Profiles of new Ministers

Audrey Young at the Herald profiles new Minister Michael Woodhouse:

He avoided scandals and soapboxes in his first term as an MP, and has spent all of his second term in the highly demanding and important job of Chief Government Whip.

But to parliamentary inmates, his promotion came as no surprise.

From the moment he arrived in 2008 with a large cohort of new arrivals he was earmarked for higher office.

Yep – few are surprised that “Woody” is a Minister. He has always been well regarded.

When the new National Government launched into its contentious ACC reforms, Mr Woodhouse made a strong impression as confident, articulate and knowledgeable advocate of the policy, much more so than more experienced MPs.

In the second term he was destined to get a select committee chairmanship or a whip’s role – both are considered stepping stones to ministerial appointment, but more so a whip. Plenty of select committee chairs don’t make ministers. But almost all senior whips do.

Whips have to manage the back bench and ensure that the Government doesn’t lose any votes.

They also have to make sure there is an objection or vote against any attempt by an Opposition MP to delay things. I recall when a previous whip failed to object to leave to debate Steven Joyce’s academic record, and the House ended up spending a couple of hours on that!

Just before entering Parliament Mr Woodhouse was chief executive officer of Mercy Hospital in Dunedin.

He was born and raised in Dunedin in a large Labour-supporting Catholic family, the fifth of nine children.

In his maiden speech he made mention of the story of the Sisters of Mercy and their founder, Irish nun Catherine McAuley, which he said “inspires and challenges me and forms the basis of my leadership ethos”.

He may be one of the first Dunedin MPs to claim he has both blue (National colours) and gold running through his veins.

He spoke of his gold-mining forebears, his great-great-grandfather James Woodhouse, who emigrated from Lancashire and in 1862 discovered gold at the junction of the Teviot and Clutha rivers near Roxburgh.

“No great wealth was passed down, however, as he purchased the Bannockburn Hotel and fathered eight children.”

I was at that hotel a few weeks ago!! A lovely place to have a drink in the sun.

Mr Woodhouse will take up the responsibilities of Immigration, Veterans Affairs and Associate Transport, the latter traditionally beingthe minister responsible for road safety.

As Immigration Minister he will be responsible for policy and not for the painstaking work of sifting through individual cases pleading for a discretionary ministerial decision.

That will be done by Ms Kaye in her new role as Associate Immigration Minister

Michael has the better side of that portfolio. A former Minister commented that most minister’s weekly papers come in boxes, while the Associate Immigration Minister usually gets a trolley!

Mr Woodhouse is the first Dunedin-based National Party minister.

About time!

The other new minister, Nikki Kaye, is profiled by Andrea Vance in Stuff:

National was looking to inject some youthful energy into its frontbench team. It chose , who is preparing to run, cycle and kayak 243 kilometres.

The rise and rise of Nikki Kaye has been well canvassed. Even the most casual of political observers could have picked her promotion to minister this week – although a fast-track straight into the Cabinet is an extra gold star.

Nikki is the youngest female minister National has had.

The next few weeks will be spent getting to grips with her new portfolios: food safety, civil defence and youth affairs. Associate immigration – where many of the operational issues are delegated – also brings a heavy workload. She also promises not to neglect her constituency. Despite months of training, a busy ministerial diary may force her to pull out of the Coast to Coast, although she’s anxious to compete. She has learnt to make time for family. “The last four years, it’s been 6 – day weeks. I don’t really expect that to slow down. In the last year I’ve got more of a personal balance. . . .

Nikki has only two speeds. Running and running faster 🙂

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