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Amy Adams and Simon Bridges were the big winners in the cabinet reshuffle announced by Bill English this afternoon.
The duo have joined the PM's "kitchen cabinet" or inner circle.
Murray McCully (Foreign Affairs) and Hekia Parata (Education) are being sent to the backbenches — but not until May. Both had earlier announced they would leave Parliament at next year's election. After May, Nikki Kaye is tipped to return from her breast cancer treatment and pick up Education. A decision on who takes over as Foreign Minister won't be made until May.
As previously flagged, Craig Foss, Jo Goodhew are leaving cabinet.
Smith hangs in
There had been some speculation that Nick Smith would voluntarily step down to allow for more renewal. In the final event, he has stayed in cabinet, although he now shares the key housing portfolio with Ms Adams — who takes on the Social Housing role while Dr Smith is Minister for Building and Construction (meaning there is no Housing Minister per se).
And Dr Smith does dip in the pecking order from 12th to 15th.
The kitchen cabinet
As previously indicated Bill English has taken no portfolio beyond national security (traditionally handled by the PM).
Paula Bennett, ranked second as deputy prime minister, will hold the State Services, Tourism, Police, Women's Affairs and Climate Change portfolios.
Steven Joyce (third) is Minister of Finance and Infrastructure.
Gerry Brownlee (fourth) officially takes over Ms Kaye's Civil Defence portfolio, adding it to his disaster-related posts.
Mr Bridges (who moves from eighth to fifth) keeps transport and adds the heavyweight Economic Development and Associate Finance portfolios, plus Communications (the converged ministry that includes the old Broadcasting and ICT portfolios).
Ms Adams (up one to sixth) keeps Justice and adds Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance.
Fate of the leadership challengers
Pretenders to the National Party leadership following John Key's surprise resignation earlier this month, Jonathan Coleman and Judith Collins, have done relatively poorly.
Mr Coleman slips from sixth to seventh ranking and has no portfolio change, is kept in the health and sports and recreation portfolios, despite making a play for Foreign Affairs.
Ms Collins loses Corrections and Police, falls to 16th from 14th and picks up the Revenue, Energy and Ethnic Communities portfolios, the last of which she has held previously.
Big move for Woodhouse
Michael Woodhouse, who kept immigration and workplace relations and safety and gained responsibility for ACC, moved from 17th to ninth position in a clear indication that he may be headed for bigger things after the May transition.
Also on the up are Alfred Ngaro, one of National's few Pasifika MPs, who vaults straight into cabinet in 21st place, taking the Pacific Peoples and community and voluntary sector portfolios, while three backbenchers — Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean, and David Bennett - become Ministers outside Cabinet.
Mr Mitchell becomes Minister of Land Information, with responsibility for the Overseas Investment Office among other responsibilities, and will be Minister of Statistics; Dean replaces Paul Goldsmith as Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and David Bennett takes on veterans affairs' and food safety.
Their elevations open up opportunities for aspiring backbenchers, including Chris Bishop, who is likely to replace Bennett as chair of Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee; and Todd Muller, who could replace Mark Mitchell chairing the foreign affairs, defence and trade committee, although that would require overleaping the current deputy chair.
Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston move from being ministers outside cabinet to ministers inside cabinet.
Unchanged are Todd McClay, as Minister of Trade and state-owned enterprises, Maggie Barry in the Arts, Conservation and Seniors portfolios, Chris Finlayson as Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations minister, Nathan Guy in the primary industries portfolio, and Nicky Wagner as Minister of Customers and Disability Issues, outside Cabinet.
See the full cabinet list here.
With reporting by BusinessDesk.
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