Cabinet reshuffle is promised but the PM is limited in which cards to play

Prime Minister   Jacinda  Ardern is  promising  a  Cabinet  reshuffle  later this  month.

Not  before  time,    given the   piles of   deadwood    revealed   so far in the  ministry’s make-up.

Or,  more significantly,  in the failure to  deliver  “transformation”, as   with  KiwiBuild.

With  the  high  poll ratings  of the government, largely as a  result  of her  own  performance,  Ardern in  theory  should  be  able to deliver, without any  political  qualms,  rejection  slips to  those  who  are  a  drag  on the  coalition

Yet  she  is  severely  constrained in  any changes   she contemplates.

As  Point of Order   sees  it,  speculation she  would   be looking  at  shifting Phil Twyford  or  Iain  Lees-Galloway  for  their  embarrassing  performances  will be found  to  be wide of the  mark.

Twyford    is   a  front-bencher  and  to  demote  him for  the  abysmal performance  on  KiwiBuild would be   an admission that those who chose  him   misjduged his capacity.

In any case  the  KiwiBuild policy was  framed  not by  Twyford  himself   but  by  Labour’s  key figures in   Opposition including  Ardern, Grant Robertson,  and  Andrew Little.

Similarly  Lee-Galloway  couldn’t be  given the  chop,  even   if he  gets  the sideways  look  whenever  he speaks  in  Cabinet  or  in  the House.

So  the  scope   for  Ardern  through  a reshuffle  to  find   space  for   newcomers who   might  re-energise  the  bureaucracies supporting dud ministers is  limited.

Labour  does  have  some  capability  on the backbenches — MPs  like  Greg  O’Connor, Deborah Russell   or  Duncan  Webb, who  are champing at the bit   and could  lift   the overall  Cabinet performance.

But  again, raw  political talent  isn’t the only factor Ardern  must take into  account.  Higher priorities   are  preserving the right gender  balance,  and  acknowledging the ambitions  within  her party’s Maori  caucus.

So  far  the speculation   of  how  Ardern  might  go  about  a  Cabinet reshuffle   has been largely  limited to the  probability   Kris  Faafoi  will be  promoted to  Cabinet.

He  started  off  as a minister outside Cabinet with responsibility for the crucial-to-business commerce portfolio. Then he   picked  up the telecommunications and broadcasting portfolios when the previous minister, Claire Curran, early in  the term of the government resigned over her dealings with RNZ senior executive Carol Hirschfeld. He also inherited customs from Meka Whaitiri when she resigned over an alleged staff bullying incident.

Faafoi, a Porirua-based former journalist, has impressed the sectors he’s been operating in while some other ministers inside Cabinet have been seen to struggle.   But  Faafoi  is  no   policy  wonk  and is  unlikely  to  do   much  to  lift  Cabinet’s  intellectual  capacity.

There’s  pressure  on  Ardern to   reinstate  Meka   Whaitiri,  but  even   at her  most  compassionate  the PM  would be  unwise  to  appear  to be condoning  a  ministerial  assault on a  staffer.

More  probably the promotion  of Parliamentary  Under-Secretary Michael   Wood   to be  at  least  a  minister  outside  Cabinet  is  under consideration.

Ardern  is  to announce the changes after Parliament rises on June 27 after three weeks’ sitting.

She declined to be drawn on where those changes might occur, or to discuss the prospects for NZ First and Green Party ministers and whether their possible replacement required negotiation.

The  big  question mark, as  far  ministers  from  Labour’s coalition partners are  concerned,  hangs  over  Eugenie  Sage  with her  Land Information  portfolio.  Her  decision   against  Oceana Gold’s  proposal  to use a  new block of  land for  tailings from its  big Waihi mine stunned  miners—and some of  her Labour colleagues  (who  are very conscious  of the  Australian  Federal  election  where miners   particularly  in  Queensland  electorates  turned  against  Labour).

 

2 thoughts on “Cabinet reshuffle is promised but the PM is limited in which cards to play

  1. Twyford and Lee-Galloway should be demoted to the back bench as both have performed dismally. Kiwibuild is a fiasco and the Sourbrek affair is laughable. If these men hold their positions it will be laughable.

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  2. Isn’t Twyford in the kitchen cabinet? He won’t be demoted anytime soon. The lack of ruthlessness will hobble Ardern sooner rather than later. The current case in point is the Budget search bar shambles – Makloof’s feet shouldn’t have touched the ground on departure for misleading Ministers and the people and Robertson should have followed as the Minister What’s in Charge.

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