Whangarei MP Phil Heatley demoted in reshuffle

By New Zealand Herald staff

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Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye has been elevated straight into Cabinet and Nick Smith also returns in Prime Minister John Key's reshuffle - but their promotions come at a cost to Phil Heatley and Kate Wilkinson who have both been dumped.

As expected, Mr Key has appointed 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.

Mr Key also opened up two other places at the Cabinet table, by demoting Phil Heatley, currently Housing Minister, and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson from Cabinet, saying they had made a contribution but "I have made the judgement that it is time for fresh energy and ideas and for other members of our talented 59-strong caucus to be given an opportunity."

Simon Bridges, currently a Minister outside Cabinet, has been promoted to Cabinet in the third open slot - taking on the Labour and Energy and Resources portfolios.

Dr Smith will take over the Housing and Conservation portfolios and Ms Kaye will be Minister for Food Safety, Civil Defence and Youth Affairs.

Senior Whip Michael Woodhouse has also been made a minister outside Cabinet and will be Immigration and Veterans' Affairs minister.

The changes will take effect from January 31.

Ms Wilkinson resigned from her Labour portfolio in the wake of inquiries into the Pike River mine explosion.

As Mr Key earlier indicated, Hekia Parata has kept her job as Education Minister - but Mr Key has moved responsibility for the teachers' payroll Novopay system from associate education minister Craig Foss to his troubleshooter, Steven Joyce.

Dr Smith was forced to resign from cabinet in March last year after the Herald revealed he had written a testimonial in 2011 to support an ACC claim by a personal friend, Bronwyn Pullar, at the time he had been ACC minister.

Judith Collins had already been appointed ACC minister in late 2011 at the start of National's second term.

Parliament resumes next Tuesday and on Thursday will elect the new Speaker.

 

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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