It was jobs for everyone — including our local representatives — when National Party leader Simon Bridges announced his first caucus line-up on Sunday.

Perhaps he was working on the theory that if you keep them busy they can't be plotting against you.

He made a particular point of emphasising the women he had appointed — "three in the top five positions and eight in the top 20" — adding that they were all there on merit, so as to avoid any accusations of tokenism.

Except that that very pronouncement was tokenist and a wee bit patronising.


With New Zealand now under its third female prime minister, there was nothing remarkable about the gender balance of National's front bench. Why mention it? Or why not announce he had two men in his top five positions?

A certain naivete on the new leader's part.

Some way down the list — and unencumbered by concerns of gender balance — stalwart Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie will hold the portfolios of fisheries and racing.

With New Zealand's fishery under increasing pressure, it will be interesting to see how Mr McKelvie — now an old hand on the parliamentary scene — balances the competing demands of the industry and a sustainable aquatic environment.

Through select committee work, he will be able to pursue his particular interests in seniors and veteran issues.

Whanganui MP Harete Hipango will be pleased to have been given the Maori tourism brief, something she is well acquainted with.

While her background is justice and social issues, she is also keen on foreign trade which her Maori tourism role will touch on.

Despite being a political newcomer, her ranking at 47 among the 56 National MPs marks an impressive start, ahead of higher profile and more experienced members of the caucus.