Thank you to my various spies and readers for their contributions.
1) Labour Xmas Party
We hear this was a roaring success with the star of the show being the Santa Claus who had a huge sack of presents and loudly proclaimed that it was a long time since she had her hands on a nice sac (sic) of goodies. She also made all the good looking boys sit on her lap and tell Santa what they wanted for Xmas. Santa was of course Georgine Beyer.
I am also informed Moana Mackey performed admirably as the grumpy fairy!
2) Resuhuffle, what reshuffle?
A few days ago a well known Wellington Labour Cabinet Minister had her Departmental Xmas Party. At said party the Department CEO told the Minister how much they enjoyed working with her, and that they hoped it would continue even after the reshuffle to be announced this weekend. The Minister exclaimed “There’s going to be a reshuffle this weekend?” in a scene worthy of Yes Minister.
3) Forgotten the Numbers
Late last night the Police were called out to Michael Cullen’s ministerial home (whose address I can not give out in case Al Queda or the Wild Greens plan terrorist action) as his alarm went off. However when they got there it was to find the Minister was the intruder, and he had merely forgotten the numbers for the alarm. Oh dear – I thought he was meant to be good with numbers.
There are two vacancies in Cabinet. Margaret Wilson’s seat (assuming they are certain she will be elected Speaker) and John Tamihere’s (assuming they do not leave it open until after the SFO report).
Of the six Ministers outside Cabinet the two who appear to have done the most to justify promotion are Damien O’Connor and David Cunliffe. One of my sources burst into hysterical laughter at my suggestion that Judith Tizard could be promoted. But it is never that simple in Labour as merely promoting people because they are competent. Both Damien and David are seen as being on the “right” of Labour and putting both in could upset the factional balance. However Cunliffe is only seen as leaning to the right, and is not an actual member of the “right faction” which is lovingly referred to by their Cabinet colleagues as the “back stabbing faction”.
If two Ministers outside Cabinet are promoted, then Helen is not actually going to cope with less than 28 members of the Executiv (a NZ record high) so likely promotions to Ministers outside Cabinet are Tim Barnett and Steve Chadwick. Again it is not as simple as ability, and in this case it gets clouded by the fact the Maori quota is a bit thin having lost Turia and Tamihere. So one could see either of the two under-secretaries Mita Ririnui or Mahara Okeroa made Ministers, or as a dark horse Nanaia Mahuta rewarded for backing the Foreshore Bill in the end.
We may be about to break several hundred years of tradition and have an Attorney-General who is not a lawyer. With Margaret Wilson’s demotion to Speaker there are only two Labour MPs who are lawyers, and not in their first term as an MP (as Russell Fairbrother and David Parker are).
Appointing Lianne Dlaziel as Attorney-General where she was sacked from Cabinet for (getting caught) lying would be a very brave move. The only thing more likely to offend would be appointing John Tamihere who is still under investigation from the SFO.
So it looks like a non lawyer. Now when yours truly last worked in Government the then PM appointed Tony Ryall, a non lawyer, as Minister of Justice and I had been tasked with finding out if this had ever been done before (it had some decades ago, so the appointment proceded as it was not breaking precedent). But Attorney-General is different, a post descended from the English Attorney-General which ahs been held by lawyers for over 750 years and is the chief law officer of the Crown with supervisory powers over the prosecution of criminal offences. Do you really want Trevor Mallard appointing Judges and deciding who gets prosecuted?
A very dark horse solution would be to appoint Progressive MP Matt Robson, but I wouldn’t hold his breath if I were Matt.