Will Don be Finance Minister?

Claire Trevett and Audrey Young report:

wants to be finance minister, and claims the Party could gain 15 per cent of the vote in this year’s election under his leadership.

“I’d love to be finance minister,” he said last night.

“When I went into Parliament in 2002, that is what I was hoping to be. I wasn’t planning to be National leader. I was planning to be finance minister in a Bill English-led National government.”

Finance Minister is unlike any other portfolio, as it is so central to the Government, and affects every other portfolio. I would think a party would have to poll at least 15% to be able to make a serious bid for that role.

If ACT make it back into Parliament, the role I’d love to see Don Brash take is education, and have him introduce performance pay for teachers, bulk funding for all schools, abolish school zoning and introduce full parental choice of schools. I think such reforms are vital to improving our country’s future prospects.

He indicated he would ask Mr Key to give Mr Hide’s portfolios to another MP, citing as a precedent Mr Hide’s decision to strip Heather Roy of her portfolios because of her coup attempt.

I can’t imagine he is going to ask Hilary Calvert to become a Minister, so this looks like he is seeking Heather Roy to be reinstated as a Minister.

Last night, Mr Key distanced himself from the “extreme” views of Act and said Dr Brash had “virtually no chance” of becoming finance minister or deputy prime minister after the next election.

The Prime Minister said Act was “not likely to be a party of such size that would be commensurate with those portfolios”.

He said Act had always had extreme policies compared with National’s moderate approach and “my view is that nothing has changed here”.

I doubt anyone can point to an economic issue on which Rodney and Don disagree. So the PM is right that ACT’s policies and views are not changing. What has changed is that ACT may now be able to attract greater support.

Don has said he thinks he can attract 15%. John Ansell has gone even further and claims ACT can get 40% and Don will become PM. Either way, this suggests that ACT will not be expecting National to “take it easy” in Epsom. If they poll over 5% they don’t need Epsom (even though it is always useful to have it as backstop). So my guess is that National will campaign actively for both votes in Epsom.

So the first target for ACT led by Don is to make 5% – otherwise they may not be there at all.  But if they get just 5% or 6 MPs, then they will represent 10% of the Government, so their influence would be roughly 10%.

If however Don can lift ACT to 10% then they have 12 MPs, and would roughly be 20% of the Government. So they would have significantly more influence.

Again, the next couple of sets of public polls will be interesting.

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