Bill English's first reshuffle as Prime Minister is big on winners and short on losers.

In that respect it is a very clever reshuffle internally.

It should not lead to dissent in the ranks.

Even Judith Collins, who is technically a loser by dropping two positions and losing Corrections, which she loved, cannot complain because she has picked up a portfolio she has long wanted, Revenue, as well as the new challenge of Energy and Resources from Simon Bridges.


There will be disappointed backbenchers as there always are, but it is not an unfair reshuffle. And there will be two more vacancies in May.

English made an eminently sensible case for a staged reshuffle for Murray McCully in Foreign Affairs to advise English in his new role, and for Hekia Parata in Education, in order to give Nikki Kaye recuperation time from breast cancer.

There were however, two promotions English made that John Key almost certainly would not have: Jacqui Dean and David Bennett as ministers outside cabinet.

Their elevation may cause mumblings but not dissent.

Both were elected in 2005. Both have been chairs of select committees who would not have progressed any further under Key.

In a sense those appointments are a nod to the party itself, to regional New Zealand and to farming New Zealand.

They are appointments that signal that rewards occasionally do go to long-servers and not always to the flash Harry consultants and corporate stars.

Dean's Waitaki electorate bordered English's and so he knows her capabilities well.


David Bennett has also worked closely with English as chairman of the finance and expenditure select committee which has traditionally been a stepping-stone to a ministerial post.

Nick Smith could be termed a loser because he went down the rankings by two but just keeping his job against the clamour from Opposition MPs to dump him makes him a winner, of sorts.

Of the "losers," there is only one significant one, Jo Goodhew - a minister outside cabinet whom most people will not have heard of - who has been returned to the backbench.

Her demotion, plus the nudge applied to Craig Foss this week ahead of the reshuffle, means there will continue to be musical chairs in the posts outside cabinet - and that is no bad thing.

It is a good reshuffle politically as well because it gives an old Government a fresh and younger face.

The leadership troika of English, Paula Bennett and Steven Joyce, have been reinforced by the elevation and or expansion of duties of Simon Bridges, Amy Adams, Jonathan Coleman, Michael Woodhouse and Nikki Kaye.

The change in name of portfolio for Nick Smith from Building and Housing to Housing and Construction has been seized on in some quarters as a major shift.

But the fact is that very little has changed

The Minister of Housing until last term was the name given to the minister in charge of state housing and Housing New Zealand. Until now that has been Bill English and after the reshuffle it will be Amy Adams.

The minister in charge of the regulations, issues and building standards that affect housing affordability until now has been Nick smith and after the reshuffle it will continue to be Nick Smith.​