Key gives business portfolios to safe hands
National Party leader John Key has announced his ministerial appointments, with salient features being the strong position of deputy Bill English, the appointment of fresh talent from the 2005 and 2008 intakes – and the surprise demotion of Maurice Williamson to minister outside cabinet.
Deputy leader Bill English will be a powerful figure in the new government – confirmed as finance minister and also receiving the central “floating” role of infrastructure minister, which will coordinate a number of other strategic portfolios. NBR reported on Friday that business had wanted Mr English to take the job.
Key positions important to business include the promotion of newcomer (and National campaign manager) Steven Joyce to transport minister (and number 14 in cabinet). Mr Joyce has been earmarked as a possible future leader. Mr Joyce also gets transport and information technology.
Nick Smith retains responsibility for the environment, and reforming the RMA, and also climate change (and ACC). Last week, a panel of business leaders talked to by NBR expressed some disquiet about Dr Smith retaining responsibility for climate change.
Trade minister Tim Groser, a highly regarded former negotiator at the WTO, also gets associate climate change responsibility, a move that will be welcomed by business because of climate change’s international tie-ups – the emissions trading scheme has been promoted as essential for shoring up trade opportunities in picky markets.
Dr Smith’s fellow “brat packer” Maurice Williamson has been dumped from the front bench and is a minister outside cabinet for building and construction, small business and statistics.
Among other movers and shakers, Chris Finlayson is the new attoney-general (with responsibility for the Serious Fraud Office, which National has promised to retain), minister for treaty negotiations and for arts, culture and heritage. Highly touted 2005 MP Jonathan Coleman is given responsibility for broadcasting and immigration. Waitakere MP (and list MP in 2005) Paula Bennett gets the high prestige social development portfolio.
Number three in cabinet Gerry Brownlee is leader of the house and minister for energy and economic development.
Richard Worth is a minister outside cabinet for internal affairs, and so will not be speaker. This suggests that job is headed for Lockwood Smith, National’s longest-serving MP.