Opposition parties have denounced suggestions that National Party MP Nick Smith will be reinstated as a minister in a Cabinet reshuffle expected on Tuesday.
Prime Minister John Key has given his strongest signal yet that Dr Smith will get his old job back.
Nick Smith resigned his portfolios early in 2012 after acknowledging that he had written a statement in support of ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar while ACC Minister.
But Mr Key appears to believe that he has served his time on the back benches, saying it would be no surprise if he was included in the reshuffle.
Speaking on Sunday during a visit to Antarctica, he said it had made sense for Dr Smith to have some time out after "a little bit of a hiccup", but that he had been a very successful minister in the past.
"I've always said I'm not ruling him out being a minister, and if I made that announcement on Tuesday I don't think he'd be terribly surprised."
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said on Monday there should be no place for Dr Smith in the Cabinet after he acted unethically.
"I don't think New Zealand can have confidence in a minister who has been so unethical in his behaviour and misused his ministerial powers as Nick did."
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said Dr Smith has made too many mistakes to deserve a recall.
Mr Peters said Dr Smith should not be reinstated given that he still faces a number of questions, including not disclosing a trust set up to deal with a defamation case.
Mr Peters said if Nick Smith is brought back as a minister, it shows that the Prime Minister says one thing and does another when it comes to the conduct of his ministers.
Dr Smith is not commenting, other than to say he would be honoured if a spot was made available for him.