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Hello everybody! Hi Dr Nick!

Written By: - Date published: 10:50 am, January 22nd, 2013 - 39 comments
Categories: accountability, bill english, Hekia parata, john key, same old national - Tags: ,

So Nick Smith is to be returned to cabinet after spending nearly a year on the bench for his ethical flaws.  Presumably 10 months on the back benches heals all those desires to abuse your powers to try to help your friends get money.

He may well get David Carter’s portfolios (Primary Industries and Local Government) as Carter moves to become speaker with Lockwood off appointed to his cushy London job.  Amy Adams is to keep his old Environment portfolio (and get some sort of promotion).

I think Robert Winter has it summed up best – Dr Smith doesn’t deserve it and will be an easy opposition target, but with so much lack of performance in the cabinet John Key can’t help but see him as in improvement.  I mean, if you’re seeing Hekia Parata as one of your best communicators… and keeping her in education (somehow making Anne Tolley look competent), anything starts to look justifiable.

And if you never saw the ethical flaws in your Finance Minister fiddling his expenses for personal gain, then misusing your powers for someone else’s gain (albeit a close personal friend) seems positively altruistic.

I give you the National Cabinet: Quality with a capital K. (please take them…)

Update: Smith get Conservation and Housing.

39 comments on “Hello everybody! Hi Dr Nick!”

  1. Northshoreguynz 1

    Was Nick Smith the minister who deregulated the building trade to let in leaky homes?

    • Lightly 1.1

      thought that was williamson

      • Bunji 1.1.1

        Wow, that took a lot of finding… I’ve always wondered who the Minister Responsible was (had heard Williamson, but wanted to check)… And the answer is:

        Graeme Lee as Minister of Internal Affairs was responsible for bringing in the de-regulating 1991 Building Act under the 1st Bolger Government. It came into full effect in 1994, and was repealed by Lianne Dalziel as Commerce Minister in 2004.

      • tracey 1.1.2

        Mr Williamson and Mr Banks voted for it at the time.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Nick Smith is a damn sight harder working and more knowledgeable than the majority of his layabout caucus colleagues, including Parata.

    Key is very short of talent in his caucus, he has the smarts to recognise that, and furthermore Key has the leadership nous and self-confidence to bring back on to the field one of his highly experienced performers.

    • McFlock 2.1

      more capable but more corrupt, vs abject, publicly displayed incompetence.

      Such choices for a tory leader.
      No wonder he’s looking glum.

    • tracey 2.2

      passage of time heals all things, especially lack of ethics… for the Pm that passage of time is less than 24 hours

  3. Enough is Enough 3

    This just shows the level of corruption in this government.

    Nick Smith used his power as a Minister of the Crown to get money for one of his Tory mates. He should be in jail for what he did but no, Key is going to give him a 100k pay rise today after giving him a six month holiday.

    While the workers of this country descend further into poverty on a daily basis, Key is rewarding his corrupt ministers. Their after party tonight will probably cost 5 times what an average worker earns in a year.

    These kind of ethics belong in a Sopranos episode or Ethiopia

  4. Peter 4

    Comments like this annoy me. We’ve gone from an outright denialist in Carter to someone far more nuanced and intelligent. Yeah, he’s still a National Party cabinet minister, but he’s very aware of those issues, and I expect to see some good things happen. It’s a less than perfect world, but some steps are better than others.

    I’ll always give Smith credit for bringing in water metering regulations – that move alone has forced a major rethink.

    • Bunji 4.1

      So because he’s slightly greener than his colleagues we shouldn’t question his ethics, even when he uses his Ministerial influence to try to get money out of government coffers for a friend?

      And his Local Government Act is pretty dang nasty stuff. Even if it had to be completed by Carter, it was his doing.

      • Peter 4.1.1

        By all means, question his ethics. You’d find close to the same level of money for mates with the other team in power too, if you looked. They all do that.

        But performance wise, I’m pleased to see him back. It may be an admission from Key that they are seriously struggling on environmental issues.

        • tracey 4.1.1.1

          Did he agree or disagree with the demolition of the democratic structure in Christchurch to ensure dairy farmers who have chosen to dairy on drought affected land can get all the water they want from the rivers???

  5. Te Reo Putake 5

    Smith back, Kaye in, Bridges gets Labour. Bye everybodyyyy from Wilknison and Heatley. Claire Trevett has the details:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10860685

  6. vto 6

    Why don’t Labour announce a reshuffle at the exact same time and dilute the news? Get in amongst the news and ankle tap the Nats. All most people would hear then is labour and national and heads changing places, instead of the news being all about the nats.

    Is Shearer still on hols?

    • karol 6.1

      In their article predicting a Smith comeback, Stuff also said Shane Jones would be back to the Labour front bench in Shearer’s upcoming reshuffle – in the next week or so, I think. It’s since been removed from the Stuff article.

  7. xtasy 7

    Nick Smith appears to be replacing Phil Heatley as Minister for Housing now.

    That tells me: The Nats are going to plan a greater emphasis on housing policies, and it seems that they want to take the bull (if one can call Shearer and his Labour caucus such at all, ha, ha) by its horns, to offer a probably more “market friendly” alternative to Labour’s housing policies announced a bit before Christmas.

    So Nick the d*** has been “forgiven” for his inappropriate conduct while ACC Minister.

    An interesting bit I heard on 1ZB this morning, where both Hooton and Pagani were asked about their interpretations on Smith’s return to cabinet.

    Pagani talked about Smith being viewed as a competent or great “reformer” and as having been working on paving the way to possibly privatise ACC at some stage.

    She then made a bizarre comment re reforming and privatising, a bit like, this would be just “what the right wing of the Labour Party would want”, but then she swiftly corrected herself, referring afterwards to the “right wing of the National Party”.

    Well, I had to wonder, was she honest, or was it just a little verbal mix-up??!

    Heatley appears to have been unable to convince Key that he is worth having for looking after housing. That is very interesting.

  8. George D 8

    As Peter said, he’s not incompetent, just ideologically and ethically challenged. He’s also probably the least-worst person they have to be dealing with these issues, from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about our environment and the future of our country. That doesn’t make him good, of course.

    If you want to get Nick Smith out (you’d make my Grandma very happy), you need to put forward someone other than Maryan Street to contest his seat. She’s a nice person who doesn’t have what it takes to win. While he could survive on the list for a while, but he’d get churned out and replaced by fresher talent. Right now, he’s safe until he wants to retire, however many years in the future that is – he’s not that old.

    To think that Nelson used to be a pretty safe Labour seat…

    • tc 8.1

      ‘To think that Nelson used to be a pretty safe Labour seat…’ and Waitakere, Mangakiekie etc etc. Some are down to a better message some are down to dud candidates.

      Let’s all wade ankle deep across the Nat talent pool but as they say in sport you don’t have to ge good, just better than your opposition.

      Your move DS.

    • pollywog 8.2

      Who would you have in mind to contest and oust Smith from Nelson?

      • George D 8.2.1

        I don’t know Nelson. Someone with presence, mana, and intelligence, and with a degree of respect from the community. Whoever that is (they probably don’t exist, and will have to be cultivated).

        • pollywog 8.2.1.1

          if Labour can parachute a custom fit for Mana like they did with Fa’afoi, why not drop in some rich old redneck to suit Nelson:)

  9. Rich 9

    This is, one should note, his second offence. He got convicted for contempt of court in 2004, but the (Labour) speaker considered that the entertainment value of keeping him in parliament outweighed his transgression.

  10. karol 10

    Just alerted to the extension of Bennett’s role in the reshuffle, by a tweet from Sue Bradford:

    Cabinet housing changes an indictment of Heatley, alongside a stark warning as Paula Bennett now involved here as well http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/pm-announces-changes-cabinet-line/5/145587

    From the voxy article that Bradford links to:

    “I have also asked Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to work with Nick as Associate Housing Minister, reflecting the strong links between these two areas. Tariana Turia will remain as Associate Minister and a part of that housing team.”

  11. Ed 11

    Smith earned my contempt for his blatant dishonesty regarding ACC. The misrepresentation of its financial position, when he must have known that it held higher reserves than when National was previously in power, and had always been based on a government guarantee, was accompanied by an appalling muzzling of Directors and Management before a select committee hearing, all to try and line ACC up for sale. The industry had however been burned once with National’s antics, and he eventually turned to merely repeating the lies to try to discredit Labour, and to line up some ‘good news’ for when they decide to politically determine a reduction in levies and government contributions.

    Smith may well have influenced the continuation of that cynical misrepresentation when National recently decided to ignore recommendations to reduce levies – they want to save that for election ‘good news’ . . .

    National have clearly been hurt by their housing failures and Labours initiative – look for more dishonesty from Smith and Bennett as they try to persuade us that black is white . . .

  12. tracey 12

    Wilkinson has done little wrong, imo, other than telling the truth as employment minister and having to be “corrected” by the PM for mistakenly telling the truth about National intention and then resigned in the wake of the Pike River report… So she is gone. Brownlee must have s detailed GPS data system on where the bodies are buried… he was more culpable than Wilkinson over Pike River.

    Women dont really last long in this cabinet, get the shit jobs and shitty times and then get knocked off…

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Wilkinson has done little wrong, imo,

      Wilkinson was completely shit and incompetent at her job at Conservation. She had no personal interest or care in the subject area of Conservation. She let her Departmental budget get slashed and failed to defend her staff when they were attacked. She let NZ’s international reputation as conservation leaders go down the tubes via issues like the Ross Sea, and 100% Pure.

      To claim that Wilkinson was demoted just because she was a woman you’d have to claim that Nikki Kaye was promoted just because she was a woman.

      In reality, Wilkinson sucked bad at her job, and Key showed the leadership nous to make her pay.

    • Peter 12.2

      Wilkinson is quite possibly the worst Minister that the conservation portfolio has had. She’s presided over the loss of most DOC scientists, and another upcoming review (that she did little to stop) will result in the loss of a lot of uniformed area staff.

      She’s also stood by whilst all sorts of crazy commercial proposals are being proposed for the conservation estate – try CV’s two private roads for private companies within public parks. Also try the Minister losing her ability to even create a new scenic reserve – Phil Heatley’s bill going through parliament right now stops that, and gives that power to Brownlee’s faction in cabinet. Oh yeah, it also approves, by rubber stamp, mining on most of the conservation estate.

      Where’s the march down Queen Street on this one?

      She also tried to remove a marine reserve from Akaroa Harbour, was taken to the High Court, and lost.

      Amongst my friends and colleagues, Wilkinson’s sacking was treated with cheering.

  13. coolas 13

    Nick Smith is the architect of the draconian Local Government reforms that open the way for Council amalgamations at the whim of lobby groups, (by-passing referendum), and stripping Councils of their cultural/social well-being functions. The guy’s a wrecker, as well as devious, and dishonest.

    Now he’s back with Housing and Conservation. He’ll slaughter Labour’s housing policy – he’s good at that (I can see Shearer stammering and bumbling already) and with Conservation he’ll no doubt scheme a way to deliver more DOC estate to mining, promote fracking, and any other transfer of public wealth to private he can find.

    Fortunately Nick Smith is prone to fucking up, and he can go loopy under pressure. Might take awhile now he’s ‘refreshed’ but I’m confident he’ll fuck up again.

  14. rod 14

    The Brat Pack are alive and well. Ryall, English and now Smithy’s back. Jeez, Thanks for nothing Johnboy.

  15. bad12 15

    Yes Wilkinson paid the price of Pike River, and Phil Heatley is about to pay the price for being unable to move 150 odd State House tenants out of their West Auckland homes without first creating what is best described as a riot and some very bad publicity for the National Government, plus Phil’s propensity to take on the characteristics of a frightened mouse every time Labour’s Annette King rose in the House to ask Phil yet another barbed question to which He didn’t have an answer,

    While not wanting to fear monger the advice to HousingNZ tenants is to at least consider a plan ‘B’, Smith hasn’t been elevated to Housing Minister if there is not a ‘plan’ about to be put in motion,

    Moving tenants from desirable HousingNZ properties so as to free up the land for ‘private speculators’ seems to be the current flavor of this Slippery National Government and we may yet see more of an imperative applied to such tenants to move than has currently been the practice, i will choose not to speculate upon what form of leverage Smith and Bennett might use to move the poorest of the poor located in the State housing portfolio ‘on’,

    The politics of the changes Slippery has made to His Cabinet are a continuance of the finely balanced nature of the National Party Cabinet where the English ‘brat pack’ have one of their number back in the form of Smith,(although why they would want Him is beyond me), and Slippery gets a definite acolyte in the form of Nikki Kaye in to keep the balance between the 2 camps on a par,

    Meanwhile downstairs in the also ran’s corner Maurice Williamson has a couple of recruits awaiting tasks for their idle hands, Maurice who flatly refused the House Speakers role when Slippery tried in vain to shoehorn the biggest threat to His leadership(Williamson) into the position hasn’t quite finished painting the target on His leaders back but should find a couple of able brush-hands in the deposed Wilkinson and Heatley who’s only way back into the Cabinet is to support a challenger at some point in the future when the numbers add up…

  16. millsy 16

    Well my calls turned out to be wrong. The only one I got right was having Kate Wilkinson lose all her portfolios (by implication). Dont ever ask me for advise on what horse to put your wages on.

    Foss got the boot instead of Parata.
    Nick Smith had DOC under Shipley/Bolger, I cannot really trust him with it again, cannot really trust him with Housing either.

    • bad12 16.1

      Wasn’t the news clip of the Slippery one enlightening, Slippery appears most at ease and loses the voice that slides toward the speech of a 5 year old with undertones of a lithp when doing what He does best,

      Giving it to previously trusted allies is something He was noted and applauded for in His previous guise as a trading floor functionary,(minor), in the International Banking Industry,

      Wonder if this morning mere hours before we all learned of His sacking He gave Phil Heatley His sweetest of smiles as He dispatched the fallen from grace Minister to ‘Siberia’ with no right of return…

    • Anne 16.2

      Maybe your calls were too logical millsy. :)

  17. BeeDee 17

    “Moving tenants from desirable HousingNZ properties so as to free up the land for ‘private speculators’ seems to be the current flavor of this Slippery National Government and we may yet see more of an imperative applied to such tenants to move than has currently been the practice, i will choose not to speculate upon what form of leverage Smith and Bennett might use to move the poorest of the poor located in the State housing portfolio ‘on'”.

    Britomart Flats in Berhampore for instance! Rumours abound in Wellington about demolition of these flats and planned sale to a private developer. It’s a leaky building but the reason being given for moving people out is that the building is an earthquake risk.

    • bad12 17.1

      Aha, i am going to assume that they housed the tenant’s in other HousingNZ properties???, i was told recently of another HousingNZ property that had been vacated by the tenant and immediately sold into the private market for 500 thou,

      i don’t know how true that is, sometimes people pass on such info that later turns out to be untrue presumably for the sheer joy of watching my blood boil,

      The problem being, and in Wellington this is exacerbated by the need to find housing for the City Council tenants currently going through the upgrade of the Council housing stock is that every time they close a block for whatever reason without first having built replacements(a forlorn hope with this lot as Government), the overall housing situation becomes that much more dire and can be seen in the reported 3 fold increase of night-shelter patrons,

      The other major block to get the axe from the HousingNZ portfolio in Wellington was that block of flats up on the Terrace, and i am willing to bet that it’s bowled over and the university aquires the land,

      There’s whole streets in Lower Hutt with boarded up HousingNZ residencies and in Porirua whole blocks were knocked over by the last Labour Government and the land still lies empty,

      This in the middle of a housing affordability crisis in both the ownership and rental markets to say the least is unacceptable and the only ‘good’ to come of the whole mess is to show us all that the ‘market’ has failed in meeting the housing needs of the New Zealand population and building programs as accomplished by previous Governments need be urgently implemented…

  18. Lloyd 18

    Nick is already blaming Councils and the RMA for the high cost of housing. Why?

    No mention of the failure of the market as it is in the interest of every spec builder to build the biggest house possible on any lot, which means the most expensive house for that piece of land. No mention that it will take government to build smaller cheaper houses unless market rules are changed.

    Also no mention of the lack of a capital gains tax means that speculation on houses will continue Meaning that first home buyers are out-bid time and again by ‘investors’, who then gain most benefit by selling the house to another investor in a few years time.

    No mention that increasing numbers of government rental properties would act on the market to lower rents and therefore the profits of private property speculators and help slow house price increases.

  19. peterlepaysan 19

    Gordon Campbell asked what was wrong that reinstating Nick Smith was the answer?

    Any ideas anyone?

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