Key is PM in a hurry

By Jonathan Milne

MPs should not plan on a quiet Christmas Eve at home with their families.

The new Prime Minister is a man in a hurry: he intends to push through his tax cuts, KiwiSaver changes, and much of his redundancy rescue package and tough law and order legislation, all under Parliamentary urgency before Christmas.

That may require politicians to sit late into the night for nearly two weeks _ a taste of things to come for the newer and greener MPs.

Spending on initiatives like broadband internet cables and road building could begin early in the new year, in a bid to retune the stuttering Auckland and New Zealand economies.

Much of this spending is expected to be overseen by Steven Joyce, who will be sworn in on Wednesday in the new role of Minister of Infrastructure.

Later this week, Prime Minister-elect John Key and two of his new-minted Cabinet ministers, Murray McCully and Tim Groser, will fly out to the Apec summit in Peru. There, Key plans to draw on his experience as an investment banker in proposing paths out of the global credit crunch.

On his return, he hopes to meet with the Green Party's co-leaders to discuss where he can work with them.

Key is expected to begin his high-paced legislative programme by asking the Governor-General to open Parliament on December 8.

But first, he must appoint his ministers.

Peter Dunne, the United Future leader, will be Revenue Minister.

Act leader Rodney Hide, as an Associate Commerce Minister, is likely to have responsibility for cutting red tape for business.

His deputy, Heather Roy, is tipped as Consumer Affairs Minister. Key's law and order changes are a nod towards Act's tough "three strikes" policy, and are expected to be referred to a select committee before Christmas.

If he gets sign-off from the party's final hui in Tauranga today, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples will take a Maori Affairs portfolio. His co-leader, Tariana Turia, will focus on education and social development.

While John Key will not agree to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act, he has promised to protect the seven Maori seats _ at least for the duration of this government.

"It's a win-win for both parties," Key said. But the three support partners will have few clear-cut wins to present to their supporters if the details of the governing partnership are announced this afternoon, as planned.

"We're offering a willingness to work on ideas," Key said. "Ultimately we're a minority government, so any legislation we pass outside of the Budget, or confidence and supply, needs to be a negotiation.

"I think we've erred on the side of generosity in all of the deals ... This is about building long-term relationships."

- Herald on Sunday

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