Tracy Watkins writes:
Jacinda Ardern tried to convince reporters ahead of her first big reshuffle last week it was only a minor rejig.
Who was she trying to kid?
Phil Twyford’s dumping from the housing portfolio was as surprising, as it is rare.
Ministers get dumped for personal transgressions. They get dumped for grave errors of judgment. But they rarely get stripped of their portfolio for incompetence.
The collective wisdom around Wellington ahead of the reshuffle was that Twyford was safe for that reason, though there was a precedence.
John Key unceremoniously sacked his former housing minister Phil Heatley – legend has it because he was unimpressed with his work on State housing. But it was also useful in highlighting Key’s ruthless streak, playing up to the legend of the smiling assassin.
With respect I disagree with Tracy that the two are the same. In fact they are very different.
Phil Heatley didn’t stuff anything up. He certainly didn’t preside over a zombie disaster such as Kiwibuild. He was just reportedly seen as not hugely effective, and that was enough to have him removed from the ministry entirely.
Phil Twyford has presided over an initiative that has failed on every possible measure, and has become a huge debacle for the Government. Not only does he remain a Minister, he keeps his No 5 ranking and gets a top portfolio in Economic Development as a reward.