Key isn’t “called the smiling assassin for nothing”

Beware mediocre and under-performing National ministers. ?Your time may be up.

Key is heading to his fridge to check the best-before dates on his ministers before National gets too far along with its candidate-selection processes.

Pushed further on who these ministers might be, Key said such matters were still being worked through.

It prompted an immediate hunt for the one or two ministers in question.

The big one was quickly ruled out: Bill English confirmed he would stand on the list again.

Others also ruled out retiring.

In truth, the ministers who intend to retire probably do not even know it yet.

Key is yet to tell them.

This is a necessary process. ?The absence of it in Labour has allowed the sores to fester for years now. ?They really need to cut dead wood instead of making it a retirement home for washed up political corpses. ?

A number of names have been speculated on – Craig Foss, Nicky Wagner, Louise Upston, Sam Lotu-Iiga for general ordinariness. Murray McCully is named every three years for reasons of longevity, but has said he will stay as long as the PM gives him foreign affairs.

Chris Finlayson is in the same book – his main desire is to stay until the Treaty settlements are done. That was supposed to be 2017 but Ngapuhi’s recalcitrance may well preserve him from early retirement. Should he have actually hoped to leave, Finlayson has also made the mistake of making himself indispensable to the PM over the intelligence review.

Speaker David Carter has told Key he wishes to stand on the list again and continue as Speaker should National be re-elected.

That will close off the option of moving a minister such as Anne Tolley into the Speaker’s role to open a gap on the ministerial benches.

Key’s version of expired goods often does not coincide with the Opposition or the media’s version.

If the Opposition’s version prevailed, Housing Minister Nick Smith would be the first to “retire”.

Smith and Bennett are in charge of the governments least successful policy area. ?Delivering just a couple of dozen affordable ?homes in Special Housing Areas and just coasting along on announcements is hurting. ?It’s an area that needs better management.

McCully is going to have to go to prevent a scandal in election year. ?There is a reason the left are keeping their powder dry – timing is everything.


– Claire Trevett, NZ Herald