For wonks who follow politics in detail, the Todd Muller reshuffle has a lot to admire and is a reassuring start to a new regime.

The fact he's taken Small Business is clever. Small Business is the bulk of business in this country, and it's in massive trouble. If the government response so far, in shuffling billions out the door, has a glaring mistake about it, it is around small business. The loan scheme that hasn't worked, the IRD switch which may, or may not, have worked.

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The simple fact they haven't helped with rents despite the cries for help and still don't have a package out around it is testament that Labour isn't strong on business experience and understanding. Muller has leapt on that.

Nikki Kaye is very strong on education. And although Hipkins is competent, he's an ideologue and open to exploitation around delivery. Judith Collins on economic development, who is she up against? Phil Twyford. Say no more.

Amy Adams is a two-fold success. Of all the retirees she was far and away the most competent. And the fact she was clearly retiring because she had decided they were all toast under Bridges, means she in her heart of hearts thinks they have a chance under Muller.

Paul Goldsmith retaining Finance was a no-brainer. He and Chris Bishop have been stand out performers for the past two years. Mark Mitchell retains Justice and Defence. That's recognition that Mitchell is a talent, and even though a Bridges man you don't burn talent for the sake of it.

Michael Woodhouse in health is almost as one-sided as Collins against Twyford, given Woodhouse has mountain biker David Clark to tangle with.

This is the other part of the overall equation that Muller highlighted last week. Labour have a few solid operators. They are Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and David Parker. Beyond that, the pool is shallow, if not shallow and dangerous. They are ripe for the picking.

At least part, if not a major part, of the Labour success right now is directly a result of virtually none of them having been seen for two months. You've seen Ardern and Robertson.

Given health is behind us and economics is now front and centre. We are now playing into National's strengths, Labour's weaknesses, and forcing the Labour lack of talent back into the cold hard glare of an election campaign.


We don't know yet if Muller has any magic as he goes head to head with Ardern. But this line up shows at least he's got a plan, he's thought about it, and it makes sense. So clearly he's a strategist.

The only other question left is, is the phone off the hook? Are New Zealanders receptive to an election campaign? Are they open to detail and debate? Or have they been so scared into a shell? Is no one coming up or out for light until well after September?