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Rating the cabinet

The Herald's political staff rate the cabinet's performance

HELEN CLARK 7 (7 a year ago)
Prime Minister

As focused as ever, if not more so, in contrast with many of her ministers. But has made a couple of significant bad calls over political management of election spending and child-smacking issues.

MICHAEL CULLEN 6 (7)
Finance / Tertiary

Still the flawed genius without whom Clark could not operate effectively but looking a bit tired on it lately.

JIM ANDERTON 6 (6)
Agriculture / Forestry

Problems in fisheries and forestry. Time this old warhorse slowed down and looked to that grazing paddock beyond the Beehive.

STEVE MAHAREY 6 (7)
Education

His supreme self-confidence should have taken a battering over the 20-hour "free" childcare fiasco and the implementation of NCEA. But it hasn't because he has, well, supreme self-confidence.

PHIL GOFF 9 (9)
Defence / Trade Negotiations

On top of portfolios, as always. Without Foreign Affairs, he travels less and Labour benefits from his first-rate performance in the House more often.

ANNETTE KING 9 (7)
Transport / Police

Increases her value to the Government with each passing crisis. Gets results. Capable manager behind the scenes and in front.

TREVOR MALLARD 4 (6)
Economic Development / Sport

Where is the sales job on economic transformation? Wins points for audacious Auckland waterfront stadium, but loses more for insulting the most important electorate in the country for failing to agree with him. Valued inside the party but has lost some of his credibility.

PETE HODGSON 4 (4)
Health

People being bumped off waiting lists, Herceptin, the Medlab fiasco, strikes that threaten treatment - none may be exactly his fault but all have happened on his watch. So he gets a little less than the rating he himself gives the health system.

PAREKURA HOROMIA 5 (5)
Maori Affairs

A popular minister but with little to claim personally for his six years in the job. If life back on the farm beckons, answer the call.

MARK BURTON 2 (2)
Justice / Treaty Negotiations

Clark must be pointing him in the direction of the exit sign next election. Not a single apparent success. Entire Justice portfolio under review. No momentum in Treaty Negotiations. No pay-off for the rates rebate pledge.

RUTH DYSON 5 (5)
Labour / Disability

Competent but has never quite managed to turn it into political capital for her party.

CHRIS CARTER 8 (7)
Conservation / Housing

Has acquired the skill of doing an awful lot with very little, so much so that his stance on whaling is in danger of dominating NZ's relationship with Japan. Mucked up badly on the Whangamata Marina but recovered quickly.

RICK BARKER 5 (6)
Civil Defence / Internal Affairs

Not a difficult job to get right but has still made errors.

DAVID BENSON-POPE 4 (3)
Social Development

Wrong man for the job but then this portfolio is not as important to Labour as it was in its first two terms. Bring back Maharey. At least he was passionate about it.

LIANNE DALZIEL 6 (6)
Commerce

Has not had the comeback she should have after her sacking from the Cabinet but then commerce is hardly the portfolio to showcase one's talents. Time for another test.

DAMIEN O'CONNOR 2 (8)
Corrections

Dear, oh dear. Such high hopes for this popular minister. Has suffered badly from his department's ineptitude but also highlighted some of his own management deficiencies.
Possibly redeemable.

DAVID CUNLIFFE 8 (8)
Immigration / Communications

Having NZ First on Labour's side means he has not really been tested on Immigration but has handled attacks over Taito Phillip Field adeptly and shown some spine in standing up to telcos.

DAVID PARKER 6 (6)
Energy / Climate Change

Policy formation is hard work in this area and this is a minister with attention to detail in a detailed area but the proof will be in the final policy, not the door-stop pile of consultation documents. The bigger test will be his ability to gain cross-party support.

NANAIA MAHUTA 5 (6)
Customs / Youth Affairs

One law for all dogs should not be what this minister is best remembered for. She has talent, where is it? Use it, or lose it.

CLAYTON COSGROVE 8 (7)
Building Issues

Has done remarkably well to impose accountability measures in an industry that had lost the confidence of the people. Under-estimated and under-used.

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