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Who would replace Bill?

Written By: - Date published: 11:49 am, September 29th, 2009 - 35 comments
Categories: bill english, national/act government, uncategorized - Tags:

There’s a grim irony to Bill English’s career. Despite being regarded as competent and having a Cullen-like role as the heavy-lifter in this government, he has also been at the centre of the worst National screw-ups of the last decade.

As Minister of Revenue, he was heavily involved in the sale of Wellington Airport, which drove the final nail into the coffin of the last National Government. He was forced into the leadership as National faced certain defeat in 2002 and delivered a stunner as National’s base deserted him – visually symbolised by an old mate of his beating the crap out of him (but being careful not to knock him out) in the Fight for Life. In 2008, he single-handedly cost National 5% in the polls and forced it into promises that still constrain it in government when he drunkenly let slip the secret agenda to a tape recorder wielding stranger at a cocktail evening.

Now, his unrepentant, arrogant behaviour over his housing rort has made him a liability to Key. The question is: who could replace him?

Not Nick Smith, remember last time they made him deputy? Nick doesn’t. Appointing Brownlee would be so laughable they might as well make him Minister of Maori Affairs as well. Most of the rest are too inexperienced, too mad, too dumb, too lazy, or a combination of the four. 

I reckon there are two choices. Steven Joyce and Simon Power.

Joyce is tight with Key and they’re ideologically similar. He would be big business’s choice. But he’s actually been a bit of a failure as a minister, particularly with regard to the flagship broadband programme. As the Telecommunications Review notes: “He’s got a 10-year time-frame and he’s already behind schedule”. Key needs someone capable of holding his hand and handling the complex business of governing while he’s off clowning around. Joyce isn’t that man. Caucus may not want to give Key his best buddy as his deputy; they would prefer a counter-weight instead.

Power is from the ‘moderate’ faction in National, a depressingly small faction these days. Don’t get me wrong, moderate’s a relative term. Power is fiercely pro-US – it was his comments that a National government would follow the United States into war ‘”wherever, whenever” that killed off his leadership hopes. But he stands in contrast to other ministers in that he doesn’t see every issue as a chance to pay off big business. As Associate Finance Minister, he is placed to step into English’s shoes in that role. He has the brains and ability to be the heavy-lifter to Key’s light-weight.

Bill can stay in the background, helping out the Tolleys, Bennetts, and the other ministers who need to take off their socks to count to 17. But it’s getting harder by the day to see how he can stay on as Deputy PM.

35 comments on “Who would replace Bill? ”

  1. outofbed 1

    Wouldn’t the best thing be for him not to be replaced?
    A lame duck deputy/finance Minister would be a great target.
    A gift that kept on giving
    On another note If he is not taking anymore rorted dosh from the taxpayer
    How is he now going to keep his house clean?

  2. Bennet!! (I’d probably pick Joyce though)

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    I’d guess Power, Joyce is too much of an unknown and I suspect the public like to have some idea of who their finance minister is.

  4. Craig Glen Eden 4

    Power is not bright he is a plodder. While he appears to be solid in this National cabinet it is only because the others are so useless. Power cant think on his feet and is easily ruffled when under pressure. They have no one really, Bill will stay unless the polls turn in Labour’s favor then I think they will go with Joyce but they will try to ride this out.

  5. lprent 5

    …helping out the Tolleys, Bennetts, and the other ministers who need to take off their socks to count to 17…

    Ummm not really. That would involve them looking down. They might see those fingers that they are busy stomping on. So far you’d have to say that this government seems to be intent on making sure that they block strugglers from having opportunities.

    Cutting adult training opportunities is plainly stupid. As is pushing costs from those incurring the costs eg polluters and pre-superannuiants to their children and grandchildren.

    But they really are such a inexperienced lot. Even when they have experience, like Tony Ryall, they seem to go out of their way to look as if they aren’t.

  6. felix 6

    John Key has, in the past, had some very promising things to say about a certain Melissa Lee’s prospects for the future. Could she be on his shortlist?

    We know she has TV skills, which Key values very highly. Was this part of the (rumoured) deal Key made with her over her keeping quiet about his backing away from her train wreck of a campaign in Mt Albert, perhaps?

  7. BLiP 7

    WeMissYa Lee, Basher Bennett, Chopper Tolley, Crusher Collins and Calamity Kate could job share.

  8. Lew 8

    Joyce is a noob. He needs to earn his chops first – it looks like he will, but he hasn’t yet.

    Collins, Groser and Ryall seem most likely to me, as well as Power.


    • Daveo 8.1

      Groser? I thought you were some kind of insider, Lew. He’s possibly the most unpopular man in cabinet.

      • Lew 8.1.1

        Insider? Hell no.

        Perhaps foolishly, I’m basing that pick on competence.


        • George D

          Tony Ryall? It’d be hilarious to see him waving his finger around and shouting and barking in the house as Deputy PM.

          Why’s Groser so hated? I know why I dislike him, but these probably aren’t the same reasons as the National caucus.

  9. Ianmac 9

    How about Pansy Wong? A clever placement covering women, and Asians and as such probably obedient. 🙂

  10. Clarke 10

    Joyce seems to have a reputation for being smart, but it’s not at all evident from his portfolios. It’s clear in both Transport and Telecommunications that he has no real vision, other than the usual reflexive privatisation and business sector handouts. He’s been completely incapable of articulating a coherent picture of how NZ will be a better place with him making decisions in these two key areas, despite the fact that he’s already been handed the Telecom separation stuff on a plate.

    So he simply doesn’t look credible as a Finance Minister. Leaving aside the usual problems for a government newbie, he looks more like a moderately successful middle manager who’s been promoted beyond his level of competence.

    None of which should stop his meteoric rise through Cabinet.

    • aj 10.1

      “Joyce seems to have a reputation for being smart, but it’s not at all evident from his portfolios”

      I agree, take cell phones, hasn’t he exempted GPS navigators, and cell phones which are being used as mp3 players? as long as ‘minimal’ use is made of them? WTF!

      You can’t tell me using either of those devices are less distracting than a cell phone!

  11. sk 11

    There is no one in cabinet who could take the finance portfolio. As this thread reveals, NACT is very light in terms of raw talent / experience. There is no alternative to Bill English. Which makes John Key’s unavailability on this issue inexplicable. . . At some point he is going to have to stand by Bill English in public, and take the negative consequences. Because the alternative of losing him as finance minister is much worse . . . .

  12. felix 12

    Perhaps we’re all missing the obvious.

    Think about it – who would be the VERY FIRST choice of a narcissistic chap like Key, who idolises Muldoon?

  13. gobsmacked 13

    Dame Ruth Richardson (by appointment)

    Some boring lefties will protest that she is not even an MP, and one or two brave commentators might nervously suggest that it is “not a good look”, but these critics will be dismissed as “negative”, because democracy is just “a beltway issue”, and all that matters is “what works”.

  14. tc 14

    They may as well dig up Muldoon and stick the Bones in a box next to JK……at least it’ll be a gaff free zone.
    Seriously my vote’s on nothing happening…..they’ll tough it out as there’s no alternative and it aligns with the arrogance and scant regard.
    More recipes for a single term.

  15. George D 15

    I raise you a Sir Roger Douglas.

    Captcha: possibility. Never rule it out.

  16. rod 16

    Just leave the Dipton Dipstick alone. There’s plenty of mileage there yet!

  17. Deemac 17

    Jim Mora obediently wheeled out DPF on his ludicrous panel programme on RadioNZ this arvo to defend English and smear the Greens. Desperate stuff.

  18. mike 18

    Bill will still be finance Minister well after 2011.

    You guys best fuss over who’s going to replace Mr Goff as the hapless leader of the once proud labour party. Latest poll had him at 9% if he keeps storming up in the polls he’ll crack 12% by 2011..

    [actually, Goff is gaining nearly a percent a month. If he keeps it up, by 2011 he would gain another 25% to be on 34%. Key is on 50%, if he lost another 25% to Goff, Goff would be kicking his arse… at this rate]

  19. My prediction is they will try to ride this one out, partly out of arrogance, partly out of a lack of options. But this will cause an ongoing festering that will only cost them and eventually, too late, they’ll be forced to do the right thing.

    When the cost of carrying English gets too great Key will go for Collins, the perfect bullying sycophantic side-kick. It will also provide a gender mirroring of the Goff-King dyad which they’ll hope will neutralize gender voting just like they hoped installing Shipley would do. But like Shipley it’ll be a false hope 🙂

    • Tigger 19.1

      Collins is known as a back stabber and very ambitious so she’ll be looking to make this a reality.

      Unfortunately for her she is (a) not well liked by the public and (b) not particularly competent. She’s seen as cold and hard. And while that would work if she was also respected for her brain, she’s not.

  20. To expand on my comment earlier today:

    First I think they are going to try and ride it out, unless he puts his foot in it in an additional and significantly worse manner, I can’t really see him going.

    But if he did I think it would be Joyce, not because he would make a good Minister of Finance, but because he is a bloody good operator, and I’d pick Key would really like him as his right hand man, who would be quite happy to let Key write most of the policy, and put his own face to it.

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