New National party leader Simon Bridges has signalled it is time for change with a bold shadow Cabinet reshuffle, far more radical than the reshuffles of his two predecessors, Bill English and Sir John Key.

The signs were there last week, when Steven Joyce was overlooked for the coveted shadow Finance portfolio (held by Joyce in government after English became prime minister), in favour of one of Bridges' rivals in the recent party leadership contest, Amy Adams, who is no 3 in the pecking order.

Joyce's resignation from politics followed almost immediately after the snub. There will be those wondering whether Bridges has failed at the first hurdle. With Joyce's departure the party loses someone with considerable knowledge and experience, including as a senior minister, a hugely successful campaign strategist and the man colloquially referred to as ''Mr Fixit''.

Could the well-oiled machine come undone?


Of course, no one makes their mark without ruffling some feathers.

Bridges has been careful to reward his leadership rivals and provide opportunities for those whom he says have worked hard, proved their worth and will be effective for the future.

Paula Bennett remains deputy, Mark Mitchell gets Justice and Defence, Jami-Lee Ross Infrastructure and Transport, and Paul Goldsmith Economic Development and Regional Development. Todd McClay moves up to no 5 and takes Foreign Affairs from Gerry Brownlee. Nikki Kaye is at no 10 and retains Education.

Bridges has softened the blow for some of the old guard, who have dropped in ranking. Thus Brownlee, although losing Foreign Affairs, gets the role of Shadow Leader of the House, the spy agencies and America's Cup portfolios. Michael Woodhouse loses Housing but returns to Immigration and Workplace Relations, considered a pivotal area. Maggie Barrie's loss of Conservation in favour of Sarah Dowie can only be considered a rebuff, however.

But the promotion of Judith "Crusher" Collins to fourth-ranked MP ensures some experience - and clout - remains. The tough talker apparently asked for and got the shadow Housing portfolio and she and Bridges have already indicated she will be putting some serious heat on Phil Twyford.

The new Labour-NZ First Government is still enjoying something of a honeymoon period, and can certainly return fire on housing, given the growing crisis of the past few years.

But it will only be able to argue Collins' appointment - and National's sudden focus on housing - is a cynical ploy for so long. New Zealanders are desperate to see results on the housing front. If the new Government cannot start providing, Collins et al will be able to land some damaging blows.

National has proven far better at managing leadership changes, reshuffles and potentially disjointed noses. It is a strong, united and substantial force, with plenty of experience left in the ranks.


And three years on the Opposition benches will be more than enough for the relative ''newbies'' to learn the ropes ahead of 2020.

Labour, NZ First and the Greens will be on notice to shape up or else.