The new Cabinet appointments drew mostly favourable reactions yesterday from the people who are likely to work with the new ministers. Here's what some experts said about John Key's choices.

Key Points:

BILL ENGLISH, INFRASTRUCTURE

Stephen Selwood, chief executive of the Council for Infrastructure Development, was delighted with such a senior appointment. "I hope Bill English becomes a Cabinet champion for the key infrastructure ministers to see some focus and leadership in that area."

Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce went further. "Does wow cover it?"

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Mr Barnett said transport was not just about having a good understanding of Auckland and its problems but an understanding of the various agencies Auckland had to deal with.

TONY RYALL, HEALTH

Medical Association chairman Dr Peter Foley was pleased to have a new Health Minister who understood the portfolio so well. "He hasn't got a big learning curve. He's already there."

College of Midwives national director Karen Guilliland said National had been very supportive over midwife shortages, so the college looked forward to hearing the Government's policy details and working with it to expand the maternity workforce.

NICK SMITH, ENVIRONMENT

Gary Taylor, of the Environmental Defence Society, said Dr Smith was the most informed person on climate change and the environmental in the National caucus.

"He has attended a large number of our conferences and is very well educated. We look forward to working with him."

Mr Taylor said Dr Smith took climate change very seriously and was committed to an emissions trading scheme. "Hopefully he can talk some sense to Act."

Peter Neilson, chief executive Business Council for Sustainable Development, agreed Dr Smith was the best person for the job out of the National Party ranks.

But he would have a big workload.

"It will be a heavy one next year."

Dr Smith would have to handle the build up to the settlement of the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen and a renewed emissions trading policy.

ANNE TOLLEY, EDUCATION

Frances Nelson, president of the largest education union, the NZEI, said Mrs Tolley had developed a solid working relationship with teachers and others in the field while in opposition. "I am confident she will continue that approach as minister."

Victoria University dean of education Professor Dugald Scott said co-ordination was required from "cradle to grave" in the education sector so he was particularly pleased Mrs Tolley's responsibilities included overseeing tertiary education.

CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON, TREATY NEGOTIATIONS

Ngapuhi chairman Sonny Tau said: "I think that he has the experience but what he needs is the ability to make decisions that are binding of the Crown. If Treaty settlements are to be concluded by 2014 he needs to start yesterday."

Grant Hawke, Ngati Whatua o Orakei chairman, said he was comfortable with Mr Finlayson as Treaty Negotiations Minister because of his experience as Ngai Tahu's lawyer in their claim against the Crown.

Mr Finlayson also had a "firm grasp" of current issues facing iwi.

STEVEN JOYCE, TRANSPORT

AA Motoring Affairs manager Mike Noon said Mr Joyce's quadruple portfolios, including Associate Finance Minister, would help him to get funding for roading projects.

He plans to write to Mr Joyce about safety and completing projects such as Auckland's Western ring route.

Campaign for Better Transport convener Cameron Pitches said: "Being North Shore-based, he will understand there are too many cars in Auckland and too little parking at public transport hubs. New funding for public transport could be a slight concern."

PAULA BENNETT, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Kay Brereton from the Wellington People's Centre said: "I guess it shows that beneficiaries do have the ability to be anything. But former beneficiaries come in two categories - some are very sympathetic and remember and understand what it's like, and others feel that if they could get off the benefit anyone can."

Tina Reid of the Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations said: "She has worked very hard in her first term in getting to know the sector. She has been really clearly committed to full funding [of essential social services]. But she's very inexperienced; she will have a lot to learn."

PITA SHARPLES, MAORI AFFAIRS

Api Mahuika, Ngati Porou leader, said Dr Sharples' background in education, working with the Police and other community activities was an asset to the role. "I think it's a good choice. The only problem is that it's outside of Cabinet, however we have to be pragmatic about these situations."

Tuku Morgan, Waikato-Tainui leader, said: "Pita is ... sharp and in his career he's been responsible for many cutting edge, innovative developments. I applaud the choice."

WINNERS

* PAULA BENNETT:

The surprise of the line-up, the second-term Waitakere MP is elevated to Minister of Social Development and Employment, overseeing the $20 billion budget of the biggest department in Government. Some say it is risky - but John Key has faith in the solo mum who could and she will be determined to prove it is justified.

* STEVEN JOYCE:

Newcomer to Parliament goes straight into Cabinet with grunty transport and telecommunications portfolios. High placing is credited to his experience in business and within the National Party as a head campaign strategist. Will work closely with Bill English.

* PHIL HEATLEY:

A lucky chap and the choice must rankle with those who were overlooked. Made some hits in housing while in Opposition where he worked diligently, but without much flair.

* CHRIS FINLAYSON:

Second-term MP deservedly goes into Cabinet as Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister. An intellectual and lawyer with coalface experience in the portfolios he will now govern. Likely to lead on constitutional issues, such as the review of Maori seats and the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act. A well-known patron of the arts, the choice will be a relief for those in the creative sector.

LOSERS

* MAURICE WILLIAMSON:

Not in Cabinet, but will be Minister of Building and Construction, Customs, and Statistics, as well as of Small Business. Dealt the death knell to his chances of Cabinet by discussing road toll prices during the campaign, despite his boss trying to shut him down. Experienced and with a strong grasp of his former transport and telecommunications portfolios, he was tainted by representing both the right and the 1990s in John Key's more centrist caucus.

* RICHARD WORTH:

Left out of Cabinet and gets only minor portfolios. Will be a disappointment to the former lawyer, who was also one of those in line as Speaker.

* PAUL HUTCHISON:

Relegated to the also-rans despite working hard in health and tertiary education while in Opposition.

* CHESTER BORROWS:

Not so much a loser as waiting as the wings. Will be one of those - including Chris Tremain and Nathan Guy - whom Key's eye will be on for future promotion. Best suited for police and a safe pair of hands, but lacks the political instinct of Judith Collins.