Bishop is given a chance to make an impact in National’s reshuffle

Look deeper than the  headline   moves in  National’s  reshuffle  to  find  the  longer-term  significance.  Those moves included Paul  Goldsmith winning the   prize  of  being   Opposition   Finance   spokesman  and  Gerry Brownlee in taking  on  Foreign  Affairs, not  just  because  he has the capacity  to deploy a  bit of  humour  in  needling  Foreign  Affairs  Minister  Winston Peters,  but  because  he is  signalling  he  is   up  for  another  term.

Insiders   point to  the  leap   through the  ranks   of Hutt South MP Chris Bishop  from  the cross benches.  Still only  36,   but   in his  second term,  Bishop  has converted the   once  traditional  Labour  stronghold  of  Hutt  South   into a National  seat.

In Parliament  as  Opposition  spokesman  on  Police  he has  been effective  in  puncturing  the  government’s   promises on  building up  police numbers by  1800.      Generally  he  has  kept   Police  Minister  Stuart   Nash  on his toes  and kept police   issues  close to   top of the political  agenda—something  that   some of  his seniors have  been able to do in their  areas of  responsibility.

Labelled a  former  Bridges opponent (because  he did not  back Simon in the leadership ballot), he has received a big promotion, moving into the shadow cabinet and picking up the transport and regional development portfolios.

He  now  has   Phillip  Twyford  in  his  sights,  with the   advantage – as  a local advocate – of having been pushing  hard   for  key roading  projects  such as the  Melling  interchange.  The current  government, against the evidence of  its vital importance to   the  Hutt Valley  region,  has pushed this out to  2028.

Bishop  also  picks  up  Regional  Development  where  he has  plenty of  scope  to  show  his  political ability as he takes on  NZ  First’s  flamboyant  Shane  Jones.

Point of Order  sees  Bishop  as  clearly a  “comer” in  the  National  Party,  and after doing the hard  yards  on the backbenches,   he can  now  make  a real impact.

Nicola   Willis,   who  came into  Parliament   after   Steven Joyce  pulled the plug  in  2018,    has  been  spokesperson on early childhood  education and  is  now   given  Youth  as  an additional  area of  responsibility.

National  sees  itself  as  vulnerable   particularly  to  the  Green  Party   among   younger voters   and  Nicola    gets a   chance  to  shape   policy  in  what will be a  key  sector  in the  2020  election.  Although  she  is relatively  new   in Parliament    she   served   as a  backroom   adviser  in  National  over  several  terms   and at  38  she,  like Bishop, has the capacity to  generate  new ideas  (which   National  badly needs).

Other  interesting    changes  to  National’s  line-up   include  Todd Muller  taking  on   Forestry    in addition to  Climate Change,  and  Tim Macindoe   becoming  the   Shadow  Attorney-general.


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