It's Cabinet Reshuffle time! A time when political nerds salivate over the prospect of a new set of political names to take over the same political policies that already existed.
The Prime Minister said that the Cabinet reshuffle would take place on Thursday, which is a lame time to announce it. It's the Thursday before a long recess so there won't be much for political nerds to talk about except the reshuffle, so I hope it's a fun one. She also refused to say she had confidence in Housing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, just saying that he had done a very good job in a challenging portfolio. It was all in the past tense. Awks Phil.
Making political prophecies is a fools' errand. There are two ways to be successful at it. Either make enough predictions that some are guaranteed to come true and then claim you knew all along; or, have real insider gossip and share that but do so sparingly so that you retain an air of mystery.
I fit into neither category. I'm loathe to make any predictions. I once said that iPads would be a passing fad. So my track record isn't flash.
That said, I have some reckons about what things should happen.
It's slightly trickier in the Labour Party when it comes to Cabinet positions. All MPs get to vote for who goes into the Executive, it's just the Prime Minister who gets to decide portfolios. This means MPs could get a big enough gang of mates together and all vote for each other to be Ministers. Then the Prime Minister is stuck with them. It also means they'd probably get stink portfolios that nobody really wants anyway. Like housing.
Back when John Key was Prime Minister and National were leading the Government, Key would allegedly hold a game of heads down tails up in caucus then walk round and select MPs to be Ministers and dish out portfolios however he saw fit.
So the big thing that should happen and which seems to have been signalled is Twyford should lose at least one portfolio. Probably housing. Because truth be told KiwiBuild has been a cluster fuss. And Phil has not been great at fixing the housing crisis. Oh sure he's bounced up to a couple of home openings with a smile on his face like he's just got some KiwiCream and listened to Dave Dobbyn sing pretty KiwiSongs, but the housing crisis remains in crisis territory and maybe Phil should start with maintaining a Wendy House and then move onto something more substantial.
By not expressing confidence in Twyford at her weekly post-cabinet press conference, the Prime Minister chucked him under a pretty big tram, and perhaps this means he'll stick to focusing on trams in his transport portfolio and get Auckland the light rail it so badly deserves. Or Wellington the trackless trams our mayor so badly wants.
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While Phil has been what some might call a red-stickered housing Minister, it's probably not all his fault. It seems that Labour genuinely believed that National wanted a housing crisis and it was merely a lack of willpower and smugness that stopped them from fixing it. So along came Phil, and with all the willpower and smugness in the world he was unable to fix it.
Maybe there are more systemic issues at play, like RMA reform, the cost of new-build components and other boring bureaucratic issues that require attention.
The Minister best placed to probably pick up the housing portfolio would be a big ol' nerdy swot. Someone like David Parker. But to do this he'd have to give up one of his portfolios like economic development.
The PM will also have to reward Kris Faafoi who kept picking up portfolios when others fell but could never quite prise open the door to cabinet and come on in.
There is also a gender balance that needs to be looked at. Not even a third of Ministers inside cabinet are women which is frankly not good enough. What needs to be decided then is whether the talent pool of Labour MPs is deep and brimming with talented people just waiting for the nod, or actually a talent puddle and we just haven't got many MPs capable of being Ministers.
If the Prime Minister did put poor Phil out of his housing misery, she could announce the "reset" of KiwiBuild at the same time. And it would be just fine if they killed it as a policy. Sure Judith Collins would claim it as a victory for her relentless attack on Phil, but better that than to continually flog a very dead house.
• David Cormack has worked for the Labour and Green parties and interned for Bill English while studying.