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Key signals Cabinet reshuffle in New Year

Monday 10 October 2016 05:47 PM

Key signals Cabinet reshuffle in New Year

By Pattrick Smellie

Oct. 10 (BusinessDesk) - Prime Minister John Key has all but confirmed he will reshuffle his Cabinet in the New Year and expects "one or two" ministerial resignations at the 2017 general election.

Asked whether he was considering a reshuffle, Key said: "It’s always possible. From time to time, there are reasons we might do that. It’s not something I've got fixed in my head but you know, at some time there will be retirements and that next year and you know, every election there are different ways we consider those.

"Sometimes people have stayed in their portfolios effectively till Parliament has broken up. Sometimes, to position a new minister, they’ve left a little earlier. So it’s possible," he said, although it was more likely to occur next year “I would have thought”.

He declined to speculate which ministers might leave his Cabinet, although pressure has been mounting on Environment and Housing Minister Nick Smith, whose handling of the Auckland housing crisis, Kermadecs marine sanctuary, and stalled reform of the Resource Management Act are all Achilles Heels for the government.

Responding to today's Labour, Green and Maori Party report on homelessness in New Zealand, Key said the government was always open to new ideas, but that many of the proposals in the report were already the subject of government policies.

"We’ve got a fairly thorough and comprehensive response. Most of it we’ve got covered off," he said.

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On the prospect of a by-election in the Labour-held seat of Mt Roskill, which the newly elected Auckland mayor, Phil Goff, is expected to quit this week, Key said the National Party had never won a seat held by an Opposition party in a by-election, but would "give it a good go".

The party has begun a selection process, but Key appeared careful not to endorse Parmeet Parmar, a list MP with roots in the electorate, who is likely to seek selection.

On the election as mayor in Wellington of Justin Lester, a supporter of a government-funded runway extension for the city's Infratil-controlled airport, Key said the government needed to see a business case but remained sceptical it could be viable if Air New Zealand was not willing to use it.



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