If Whaitiri is sacked, then the PM has two vacancies – one Minister inside Cabinet and one outside Cabinet.
Filling these could be challenging due to Labour’s fixation on demographics. There are basically few female options for them to promote.
Assuming they don’t decide to shrink the size of the ministry (which would be a good thing), here’s what I would do.
The vacancy inside Cabinet should go to an existing Minister outside Cabinet. This means Faafoi, Henare, Jackson or Sio. None are women but all are Maori or PI. I’d say the obvious candidate would be Kris Faafoi. He is popular and moderate and seen to be doing a solid job in his portfolios.
The vacancy outside Cabinet should go to Michael Wood, a current Under-Secretary. Wood has good political smarts, and is clearly capable. If though, they can’t have it go to a man, let’s look at what women they have outside the ministry who are not first termers:
- Louisa Wall. Showed good political smarts in steering the marriage equality bill through Parliament. But seems to be offside with the leadership as she is the only experienced female MP without a senior role.
- Poto Williams. Currently Assistant Speaker. If you move her, you then need a new Assistant Speaker
- Ruth Dyson. Currently Senior Whip. Clearly capable of being a Minister but needed where she is, and probably seem as to much from the past.
So that brings you to the first term female MPs. It would be tough to become a Minister after one year in Parliament but I’d say Deborah Russell would be capable of doing a good job. You could either make her Minister of Revenue and Women’s Affairs outside Cabinet or if you promote Wood, make her an Under-Secretary to replace him.