Reshuffle expectations

January 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

My expectations are that David Carter will be nominated and elected as Speaker, and that Nick Smith will be reappointed to Cabinet. This is not based on inside knowledge but the well telegraphed signals from the Government.

Apart from some minimal portfolio shuffling, I don’t expect too much else to change. That is because your major reshuffle doesn’t tend to happen just a year after an election. There are two sort of reshuffles – forced and voluntary.

A forced reshuffle occurs when you get a vacancy due to a Minister resigning. Normally it is due to a scandal (Dyson, Dalziel, Smith, Wong) or sometimes due to a good thing (becoming Speaker). The focus of the reshuffle is to replace the Minister and tweak things a bit.

A voluntary reshuffle is when the PM wants to significantly freshen the ministry, both in personnel and portfolios. This occurs after each election to some degree, but after your first term, will normally also occur mid-term.

It is difficult to win a third (let alone a fourth) term when your lineup looks much the same as what you won your first term on. Hence, even if there are no major performance issues, it is always important to bring in fresh blood so to speak.

The logical timing of any voluntary reshuffle is around the end of the second year or start of the third year of a term. This is when seat selections start to get underway so means that if the PM indicates to a Minister they won’t be in Cabinet if re-elected, the Minister can decide whether or not to retire from the House also, and not seek re-selection. They may go onto the backbench for their final year in the House.

So as I said my expectation is this reshuffle will be quite minor, and most likely just see Nick Smith replace David Carter. But I would expect that late 2013 or maybe very early 2014, to see a more significant reshuffle – with say three or four personnel changes.

A complicating factor could be if Tim Groser does win the WTO DG job. This will be known in May, and would mean another forced reshuffle. The PM would then have to decide whether to do just about minimal one, or bring forward a more major one.

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