Novopay debacle costs Craig Foss

By Lawrence Gullery

The failing Novopay system has contributed to Tukituki MP Craig Foss' removal from the Education Ministry portfolio while Napier MP Chris Tremain becomes Local Government Minister and moves up two places in Cabinet.

The changes were announced by Prime Minister John Key as part of his Government's Cabinet reshuffle yesterday.

Mr Key has decided Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce will take on the responsibility of fixing the Education Ministry's new payroll system which was introduced at the end of August 2012.

The heat came on Mr Foss when, as the Associate Minister of Education, he was handed the job of seeing through the introduction of the Novopay system and it failed, underpaying 5000 staff in its first run in September.

Mr Key has appointed Auckland Central backbench MP, 32-year-old Nikki Kaye, as the new Associate Education Minister. Mr Foss remained philosophical about the changes and admitted the education portfolio was "a challenging one".

"The focus that Stephen Joyce will have on Novopay is going to be really good and it will help move things forward. There is always a lot of attention on anything to do with education and that's fair enough," Mr Foss said.

"There needs to be more resource put into it [Novopay] of course because it hasn't delivered to expectation. So it's correct, absolutely, to have a senior minister focus on it."

Mr Foss has been assigned Minister of Consumer Affairs, a portfolio which will link in with his existing responsibilities as Commerce Minister. He also remains Broadcasting Minister and Associate Minister for ACC.

Mr Tremain said he realised council reorganisation was a hot issue in Hawke's Bay but he wouldn't be involved in any debate as the new Local Government Minister.

"People know my position on that debate around amalgamation, I've been very front of centre [in support] on that one. But now as the Local Government minister I Novopay costs Foss;

Tremain moves up

Hand-picked for posts, p7have to take a step back from that debate because it is not appropriate for me to be taking a position on that now," Mr Tremain said.

"It is a local issue and I am stepping back to let it run its course."

Mr Tremain remains Internal Affairs Minister and in the key role of Associate Minister of Tourism, working with the Prime Minister.

He drops the Civil Defence portfolio in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

"It's a real privilege to be given a larger challenge than previously, however, I must say I enjoyed Civil Defence and I will be sad to leave that one."

Ms Kaye has also been given responsibility for Food Safety, Civil Defence, and Youth Affairs and will be Associate Immigration Minister.

Other promotions include making senior whip Michael Woodhouse Immigration Minister outside cabinet, returning Nick Smith to the cabinet, with Housing and Conservation, and elevating Simon Bridges from outside cabinet to cabinet with the Energy and Resources portfolio and Labour.

Cabinet ministers Jonathan Coleman and Amy Adams have been promoted in terms of cabinet rankings: Mr Coleman from 13 to 10 and Amy Adams from 19 to 15.

The big surprise in the reshuffle were the forced resignations of former Housing Minister Phil Heatley and former Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson both from the cabinet to the backbench.

As expected, Mr Key has earmarked David Carter as the new Speaker to take over from Lockwood Smith when he resigns later this month to become the High Commissioner in London.

The changes will take effect from January 31.

Nathan Guy will take over Mr Carter's Primary Industries portfolio while Michael Woodhouse takes over Mr Guy's current responsibilities as Immigration and Veterans' Affairs.

National will elect a new chief whip at it next caucus meeting on January 29.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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