Let's face it, it was in John Key's best interests to restore Judith Collins to Cabinet.

While the decision is not without risk, it would have been grossly unfair of the Prime Minister not to reinstate her.

She was accused of some underhand work as former Justice Minister but she was cleared a year ago over allegations she deliberately undermined the credibility of former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley.

READ MORE: Collins says she'll be bringing a firm hand

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Yes, she has a Machiavellian style and has been audacious at times in the way she exercised her authority - just ask Judge Binnie in the Bain compo case - but that hardly disqualifies her for high political office.

There are many backbenchers ambitious for promotion but that is no reason to avoid doing the right thing.

Collins was a senior and competent minister. Not reinstating her would have sent a very poor signal about Key's ability to cope with strong, competent women.

And Key would have had no control over her and her rising profile if he had left her on the back bench, fomenting mischief as she has with health and safety laws, and iwi claims to water rights.

Now she is bound by collective Cabinet responsibility and Key can set boundaries for her that he could not do when she was only an electorate MP.

Already, Key has curbed her profile-raising activities, requiring her to end her regular weekly stint with Paul Henry on TV3 on Fridays.

He doesn't even have to give a reason.

Key also gets to hand Corrections and Police over to National's toughest operator, "the Crusher", away from the relatively gentle souls in Sam Lotu-Iiga and Michael Woodhouse respectively.

Collins' situation is not the same as Maurice Williamson's. He entered Parliament in 1987 and lost his ministerial post last year towards the end of his career for intervening in a police prosecution.

Collins came into Parliament in 2002, the same year as John Key, when they both toppled sitting MPs in selection battles.

Collins has a closer bond with Key than she has with most other ministers or MPs, but he didn't owe her a second chance. He owed it to himself as a fair leader.

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