The Dim-Post

January 23, 2013


Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:35 am

John Armstrong on the Cabinet reshuffle:

John Key’s dramatic Cabinet reshuffle displays a streak of ruthlessness hitherto rarely seen in a New Zealand prime minister.

Key has displayed all the sentiment of a corporate restructurer. So ministers are given the chance to perform.

If they do not they are out. Simple as that.

Above all, what the reshuffle does is put the entire Cabinet on notice. National largely got away with last year’s catalogue of blunders and unwanted distractions without too much damage to its support in opinion polls.

Tracy Watkins at Fairfax:

No-one saw the brutal dumping of long-time Cabinet ministers Kate Wilkinson and Phil Heatley coming – least of all them.

The usual route out of Cabinet for underperforming ministers is a slow slide down the rankings and reassignment to lesser portfolios.

But Prime Minister John Key, a man once known as banking’s smiling assassin, refused to offer them even that fig leaf, giving them just a few hours’ notice of their fate.

Mr Key made no bones yesterday about the reason for his sense of urgency to bring fresh blood into Cabinet – he did not want to repeat the mistakes of his cautious predecessor Helen Clark, who failed to rejuvenate her lineup

People sometimes badmouth the PM’s comms team, but anyone who can sell a minor mid-term Cabinet reshuffle – in which an MP stood down less than a year ago for unethical behavior is reinstated, and an incompetent failure remains in charge of the education system – as an act of corporate-style ruthlessness that puts the Cabinet ‘on notice’, is a stone-cold genius.

Presumably National’s market research has found that people see Key as ‘too relaxed’, ‘not tough enough’, etc, and one of the government’s goals for 2013 is to address that perception. If I’m right then we won’t see the PM declaring he’s ‘comfortable’ or ‘relaxed’ about anything for the next few months.


  1. Very minor shuffle caused by the speaker of the house’s departure. Absolutely. Do you seriously think the Nats want voters to see Key as more ruthless though? We already think he is an arrogant asshole who cares nothing for what the country really wants or needs. So ruthless? Yeah that really makes me want to vote for him!

    Comment by proseotalk — January 23, 2013 @ 7:41 am

  2. Of course, this is someone who acts IMMEDIATELY to set up a task force to sort out the Noroviruspay mess as soon as it’s apparent that the supplier is woefully under-skill-setted to sort it themselves. “But let’s just wait until after the holidays. It’s not really THAT urgent…”

    Comment by jb — January 23, 2013 @ 8:16 am

  3. I had to laugh. Nick Smith, a bloke stood down from Cabinet for misusing his position to benefit a friend, is brought back into Cabinet to work on housing affordability. I guess we’d better just hope none of Nick’s mates are property developers.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — January 23, 2013 @ 8:37 am

  4. Helen Clark tripped over in a factory so of course we never saw the end of such a corcrete display of feminine weakness . The clown prince has an “out of body experience’ so naturally he’s immediately a decisive presbyterian anti-zac leaning on his “steady’ whiskey bill media mogul mate. It’s government by talkback, pollsters and piss-heads.

    Comment by ak — January 23, 2013 @ 8:52 am

  5. @Psycho Milt 8:37 am

    I guess we’d better just hope none of Nick’s mates are property developers.

    It’s worse than that. Nick Smith’s brothers Tim and Albert are big players in the construction industry.

    Comment by toad — January 23, 2013 @ 9:19 am

  6. Ruthless my ass. One word, Parata.

    Comment by alex — January 23, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  7. And yet the man himself was simultaneously insisting nobody had done anything wrong (they’d just… had their chance). It *could* be a shallow reverse psychology to make the gallery feel clever, but it doesn’t convey ruthlessness viewed on its own.

    Comment by lyndonhood — January 23, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  8. John Key’s dramatic Cabinet reshuffle displays a streak of ruthlessness hitherto rarely seen in a New Zealand prime minister. Key has displayed all the sentiment of a corporate restructurer…

    I’m pretty sure that every time John Armstrong editorially masturbates, God kills a kitten.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 23, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  9. “I’m pretty sure that every time John Armstrong editorially masturbates, God kills a kitten.”

    Gareth Morgan will be pleased.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 23, 2013 @ 9:59 am

  10. Armstrong gets really aroused when politicians sack people. Here he is back when Judith Collins tried (and ultimately failed) to fire her Corrections CEO:

    Wielding a calculated, but ruthless combination of raw power and tactical guile, Corrections Minister Judith “Crusher” Collins has torn up the public service rulebook and effectively engineered the sacking of her departmental chief executive.

    Technically, she cannot fire Barry Matthews, the long-suffering head of the problem-plagued Corrections Department. But “technically” is not a word in this Collins’ dictionary.

    That finding is sufficient for Matthews to have fallen on his sword without prompting. But respite will be shortlived. In place of the sword, Collins has plunged her stiletto into the hapless Matthews.

    Matthews is still in his job – but in name only. For all intents and purposes, his scalp now hangs in Collins’ sixth-floor Beehive office – a reminder to other chief executives of what might be termed National’s “new age of accountability”.

    Whether Matthews will go before he is pushed could not be ascertained yesterday. Collins’ humiliation of her chief executive extended to her instructing him not to comment and leave the talking to her while she tightened the noose.

    Matthews left when his contract ended a few years later.

    Comment by danylmc — January 23, 2013 @ 10:03 am

  11. Gareth Morgan will be pleased.

    Now that was pure comments thread gold.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — January 23, 2013 @ 10:34 am

  12. I disagree with the premise that if Ministers do not perform, they are out. Hekia Parata and Paula Bennett are still very much in. Wilkinson has been used as a scapegoat but I’m glad to see her go because she isn’t very popular in her electorate. Bringing in Kaye was a job well done though.

    Comment by Dan — January 23, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  13. Gordon Campbell encapsulated the reshuffle when he asked what the problem was if reinstating Nick Smith was the answer?

    As for Parata, someone, I suspect on this blog site, made the observation that sack her in a few months means I made a mistake, sack her after 12 months she made the mistakes.

    Then I can smile and wave and be relaxed as Minister of Tourism as I can spend my time in Hawaii when on holiday..

    Comment by peterlepaysan — January 23, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

  14. Anyone noticed the poll? The options are “brave and bold”, “solid and dependable” or “average”. Truly a stirring and non-partisan spread of options there.

    Comment by Flynn — January 23, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

  15. #14: On the other hand, the Fairfax poll is a bit more nuanced.

    Comment by deepred — January 24, 2013 @ 12:01 am

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