As happens every so often in New Zealand politics there is a reshuffle of either the Government or the main Opposition Party. Midway through their first term on the Opposition benches, National have decided it is time to freshen up their shadow cabinet, with two retirements and a demotion being the major outcomes.
Amy Adams, M.P. for Selwyn electorate near Christchurch has announced her retirement from politics. Mrs Adams, who came to office when National was elected to govern in 2008 departs after nine years holding some significant portfolio’s, which included Minister of Justice and Minister for Environment. During her tenure in both portfolio’s there were significant milestones introduced, which included expunging the convictions of gay men who have been charged with consensual homosexual conduct.
Mrs Adams however has been a less than effect shadow Minister for Finance and whereas past shadow Ministers for that portfolio have made a significant effort around Budget time, Mrs Adams seemed to be missing in action.
Her departure will be a blow for National. Mrs Adams has served it well and proved to be an effective Minister. I met her in 2016 at an event to acknowledge community radio, and whilst she was reluctant to get involved with the Amnesty International actions I was promoting, she did give me a good hearing without trying to interrupt or change the conversation. The Selwyn seat is one of the bluest in the South Island and National should not have any trouble hanging on to it. Whilst it has come and gone through the years and traded towns with neighbouring electorates, it has remained steadfastly conservative. The seat was formed out of a merger of the Rakaia electorate which used to be held by former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley.
Contrast this with the departure of Alistair Scott, a Member of Parliament who has gained a record for absenteeism, to the point of going A.W.O.L. when he was meant to be appearing with his leader at the Golden Shears International sheep shearing competition. During that time, his Labour Party counterpart Kieran McAnulty has made the most of Mr Scott’s absenteeism, and has in some respects effectively become the Member of Parliament for Wairarapa.
Belated recognition by the National Party that Mr Scott is at risk of costing them a seat, probably helps to explain his abrupt departure.
The other major mover was Judith Collins. As a ticking off for her attempt to unseat her leader Simon Bridges, she was stripped of the Infrastructure portfolio. That goes to list Member of Parliament, Paul Goldsmith, who has proven to be one of the more effective shadow Ministers in the 52nd New Zealand Parliament. Mr Goldsmith relinquished a couple of portfolio’s to make way for Chris Bishop (Lower Hutt)as a reward for Mr Bishop’s work on transport and police.
But is this enough to make National ready for the period from now until the 2020 election, or will Mr Bridges find himself having to make further changes. Who will keep the pressure on Minister for Kiwi Build Phil Twyford and Minister of Health David Clark as both portfolio’s stumble forward not really knowing what they are meant to be doing?