The five ministers who should be sacked
"If National doesn't get its act together now they are history next year."Featured comment
The major polls are disastrous.
John Key once had favourability ratings above 80%. Today, according to some polls, his prime ministerial ratings are lower than Helen Clark’s, even on the eve of her defeat.
Regardless of the polls, it was always unlikely Mr Key would win a third term. His second was won by fewer than 10,000 votes against Phil Goff.
He enjoyed a cruisey 21 months against David Shearer.
Now he faces an opponent who can string a few words together and a Labour Party unified by the scent of success.
For Mr Key to win, he needs a government that looks fresh, energised and makes no mistakes.
That’s the context for his cabinet reshuffle, expected early next year.
These are the notes he might write for himself before he meets his ministers.
Bill English: Finance: Indispensable
Amazing. Started out as a wet. Now overwhelmingly supported by the business community and financial markets. Economic data, including business confidence, is the best for more than a decade. Remind him that friendly, positive Bill must keep grumpy, angry Bill in check.
Gerry Brownlee: Transport/CHC: Indispensable
Done well sorting out transport after ministerial interference got too hot. Christchurch ok but I need more ribbons to cut. Re personality: see Bill above. Maybe time to drop a rank or two.
Steven Joyce: Economic Development: Indispensable
Absolutely essential for campaign strategy and daily media management. Keep away from serious policy. MBIE a fiasco. Ditto international education strategy. Broadband not looking flash. And don’t need any more Sky City or Rio Tinto deals.
Judith Collins: Justice: Indispensable
Keep party base happy. Keep out of mainstream media. Already won on law and order now Simon Power has gone.
Tony Ryall: Health/SOEs: Time up?
Brilliant job keeping health out of news. Ok on asset sales. Clock is ticking though. You’ve been around since 1990.
Hekia Parata: Education: Rome?
Bill keen that you stay. I like you too. But, honestly – how would you feel about being Ambassador to Rome?
Chris Finlayson: Waitangi: Superb
When I’m old, I’ll be proud of what we’ve achieved. Keep iwi happy for another 14 months. But also keep Treaty settlements out of the news.
Paula Bennett: Welfare: Go for it!
You’re turning welfare into a positive for National because you really want bennies to thrive. Challenge: show we care more than Labour, because we do. Then you might get my job.
Jonathan Coleman: Defence: Adequate
Potential unfulfilled. But you backed me when I needed you. So you get to stay where you are.
Murray McCully: Foreign Affairs: IRB?
Thanks for political advice but Steven now in charge. Let’s win Security Council seat and then you need to move on. Plus I need foreign affairs for Winston. How about president of the IRB?
Anne Tolley: Police/Corrections: Survived
Caring, sharing rehabilitation crowd say you’re doing a brilliant job. Police like you. Looks like we got your job right second time round. And, in retrospect, well done on national standards.
Nick Smith, Conservation: Time up
FFS. I don’t think even Bill will back you this time. Thought about a new career?
Tim Groser, Climate Change/Trade: Steady hands
Never imagined you’d end up a better climate-change minister than trade. Former is superbly under control. But where’s my big signing ceremony for a landmark FTA? Just one, and I’ll keep you on another three years.
Amy Adams, Environment/ICT: Lucky
You had two jobs – RMA reform and UFB. Both a fiasco. If I didn’t need more women in cabinet, you’d be toast.
Nathan Guy: Primary Industries: Sacked
Sorry pal, but I’m tourism minister. I can’t have the farmers and fishers thinking I don’t care about them by keeping you where you are.
Craig Foss: Commerce: Sacked
When I said someone from Hawkes Bay needed to retire, I didn’t mean Chris.
Chris Tremain: Local Government: Retired
Families are everything and you’ve made the right decision. Chill on the backbench for the rest of the term.
Simon Bridges: Mining/Labour: Ready for front bench
Well done mate. Better than I expected. Mining industry loves you. Helen Kelly hates you. But not a ripple in the polls. You still have that voucher I gave you to sort out those vowel sounds? Use it and you get on the front bench.
Nikki Kaye: Food Safety: Ready for front bench?
Sorry I made you report to poor old Nathan. Should have known anyone who won Auckland Central for National was a star. I want you up front. But any more nonsense about banning biotechnology, and I’ll start listening to what your peers say about you.
Me: Prime Minister: Must keep cool
Do and say whatever it takes. Re personality: see Bill and Gerry above. Must be smiling, wavey, jokey John. Don’t be grumpy, angry, frowning John.
So, five immediate vacancies. Step up Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Paul Goldsmith, Todd McClay, Louise Upston and Maggie Barry. And we need some decent newbies next November.