Why are some Ministers “Minister of” and others “Minister for”

October 10th, 2014 at 2:38 pm by David Farrar

Someone asked me this question on Twitter, and I wasn’t sure so I asked the Cabinet Office if there were any guidelines about why some titles are “Minister of Health” and others “Ministers for Arts, Culture and Heritage”.

The short answer is that the PM decides, so it is up to him.

The longer answer is that the following factors are taken into account:

  • usually, when new appointments are made to established portfolios, the portfolio titles remain the same (whether “of” or “for”, especially if the title is used in legislation)
  • “of” is often used where the portfolio relates directly to an actual Ministry or Department (eg Minister of Health, Minister of Justice, Minister of Corrections)
  • “for” is often used where the portfolio description is more “generic”, eg where the Minister is responsible for a particular topic or area (eg Minister for Regulatory Reform, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage);
  • sometimes, for reasons of sense or style, it just makes sense to use “of” or “for” (eg the former “Minister of Women’s Affairs has been changed to “Minister for Women”).

That makes a lot of sense. The last point especially resonates. Being the “Minister of Youth” or “Minister of Women” would sound very weird. Would be a cool business card though that said “Minister of Youth” 🙂

For those interested these are the different titles:

Minister Of

Civil Defence
Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Energy and Resources
Foreign Affairs
Internal Affairs
Local Government
Maori Affairs
Pacific Island Affairs
Science and Innovation
State Services
Veterans’ Affairs
Youth Affairs

Minister for

Arts, Culture and Heritage
Building and Housing
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Climate Change Issues
Disability Issues
Economic Development
Ethnic Communities
Food Safety
Land Information
National Security and Intelligence
Pacific Peoples
Primary Industries
Regulatory Reform
Senior Citizens
Small Business
Social Development
Social Housing
Sport and Recreation
State Owned Enterprises
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Workplace Relations and Safety
Whanau Ora
(the) Community and Voluntary Sector
(the) Environment

My thanks to the Cabinet Office for their prompt and helpful response.

Audrey’s Ministerial Report Card

November 12th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald Political Editor Audrey Young scores the Ministers out of 10. Her ratings are:

  • Chris Finlayson 9
  • Judith Collins 8.5
  • Tony Ryall 8.5
  • Bill English 8
  • David Carter 8
  • Jonathan Coleman 8
  • Tim Groser 8
  • Gerry Brownlee 7.5
  • John Key 7
  • Steven Joyce 7
  • Paula Bennett 7
  • Murray McCully 7
  • Anne Tolley 7
  • Amy Adams 7
  • Maurice Williamson 7
  • Simon Bridges 7
  • Nathan Guy 6
  • Craig Foss 6
  • Chris Tremain 6
  • Jo Goodhew 6
  • Chester Borrows 6
  • Phil Heatley 5
  • Kate Wilkinson 4
  • Hekia Parata 3

Only the National Ministers were ranked. The average or mean score was 6.8 out of 10 and the median was 7. 22 out of 24 Ministers got a 5/10 or higher.

If you take the 10 frontbench Ministers, the average score increases from 6.8 to 7.4 out of 10.

I am pleased to see Finlayson rated so highly. He has done a very good job, and I’d be inclined to look at keeping him in the Labour portfolio.

Audrey notes:

Chris Finlayson has emerged as one of John Key’s most valuable ministers in National’s second term. He has scored the highest rating of all ministers in my report card on the Executive prepared with colleagues in the Herald press gallery team. …

Mr Finlayson is Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister. He is also Labour Minister since Kate Wilkinson resigned after the royal commission’s damning report into the Pike River disaster.

On the face of it, that may not seem a natural fit – and it may be just a temporary appointment until the next reshuffle. But Mr Finlayson’s skill set may be the right one to keep the job for the rest of the term. He gets results. He has a big intellect and has a good head for detail. But he is also emotionally intelligent, and was a good choice to send to the West Coast to discuss the report with the Pike River families.

His achievements in Treaty Negotiations are the most notable. Who would have imagined two years ago the Government concluding a deal with Tuhoe?

The report card is done in consultation with the full Herald gallery team. Obviously Hekia Parata has the largest challenge in terms of restoring confidence. Eyes will be on how the Christchurch schools issue is resolved. There must be some change – you can’t ignore the earthquake’s impact on school rolls and damaged buildings. So there will be some people unhappy with the outcome no matter what. However if the communities down there feel they have been listened to, and that their views and arguments have had an impact on the final decisions, then that will help restore the reputation.

UPDATE: On reflection I think the Herald team have been a bit generous to a couple of Ministers. No, I won’t say which ones – but I’d say 21 out of 24 Ministers being 6/10 or higher is a bit generous.

The Ministers of the 50th Parliament

December 12th, 2011 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

The full list is here. I’ve summarised the changes in the table below.

Min New Rank Old Rank Change Gain Lose
Key 1 1
English 2 2 Infrastructure
Brownlee 3 3 Transport, EQC MED, Energy
Joyce 4 14 +10 MED, Science Transport, ICT, Ass Inf.
Collins 5 7 +2 Justice, ACC, Ethnic Police, Correct, Vets
Ryall 6 5 -1 SOEs State Sector
Parata 7 20 +13 Education, Pacific Ethnic, Womens
Finlayson 8 9 +1 Ass Maori
Bennett 9 16 +7
Smith 10 6 -4 Local Govt ACC
Carter 11 10 -1 Primary Industries
McCully 12 11 -1
Tolley 13 8 -5 Police, Corrs, Dep House Education
Coleman 14 18 +4 Defence, State Servs, Ass Fin Immigration, Broadcasting
Groser 15 12 -3
Heatley 16 17 +1 Energy Fisheries
Wilkinson 17 19 +2
Guy 18 22 +4 Immig, Racing, Vets, Ass Primary Internal Affairs
Foss 19 23 +4 Commerce, Broadcasting Civil Defence, Senior Cits, Racing
Adams 20 Int Affairs, ICT, Ass Cant
Williamson 21 21 Small Bus, Ass Cant
Tremain 22 Civil Def, Consumer  Affairs
Goodhew 23 Comm & Vol, Women, Senior Cits
Borrows 24 Courts, Ass Justice, Ass Soc Dev
Dunne Ass Cons
Banks Reg Reform, Small Bus
Turia Whanua Ora, Ass Housing, Ass Tert Ed Comm & Vol

The brand new Cabinet Minister is Amy Adams, the third of the 2008 intake to make it after Joyce and Parata. She is joined by Craig Foss and Nathan Guy who were Ministers outside Cabinet.

Three new Ministers outside Cabinet are Chris Tremain, Jo Goodhew and Chester Borrows. They are all from the class of 2005, and I suspect that is a signal from the PM that all future Ministers will now come from the 2008 and 2011 intakes.

The cabinet rankings are more symbolic than a reflection of actual power. For example last term Joyce and McCully were on the second row, but both are very influential. However the symbolism is important to a degree.

Parata moves up 13 places which is a huge vote of confidence in her, and Joyce moves up 10. Paula Bennett also moves up seven spots and Jonathan Coleman up four.

A significant reshuffle in terms of portfolios. Brownlee is freed up to keep working on Christchurch, but gets Transport.

Joyce’s role with Economic Development and Science and Innovation will be at the heart of National’s second term agenda.

Collins gets Justice, so expect to see further reforms.

Tony Ryall gets to be the Minister who sells off minority stakes in SOEs as he did such a good job of it last time. He keeps Health of course.

The move of Parata to Education is inspired – Hekia will champion measures to improve the lot of the 20% who are failing – many of whom are Maori.

Tolley gets Police and Corrections. Her experiences with the NZEI and NZPF will stand her in good stead for these portfolios!

Coleman gets Defence, which is handy as he has Devonport Naval Base in his electorate.

Amy Adams gets Comms/ICT, which will fit in quite well with having Internal Affairs also.

Tremain and Goodhew become Ministers as expected, and they are joined by Chester Borrows who should make a good Courts Minister as a former cop and former lawyer – knows both sides!

Worth noting that 10 portfolios have been disestablished or incorporated into other portfolios.

Ministerial portfolio titles

November 15th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A reader e-mailed in asking why are some Ministerial portfolios “of” and some “for”, as in the Minister of Health and the Minister for Economic Development.

Now the short answer is the Prime Minister can call his or her Ministers whatever they like, subject to statutory references. Of course even then, you can change the law such as when we had a Treasurer as well as Minister of Finance.

But I figured there are probably some guidelines for the PM, and that if anyone knew the Cabinet Office would so I asked them and they were kind enough to reply:

You have asked why some ministerial titles use “of” and some use “for” – such as “Minister of Health” and “Minister for Economic Development”.

As you suggest in your email to Rebecca, the current set of portfolio titles is a combination of tradition and the preferences of Prime Ministers at the time the portfolios were created.  Many of the older titles use the “of” style (e.g., Health, Education, Finance, Defence), while a number of newer titles use the “for” style (e.g., Infrastructure, Regulatory Reform, Ethnic Affairs, Climate Change Issues).  Paragraph 2.8 of the Cabinet Manual  states “The Prime Minister determines the title and scope of each portfolio.”

So primarily PM preference, but also a factor of time. As far as I can tell, under Muldoon all portfolios were “of”.

There are a few other factors that guide the use of “of” and “for”:

– it is very much the case that when new appointments are made to established portfolios, the portfolio titles remain the same – whether “of” or “for” – especially if the title is used in legislation;

– “of” is often used where the portfolio relates directly to a ministry or department (e.g., Minister of Health, Minister of Justice, Minister of Corrections);

–  “for” is often used where the portfolio description is more “generic”; that is, where the Minister is responsible for a particular topic or area (e.g., Minister for Infrastructure, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister for Regulatory Reform);

– there are occasions when, for reasons of sense or style, it makes sense to use “of” or “for”.

What interested me was which exceptions there are to this. Key is the Minister of Tourism and you could argue that is a more generic description. However it is an old title, probably dating back to when we had a Tourism Department.

Gerry is Minister for Economic Development and that is the name of the Ministry.

Police is titled Minister of Police, but I recall people would joke that John Banks was better described as the Minister for the Police, as he was such a champion of them.

David Carter is Minister of Forestry and Minister for Biosecurity. But that is probably explained by Forestry being an older title.

Anyway I hope this answers the question, for the inquiring reader. Thanks again to Cabinet Office for the info.

Ministerial blog poll results November 2010

November 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Okay over 600 votes in a couple of days. So let’s look at the results. Not remember these are not scientific results, but they do give some idea of the sentiments of Kiwiblog readers over time.

First we have the net approval ratings. This is the % who give an above average rating less the % who give a below average rating. The results are, with previous results, below.

Net Approval Nov-10 Aug-09 May-09 Mar-09
Key 65% 43% 57% 67%
English 40% 31% 44% 54%
Brownlee 27% 12% 6% 2%
Power 23% 31% 41% 54%
Ryall 60% 43% 47% 43%
Smith -23% -15% -8% 27%
Collins 53% 51% 37% 46%
Tolley 13% 3% 13% 21%
Finlayson 36% 47% 52% 53%

So in terms of net approval eight out of nine Ministers have a positive rating. The exception is Nick Smith, and in my opinion that is probably more a reflection of sentiment on the ETS.

Six Ministers have improved their ratings since last August, and three have dipped. Those three are Power, Smith and Finlayson. There is perhaps a common theme of some discontent with certain policies coming through.

The nine Ministers in order of net approval are Key, Ryall, Collins, English, Finlayson, Brownlee, Power, Tolley and Smith. Note these are the blog poll ratings – not my personal views.

The PM has had a big lift in approval from last year – perhaps a combination of the Earthquake and the Hobbit movies. he has reclaimed the top spot.

English seems to have recovered from the housing issues of 2009 also, and has a solid +40% ratings

Gerry Brownlee would probably get the prize for most improved – from a +2% in Mar 2009 to +27% today.

Simon Power has gone the other way – he was 2nd highest in March 2009 and is in 7th place now. Perhaps the talk of regulating the Internet has not helped.

Ryall and Collins basically continue to have excellent ratings – Ryall especially has had a big jump up.

Nick Smith remains at No 9. Again, I think this is partly because of his portfolios.

Anne Tolley gains 10% from last year and seems to be gaining some fans for her refusal to be cowed by the unions.

Chris Finlayson retains a solid rating but has dropped a fair bit – no doubt linked to the Foreshore & Seabed issues.

Now let’s look at what I call the weighted average. This is where you assign a weight of 100% for very good, 75% for good, 50% for average, 25% for poor and 0% for very poor. This calculation captures the intensity of approval and disapproval, and anything over 50% signifies an above average rating.

Weighted Average Nov-10 Aug-09 May-09 Mar-09
Key 79% 68% 76% 80%
English 63% 60% 66% 70%
Brownlee 57% 53% 50% 49%
Power 58% 61% 66% 71%
Ryall 76% 67% 70% 66%
Smith 39% 43% 44% 58%
Collins 73% 73% 66% 70%
Tolley 53% 49% 53% 57%
Finlayson 64% 68% 71% 71%

Three Ministers are in the 70s – Key, Ryall and Collins. In the 60s we have Finlayson and English. The 59s have Power, Brownlee and Tolley and Nick Smith at under 50%.

So overall sentiment about most Ministers is up from 14 months ago – close to the what it was in the first half of 2009.

I’ll try and remember to do another of these in the 1st half of 2011.

Ministers in 2009

May 3rd, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

In April I blogged ratings for Labour MPs, initially here and a follow-up here.

I’ve now done the same for the Ministers.

Now again these are not ratings of who are the most effective Ministers or the best Ministers. It is just a table measuring their number of press releases, the number of stories mentioning them and how many written parliamentary questions they had last year.

The overall rank is based how many releases/stories/questions they had in comparison to the median, with a weighting of 1/2 for stories, 1/3 for releases and 1/6 for questions.

Simon Power had the most number of releases at 156, followed by John Key on 143 and Tony Ryall on 111.Pansy Wong and Maurice Williamson had the least at 22. Of course what portfolios you have is a major factor.

John Key has a massive 2,755 stories mentioning him, followed by Bill English at 755 and Nick Smith at 443. The median was 176. Least mentioned was Pansy Wong, Nathan Guy (who was only a Minister for half the year) and Georgina te Heuheu.

For written questions, the Opposition decides who to ask them to, but it does indicate how targeted a Minister may be. Top was Paula Bennett who had 4,650 (over 100 a week), followed by Anne Tolley on 3098 and Judith Collins on 1615. The median was 469. Least questioned was Nathan Guy on 214, Heather Roy on 226 and Pita Sharples on 243.

I could have added in oral questions also, but for now wanted to use the same criteria as used for Labour.

Dom Post rates the Ministers

October 24th, 2009 at 2:37 pm by David Farrar

The Dominion Post has done a feature of several pages to evaluate the first year of the Key Government. Part of that is a ranking of the National Ministers. They have not ranked John Key (there’s a sort of automatic assumption that he would be top ranking) but have ranked Lockwood Smith, even though he is Speaker, not a Minister. The ratings are:

  • 10/10 – Lockwood Smith
  • 9.5/10 – Simon Power
  • 9.0/10 – Steven Joyce
  • 8.5/10 – Tony Ryall
  • 8.0/10 – Judith Collins
  • 7.5/10 – Chris Finlayson
  • 7.0/10 – Bill English and Paula Bennett
  • 6.5/10 – Nick Smith
  • 6.0/10 – Gerry Brownlee, Murray McCully and Tim Groser
  • 5.0/10 – Phil Heatley, Anne Tolley, Wayne Mapp, Nathan Guy
  • 4.0/10 – Jonathan Coleman, Maurice Williamson and Georgina te Heuheu
  • 3.0/10 – Kate Wilkinson, David Carter and John Carter
  • 2.0/10 – Pansy Wong

The Dom Post refers to the top six rated as “the stars”, and I agree they have all handled their areas very well, even though of course I may disagree with some of the policy decisions. If it were not for the housing issue, I think Bill would have been there also.

These are of course the ratings of the Dominion Post gallery team.Not sure if the Herald will do their own ratings. In December I expect we will get the annual Trans-Tasman ratings of not just Ministers, but all 122 MPs.