she does not lift her game then she is gone. She has to be as Education is an issue that could swing an election. I have no doubt she has been given that message.

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  12. campit (467 comments) says:

    Congrats to Nikki Kaye – hopefully we’ll see better representation for Auckland around the Cabinet table.

    Tim Grosner stays as Minister for Climate Change Issues. Thought he was moving on?

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  13. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    It is simply the reality I talked about this morning that you need rejuvenation.

    Nick Smith was first a Minister under Bolger in 1996!

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  14. david (2,194 comments) says:

    Hahahaha it certainly makes Barry Soper look inept. All the posturing about being down on the ice and getting a nod and a wink from John Key about cabinet appointments, delivering speculation as news for the last 24 hours instead of keeping the powder dry and delivering facts as news after the event, makes Soper and assorted others, breathless bimbos from various newsrooms and those wallowing in their cold weather gear and their own self-importance, look like the ineffectual twats they really are. John Key 7 (converted try) : MSM 0 (donut)

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  15. Manolo (14,165 comments) says:

    There are too many ministries of little substance, e.g. Youth Affairs, Womens Affairs, Racing, Pacific Island Affairs, etc.

    The gutless National Party should rationalise and reduce the number of quangos, instead of distributing ministerships like sinecures.

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  16. rg (214 comments) says:

    Shame Key didn’t shuffle himself. All the rejuvenation in the world will not make the slightest difference with a gutless PM at the helm. A National PM with some balls is what is needed. I vote for Judith.

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  17. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    SPC – NZ First may need a good embalming for that. The only way UF will rejuvenate is if a new generation from outside recognise the opportunity of fasttracking their ambitions (albeit with major risks).

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  18. pollywog (1,153 comments) says:

    i think youll find Judith has a frontbum where her balls should be…rg

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  19. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    Well having a lot of ministers helps keep the caucus in line. A lot of the jobs are flannel. But junior Ministers need training. There will not be a reduction in the Ministry anytime soon. Then you have the other jobs and overseas trips, the promise of a job on retirement. Maybe a diplomatic post for Wilkinson and Heatley to keep them calm. A gong? A PM has many things to play with. As they say if you cannot square them you squash them and if you cannot squash them you square them.

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  20. Manolo (14,165 comments) says:

    I second rg’s motion. Smile & wave is a complete flop.

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  21. Wayne91 (142 comments) says:

    Brilliant move keeping Hekia Parata – when you have the teachers unions, Labour, Greens and some sections of the media calling for her to be sacked, keeping her on is a brilliant strategy and will result in the the opposition getting thier collective nickers in a knot about it rather than focusing on being an effective opposition.

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  22. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    Kate and Phil have performed well in their portfolios, and their departures are not sackings. It is simply the reality I talked about this morning that you need rejuvenation.

    Lol. You must be gettin dizzy, what, with all that spinning. Can’t be self-delusion surely?

    The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

    Friedrich Nietzsche

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  23. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    Vernon Small is on to it:

    By elevating Nikki Kaye, Simon Bridges and Michael Woodhouse – the latter a quiet achiever destined for an even higher ranking – he has made changes that will not look tepid compared with the reshuffle David Shearer will unveil soon.

    First trick of the political year to Key.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/8208094/Cabinet-reshuffle-surprise

    And the changes put all ministers on notice that performance is important and those not up to it may be demoted. That should result in a better cabinet doing a better job, which will be good for the country.

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  24. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    Wilkinson is probably the best performing minister in New Zealand’s history. I cannot imagine why Key would dump her.

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  25. Mark (1,502 comments) says:

    Parata’s survival will be one of those modern miracles that will continue to mystify future generations of political historians for years to come. Heatly and Wilkinson must be gutted in that they are deemed to be more useless than Parata. Good god that must be demoralising

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  26. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    Healthy could go off and join Colin Kaye’s conservatives. Bet he doesn’t he does not strike me as particularly adventurous.

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  27. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    John Armstrong makes a valid point – Heatley and Wilkinson have had four years to make a mark and have at best made a modest impression. Parata has had only a year. If she repeats anything like that performance don’t expect her to get three more years.

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  28. Viking2 (11,668 comments) says:

    Actually Heatley did a good job of Fisheries where it was his interest, wasn’t chuffed about getting Energy but knew he had stuff to do. One can say that he clearly kept the Govt out of trouble in that front. Bridges won’t as he is too naive and the hard men in Greenpeace will roast him. What would have been smart would have been to make Bridges a Associate Minister in Energy where he could bring into play his law knowledge, something Heatley will have struggled a bit with.

    Heatley has also made good changes to Housing NZ. Changes for the better I must say but more is needed. But like Williamson before him he will have been told not to rock the boat. A message Williamson made clear to anyone listening when it came to leaky buildings and their structural failure.

    Key seems to be covering his back and I have grave doubts he will make the serious changes needed for NZ.
    Hopefully Heatley will have more time to go fishing next year. Missed him this year even though the fish were there.

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  29. backster (2,195 comments) says:

    By failing to give Nick Smith Local Government I think KEY is signalling that he doesn’t intend to take on the councils over Rate Increases, excessive borrowing, and wasteful spending, all areas that Smith was brooking no argument about prior to his dismissal, and on which no progress was made during his absence.

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  30. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    Heatley and Wilkinson have been doing ok jobs. But ok is not good enough when you have talent waiting in the wings wanting to make their mark. Some will be good others fair. There will be retirements later this year. I can think of Williiamson and god knows McCully should move on. But those retirements are for late in the year. Rejuvenating you party is no easy task. But retiring Ministers who are doing ok jobs is a big call but the right one. They were not going to go any further in politics they have had a reasonable innings time to leave the crease.

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  31. Manolo (14,165 comments) says:

    Very close to the truth: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/tom-scott-cartoons/

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  32. Reid (16,681 comments) says:

    You’re talking relative performance. I’m talking absolute. Of course some Ministers perform better than others.

    So why is Parata still in Cabinet?

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  33. Mark (1,502 comments) says:

    “Heatley and Wilkinson have been doing ok jobs. But ok is not good enough when you have talent waiting in the wings wanting to make their mark. Some will be good others fair. There will be retirements later this year. I can think of Williiamson and god knows McCully should move on. But those retirements are for late in the year. Rejuvenating you party is no easy task. But retiring Ministers who are doing ok jobs is a big call but the right one. They were not going to go any further in politics they have had a reasonable innings time to leave the crease”.

    tvb by that logic how do you justify the retention of Parata??

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  34. Reid (16,681 comments) says:

    Personally I wonder if Parata’s husband, Wira Gardiner is the reason why she wasn’t exited. I assume Wira brings heaps of Maori votes to the table. Given the lack of other significant sources in National’s anatomy, and given the Maori propensity to use nepotist tactics to achieve their ends regardless of whether that’s good or not in terms of achieving the wider objectives, this, to me, stinks of blackmail.

    Why else has Key not just kept her at a high ranking but endorsed her, in a clear disparity with how he treats every other non-performer?

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  35. Viking2 (11,668 comments) says:

    The cynical in me suggests this is about lining up maori to set up a Maori and sympathisers Cabinet to introduce a Consitution including the TOW.

    We have lots to thank the Nats for. This will be another.

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  36. big bruv (14,217 comments) says:

    As per normal Neville Key is just tinkering. If he really wanted to make meaningful change he would have dumped the useless Parata, told Nick Smith to keep working on his garden and not even thought about promoting the party girl Nikki Kay.

    I agree with the dumping of Heatley and Wilkinson and applaud the promotion of Bridges but he really should have been far more vicious.

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  37. mikenmild (12,325 comments) says:

    Reid
    ‘I assume Wira brings heaps of Maori votes to the table’
    That is not an assumption for which there is any evidence.

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  38. pq (728 comments) says:

    Abolutely as above, in what way was Kate Wilkinson competant, disregarding even Pike river.
    Between her and Jonathon Coleman we had an entirely dysfunctional and weak Immigration system.
    Parata will haunt, already does haunt this Government.
    Next elections Green money launderers, I mean printers, I mean eco nuts 12%.
    Warning NZ Nat.
    Look what happened in USA young idealistic new arrivals, goodbye conservative Government

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  39. mikenmild (12,325 comments) says:

    pq
    Jonathan Coleman got promoted, didn’t he?

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  40. Reid (16,681 comments) says:

    That is not an assumption for which there is any evidence.

    That’s why I said “I wonder” mm.

    Fact remains: i.e. not an assumption, Parata is a serious underperformer, but Key for some unknown reason gives her a free ticket and I don’t know about you but I can’t think of another minister in Cabinet who gets such a free ticket. The question is why that might be, mm. What’s your view?

    The cynical in me suggests this is about lining up maori to set up a Maori and sympathisers Cabinet to introduce a Consitution including the TOW.

    There aren’t enough Maori in the caucus to do that V2. Anyway Key will hand the constitutional review off to the Maori Party and let them sell it. Which they will, because the entire opposition would not dare oppose it, they’ll cheer it. But Parata doesn’t need to be in the Cabinet to do that.

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  41. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Minister of Food Safety and Youth Affairs!!!!!!!!!

    About as useful as a race relations Conciliator

    She will be the youngest female Minister in National’s history

    Well, big fucking deal, another one who has never had a real job. We are being ruled by people half with zero life experience and the other half idiots. Jamie Ross, this bint,mjy little pony, the red headed chaser of naked boys, its crap. You could no more have a converstaion with this lot than fly to the moon.

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  42. mikenmild (12,325 comments) says:

    Reid
    Key, like some of his colleagues, thought Parata was the real deal. By the time it became apparent that she was useless he had committed himself to retaining her in the Cabinet. I merely note that she has been relieved of the irksome responsibility of working out teachers’ pay packets, and given an ambitious (younger) Associate Minister to breath down her neck.

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  43. pq (728 comments) says:

    above from the milkmaid
    mikenmild (6,487) Says:
    January 22nd, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Jonathan Coleman got promoted, didn’t he?

    and thats what happens when you have no good people, promote someone who keeps his botty clean, but does nothing except say yes leader, be sick here dude, vomit here

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  44. Reid (16,681 comments) says:

    Key, like some of his colleagues, thought Parata was the real deal.

    Well he’d have to be fucking stupid then wouldn’t he because most of us political observers knew different from the first time we saw her a bit like the first time we all saw Alamein Kopu. And most of us political observers didn’t have the benefit of the close contact that Key had had with her, over the years, before she hit the limelight.

    By the time it became apparent that she was useless he had committed himself to retaining her in the Cabinet.

    It’s been apparent she’s useless for a fucking long time and he could have, if he’d wanted, chucked her out right up until the time he heavily endorsed her to the journos travelling with him to Antartica, and no-one forced him to do that. Did they.

    Sorry mm but your theory doesn’t fit the facts as we all know them. No banana for you.

    You could no more have a converstaion with this lot than fly to the moon.

    Welcome to MMP Paul. Isn’t it good.

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  45. hinamanu (1,068 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, Jonathan Hunt, completely forgotten keeps troughing as ambassador in London.

    Not sure if he is but haven’t heard he’s not

    could be the most successful Kiwi beneficiary ever

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  46. mikenmild (12,325 comments) says:

    I’m yet to be convinced that today’s MPs are qualitatively worse than those of the pre-MMP days.

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  47. mikenmild (12,325 comments) says:

    hinamanu
    If you haven’t heard, Jonathan Hunt left that trough in 2008. It has been filled by an MFAT place-holder until Lockie was ready to go take the plum posting.

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  48. kowtow (8,935 comments) says:

    Nick back, but for how long?

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  49. s.russell (1,649 comments) says:

    Among the many comments I am tempted to make her is one:

    Key’s judgements about who gets promoted and who demoted will be based not just on public perceptions of those individuals but also on a whole lot of stuff that we the public do not know, including (for example) the problems which ministers have deftly fixed or made to disappear without anyone else noticing.

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  50. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    Key has a o a lot invested in Parata. Key thinks she needs longer in the portfolio to make her mark. But I suspect she only has 12 months. Waiting in the wings is Stephen Joyce and Nikki Kaye. Education is the type of portfolio that could lose the Government the election. But on the other side the Department also needs a shakeup It seems to think the minister is a mere figurehead. I do not think they will make that mistake with Stephen Joyce if they value a career. The official in charge of Novapay better be planning her retirement.

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  51. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Deftly played by Key. The chooks (inside the beltway nickname for journalists) love surprises and so the headlines that mention the words “bold” or “unexpected” and comments referrring to youthful new performers (like Nikki Kay) being promoted create the impression that the government has entered 2013 with some fresh energy and vision. These media narratives and perceptions are very important in governments moving forward and particularly important against the backdrop of the National coalition’s various missteps of 2012.

    Nick Smith’s return was predictable muddied only slighty by his unseemly self promotion over the last few days. That said even though Smith is an economic squishy wet, he has excellent political skills and well above average portfolio management and many years of the strategic vision implimentation at the Cabinet level. His close relationship with fellow brat packers Ryall and English, both essential power houses in the Key cabinet, helped in his swift rehabilitation. Crusher Collins’ swift cauterization of the Bronwyn Pillar inflicted ACC wound also helped.

    Parata’s continued presence in Cabinet was the subject of discussion amongst all my politically astute connections on a recent Christmas business trip to NZ. THe concensus we reached was:
    * Key is very anxious to not annoy the Maori Party – whilst there is no love lost between Parata and Sharples/Turia, her sacking or demotion would be seen (and publicly commented on) as a slight to Maori. It underlies the fragility of National’s coalition in this crucial year as they attempt to manouvre the SOE partial floats throught the icebergs of the court case and the referendum.
    * Education is a behemouth department taking some time for a new Minister to make a mark. Parata’s missteps are partly her not being on top of the bureaucracy in a way to manage the political risks of policies not essentially of her sole making (eg Chch schools restructure). Key has undoubtedly given Hekia a relatively narrow window in which to turn things around and she has assured hm that she will.
    * The weeping sore of Novapay has been deftly moved off Parata’s direct watch to a side bay where its last messes can be cleaned up. Outside the beltway, most people realize that huge IT jobs like this are often problematic. Labour ordered this boondoggle and ministers other than Parata oversaw its development – she happened to be the one on deck when it was launched and it had the usual glitches associated with massive upending IT projects in the government sector (remember all the dramas with the Police’s INCIS system). Plus there is a slight degree of discounting any of the education sector union bleating because most people realize they are never kind to centre right governments.
    * The Christchurch Schools situation is complex and tricky. My brother in law is on the BOT of a primary school surrounded by other primary schools scheduled for closure so he is at ground zero of this issue. He agreed with me that whilst the Ministry could’ve done the announcement more carefully and allowed a longer and more extensive consultation process (essentially what they’ve ended up deciding after all the hooha), there is no nice way to do this. Communities will be upended and schools that by any objective criteria need to be closed have vocal staff and parents giving a willing media a 1000 reasons why not to close THAT school. Everyone you talk to in Chch acknowledges the global reality of Chch post earthquakes (4500 students left and 300+ teachers and associated classrooms surplus to requirement) but no one wants the axe to fall on THEIR school. It is NIMBYism on a grand scale! Comparisons to previous Ministers of Education closing hundreds of schools in the past have little relevance. Even the large school closure programme in Invercargill is massively dwarfed by what is needed in Chch. Plus there were not hundreds of thousands of residents traumatized by 10,000s of aftershocks and earthquake ravaged communities. With NZ’s massive switch to secularism the role of the churches in being what used to be the glue of the community in a crisis has been largely replaced by schools and so these proposed closures are a sledgehammer that any government, minstry and minister would struggle to make palatable. I suspect that Parata will be given as much help as possible as the decisions come to a head and perhaps in some perverse way Key has set her up to be the fall person for the inevitable backlash that will occur in Chch and replace her once that job is done allowing a new Min Ed to clean up the residual mess and move on.

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  52. SPC (5,664 comments) says:

    So whose our Wednesday morning quarterback?

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  53. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    The least talked about promotion was that of Michael Woodhouse, a quiet achiever making an inceremental rise in the ranks.

    A modest amount of coverage has been complimentary, except for some hissiness from Clare Curran.

    http://yourdunedin.org/2013/01/23/reaction-to-woodhouses-promotion/

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  54. Manolo (14,165 comments) says:

    Any attack from the loathsome and bitchy Curran should be taken as a compliment.

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  55. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,760 comments) says:

    New Zealand is still bust.

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  56. Warren Murray (316 comments) says:

    Nick Smith strikes me as being quite brittle, esp for some one who has been in Parlt so long. I expect he’ll break down again.

    Accept a lot of what Kiwi in America has said, but Im very disappointed with Parata’s performance and would have liked to see some accountability for her non performance. More importantly, I think she is an electoral liability. perhaps the Pm thinks he can give her a little longer to lift her game and failing that respond to the public’s mood by sacking her closer to the election.

    Heatley was hopeless. The PM saw he had no ideas and was not on top of his department. the opposition were all over him at question time.

    Ive sometimes wondered if Key doesnt like Wilkinson and was peeved over the way she resigned her portfolio over Pike River instead of walking from Cabinet. She did well to win Waimakariri. Will she take this hint and retire? If not, watch out for a low list spot in 2014.

    Congrats to Kaye and Woodhouse, although The PM has been very cautious in the portfolios assigned to Woodhouse. Rightly so.

    The PM went beyond what i expected. What will Shearer do?

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  57. pq (728 comments) says:

    OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,633) Says:
    January 23rd, 2013 at 8:03 am
    New Zealand is still bust.

    thats right. he’s right you know when should we take our money out to $AUD or $CANADA it must be soon,
    the madman Gareth wants more taxes and so do Green and Labour, the third tax on assets, how long before Key can no longer resist . Also remember NZFirst want devaluation and the talks are going on now.
    disclosure I am a NZst member

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  58. Chuck Bird (4,891 comments) says:

    I see Key mentioned getting another report on compo for David Bain. He mentioned another report possibly by another person from overseas.

    I have two concerns. Firstly, Judith Collins is a very component Minister why does he not leave it to her to make her recommendation.

    Secondly, why does he not learn from Power’s mistake? Does Key not have confidence in our judges or QCs as to their competence and/or impartiality?

    I have a civil court case with a former lawyer. I would like assurance that the judge has not association with this former lawyer. Judging by his unfair ruling it make me think it a good possibility.

    Why do we need a judge in any case to do the report? We just need someone with a degree of common sense.

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