16 Dec 2016

Ministers get set for weekend Cabinet reshuffle

6:09 am on 16 December 2016

Government ministers will find out their fate over the weekend, as the Prime Minister Bill English finalises the details of his Cabinet reshuffle.

Finance Minister Bill English delivers his Budget 2016 speech to Parliament.

Photo: RNZ/Elliott Childs

Mr English will reveal his new ministerial line-up on Sunday.

Two ministers have already bowed ahead of Sunday's announcement.

Craig Foss and Sam Lotu-Iiga will both step down as ministers after the reshuffle, and would not seek re-election next year.

Murray McCully also announced he would not stand in next year's election, but unlike the other two ministers, was leaving it up to the Mr English as to whether he would remain as Foreign Minister in the reshuffle.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has also signalled her departure next year and Mr English would have to decide whether to replace her in that portfolio now, or after the election.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has said she would like to stay on in the role to usher through significant changes already underway, including the establishment of the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

Bill English said promoting some ministers, but showing others the door, was part of the job and he had asked ministers to be upfront about their future intentions.

"I had said to ministers in the current Cabinet [that] they had to let me know as soon as possible if they had decided they didn't want to continue."

Health Minister and unsuccessful leadership contender Jonathan Coleman has signalled an interest in the foreign affairs portfolio.

His colleague Michael Woodhouse, who held the immigration and workplace relations portfolio, said health would hold some interest for him.

"I have a background in it, so obviously I think Jonathan Coleman's doing an excellent job and if it's the prime minister's view that he should be continuing that should be fine.

"But otherwise it's possible that's one I express an interest in."

The other unsuccessful leadership contender, Judith Collins, said whether or not she kept the police and corrections portfolios was up to the Prime Minister.

"I've always been delighted with any portfolios I've been given over the years and always like to get right into them ... but I'd obviously also love others."

Backbenchers made it clear during the leadership contest they wanted some new faces in the executive.

MPs Mark Mitchell and Alfred Ngaro were the most likely to be promoted.

Transport and Energy Minister Simon Bridges conceded defeat to Paula Bennett in the contest for deputy but was among ministers expected to be given a more senior position in Cabinet.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the reshuffle would not make any difference to the government.

"In the end we've got a prime minister who was finance minister at the heart of every decision this government has ever made, so people may come and go but the ship of state is pretty much the same as it was eight years ago."

Mr Little was also likely to announce a minor reshuffle later this morning.

It would not affect any of the big portfolios like finance, health or education, but was needed after the election of Michael Wood as the MP for Mt Roskill, and the departure of the foreign affairs spokesperson, David Shearer.

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