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Reshuffling The Pack.

On English, Sir William, Dr Smith And Moving Targets.

The latest minor reshuffle of Cabinet by Jenny Shipley reinforces her determination to appear as a moving target for the Opposition's guns.

The confirmation of Bill English taking over from Sir William Birch as Treasurer had been previously announced and the appointment of Don McKinnon to the new portfolio of Veterans Affairs was also widely expected.

There is said to have been some lobbying to further remove Sir William from the finance portfolios and in particular someone to put a fresh face on the Revenue portfolio. The ongoing publicity about the IRD's 'culture' is one of many thorns in the Government's side. But Mrs Shipley has decided to follow the leaked advice of her party's focus groups and stick with the tried and true.

Sir William moves to number five and Bill English to number three completing the Cabinet changes announced in January this year.

Interesting to note is the continuing rehabilitation of Lockwood Smith into the inner circle. The Prime Minister hardly bothered to veil her threats during her first reshuffles that Dr Smith's head was on the block and the axe would fall at her leisure.

The gossip mill has it that Dr Smith was bemused and hurt by the change in his status and when he sought to know what he was doing wrong received a vague and less than satisfactory answer to what it was and what he could do about it.

Well, whatever is was has obviously stopped doing it or Mrs Shipley's opinion has changed as the former Education Minister is given a series of tidy up jobs. Today, he is given the task of keeping an eye on Tuariki Delamere, who some National MPs fear may become increasingly erratic as the election looms.

However there are doubts whether Dr Smith has forgiven her for his treatment - politicians' memories run deep - and every Prime Minister lasts only as long their number of political allies exceed their political enemies. Mrs Shipley is well away from going into the negative ledger, but the account is starting to be billed.

Another interesting move is that of Tau Henare into Tertiary Education.

Mrs Shipley said: "Although the Minister of Education will determine the specific responsibilities of his associate ministers, I expect Mr Henare will shift his focus from early childhood education to the compulsory sector and the tertiary sector with particular emphasis on Maori."

Maori entrance to tertiary institutions has been increasing in recent years, but sill lags behind the rest of New Zealand society and the move will be seen as gesture towards this problem as well as taking some of the heavy political workload off Max Bradford.

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