17 Nov 2008

Key's Cabinet line-up

9:38 pm on 17 November 2008

Incoming Prime Minister John Key has announced his Cabinet line-up.

The National Party's deputy leader Bill English will become deputy prime minister and minister of finance and will pick up the newly created infrastructure portfolio.

Gerry Brownlee will be minister for economic development and minister of energy and resources.

Rangitikei MP Simon Power will be minister of justice, minister for state-owned enterprises and minister of commerce.

Second-term MP Paula Bennet will be minister for social development and employment. Mr Key says Ms Bennet has a big responsibility, but he has every confidence in her abilities.

Anne Tolly will be education minister and Judith Collins will be minister of police and corrections.

Murray McCully will be minister of foreign affairs, former trade negotiator Tim Groser will be minister of trade and minister of conservation, and Wayne Mapp will be minister of defence.

Tony Ryall will be minister of health.

Nick Smith will be minister for the environment, minister for climate change issues and minister for ACC.

New MP and former campaign manager Stephen Joyce will be minister of transport and minister for communications and information technology.

David Carter will be minister of agriculture, while second-term MP Christopher Finalyson will be attorney-general and minister for Treaty negotiations.

Maurice Williamson, who was in eighth place on National's front bench last term, will be a minister outside Cabinet with the building and construction, customs, statistics and small business portfolios.

Fellow long-term MPs Richard Worth and John Carter will also be ministers outside Cabinet. Dr Worth will be responsible for internal affairs and Mr Carter will be responsible for civil defence, senior citizens and racing.

National's longest-serving MP, Lockwood Smith, will be Speaker of the House.

Mr Key will take the tourism portfolio, as well as becoming minister for ministerial services, minister in charge of the Security Intelligence Service and minister responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau - portfolios held by outgoing Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Georgina te Heu Heu will be minister for courts and minister of Pacific islands affairs.

Whangarei MP Phil Heatley will be minister of fisheries and minister of housing.

Second-term MP Jonathan Coleman will be minister of immigration and and Kate Wilkinson will be minister of labour.

Mr Key says he had to make some hard choices in arriving at his selection.

Ms Tolley says she is ready to begin implementing National's education policies straightaway.

National's policies include national literacy and numeracy standards and new school reporting rules so parents can keep tabs on their children's progress.

Ms Tolley says her style is consultative and she will get out immediately to talk to people in the sector. She again ruled out bulk-funding of teachers' salaries.

Mr Joyce, who has leapt straight into a ministerial position, says he doubts there will be any resentment from the other members of National's caucus that he leap-frogged over them.

And Pacific leaders have welcomed the appointment of Georgina Te Heu Heu as minister of Pacific Island affairs.

Tonga Advisory Council chairman Melino Maka says it is good to see the position returned to Cabinet because that is where the power is.

Mr Maka says Mrs Te Heu Heu brings a deep understanding of Maori and Pacific culture to the role, along with significant experience in Parliament.

Business reaction

The business sector has expressed support for the appointments to key economic roles.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association says it is delighted that the top business issues will be handled by the most senior Cabinet postings.

The New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association says the Cabinet offers some promise, while the Property Council of New Zealand says Cabinet is brimming with ministers who understand the economic and infrastructure challenges that need to be faced to return the country to a period of sustained economic growth and rising living standards.

Goldman Sachs JB Were economist Shamubeel Eaqub says the government will need to focus on the economic crisis.

Executive line-up

The 28-strong executive will include 20 National MPs in Cabinet, three ministers outside cabinet and five positions to supporting parties.

Mr Key says there will be some newer MPs in the line-up, who have proven their ability within a relatively short period of time, and that some of his choices may be seen as "risky".

The ministers will be sworn in on Wednesday before Mr Key flies to Peru for an APEC meeting on Thursday.

In a series of governing arrangements, ACT, UnitedFuture and the Maori Party have signed agreements and committed themselves to vote with the National Party on confidence and supply issues.

In return, members of all three parties have been given ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

Mr Key says he will be running a minority government, and there will be some compromise required.

National drops plans to scrap Maori seats

Mr Key won the Maori Party's support by agreeing to relinquish its policy to abolish the Maori seats. National will also review the foreshore and seabed legislation.

Mr Key says that if a review leads to changes to the law, protection will be put in place to ensure all New Zealanders can still go to the beach.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has been appointed minister of Maori affairs, associate minister of education and associate minister of corrections.

Fellow co-leader Tariana Turia will be minister for the community and voluntary sector as well as associate minister of health, and associate minister of social development and employment.

ACT gets two portfolios

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide and list MP Heather Roy have been appointed ministers outside Cabinet.

Mr Hide will be minister of local government and regulatory reform as well as associate minister of commerce.

Ms Roy will be minister of consumer affairs, associate minister of defence and associate minister of education.

Both National and ACT say their goal is to close the income gap with Australia by 2025 and they support UnitedFuture's aim of cutting the top rate of tax to 30 cents.

As part of its deal with ACT, National will support the party's "three strikes and you're out" policy for violent offenders going to a select committee.

There will also be a review of the emissions trading scheme. Legislation enabling the scheme's introduction will be delayed in the meantime.

UnitedFuture retains revenue post

UnitedFuture leader and sole MP Peter Dunne retains his position as minister of revenue and associate minister of health.

National has agreed to adopt and implement a range of principles, policies and priorities advanced by UnitedFuture.

They include policy related to the Families Commission and the Office of the Children's Commissioner, elective surgery waiting lists and the use of private hospitals, income splitting for taxation purposes and the use of public-private partnerships in infrastructure programmes.

Spending review

The private sector will review key government spending as part of National's confidence and supply agreement with ACT.

In the agreement, taskforces chaired by private sector representatives will undertake reviews of baseline spending in identified sectors.

The proposal has been rejected by the Maori Party.

Ms Turia says no one from the private sector would be welcome to look at government spending for which she was responsible.

Record time

National has set a record for the time taken to form a government after an election under the current electoral system.

Confirmation of the new government's arrangements come just eight days after the election - the fastest time in the history of the MMP electoral system.

It took four weeks in 2005 for Labour to work out its governing arrangements, though talks were delayed for two weeks until special votes confirmed its narrow election night majority.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff has welcomed National's reaching of an agreement with the three minor parties to form the next government.

Mr Goff says the country has had nine years of stable government under Labour and it is important that stability continues in the face of the global economic crisis.