John Key's reshuffle yesterday promoted Simon Bridges and Chris Tremain and leaves the way open for Nick Smith to come back if the Prime Minister deems he has been punished enough.
Dr Smith's resignation after involving himself in a friend's ACC claim while he was ACC Minister left a Cabinet vacancy and three significant portfolios to allocate: Environment, Local Government and Climate Change Issues.
Mr Tremain, the MP for Napier, has been promoted to the Cabinet and Mr Bridges, the MP for Tauranga, promoted to a ministerial post outside the Cabinet.
Second-term MP Amy Adams has been given a promotion in terms of responsibility by picking up Environment from Dr Smith after just five months in the Cabinet.
She had Internal Affairs but that has gone to Mr Tremain.
He had Consumer Affairs but that has gone to Mr Bridges.
Local Government and the job of shepherding through major reforms in the area designed by Dr Smith has been allocated to Primary Industries Minister David Carter.
But Mr Carter is one of the contenders for the position of Speaker to replace Lockwood Smith, who is earmarked for the role of High Commissioner to London this year.
If Mr Carter becomes Speaker, Dr Smith could be rehabilitated back into the ministry without much fuss.
He resigned quickly - within two days of the Herald revealing that as ACC Minister last term, he had written a reference for Bronwyn Pullar which was used in her claims to ACC.
Trade Minister Tim Groser has taken over the role of Climate Change Issues.
He is already familiar with the territory, having held responsibility for international negotiations on Climate Change.
Mr Bridges has been made Associate Minister of Climate Change Issues, one of the most complex issues of public policy. That is a big vote of confidence in him by Mr Key because Mr Groser travels extensively as Trade Minister and the associate minister will have to be on top of the portfolio as well.
Mr Bridges has also been made Associate Transport Minister. He is in his second term and has been chairing the finance and expenditure select committee.By Audrey Young Email Audrey