There are a number of MPs potentially in line to become a minister, and depending on how long it takes for John Key to work out that useless ministers need the arse there might be a few promotions next year.
David Carter’s coronation as speaker means that Nick Smith can be rehabilitated back into caucus after getting caught out lying about some sordid little personal details. That’s if someone doesn’t upset things and demonstrate to John Key his one seat majority is an one seat majority so he is pretty rooted if he tries to bully MPs who are willing to sit on the cross benches.
Nick is probably the most capable outside the ministry and having done time he could easily be rehabilitated into a difficult portfolio like Education.
The word in Wellington is that after Nick gets promoted Nikki Kaye is next in line. She has laid off the booze for long enough to be considered, though this would be a bold move as the rest of the back bench regard her as a vacuous airhead with no real world experience or particular talent except greasing those who make decisions. The one seat majority means passed over and pissed off MPs could cause Key trouble if he promotes Nikki.
Michael Woodhouse has been an effective whip although widely disrespected in Dunedin for spending too much time with his family and not enough working when he goes home. This blog is clear that it supports MPs making this kind of decision as they are parents first, and MPs second and this should not be held against Michael. National has a history of promoting whips so he is a reasonable bet.
Junior Whip Louise Upston may be promoted but it would be surprising to see her leapfrog the senior whip. Louise would be a safe pair of hands in any portfolio but would be an equally good senior whip if Michael is promoted.
Todd McClay and Sam Lotu-Iiga are also contenders and both have done well in their select committee roles. The chatter is not so much about them as it is about the top brass deciding to promote Nikki so they are probably outsiders.