Who should take Nick Smith’s Portfolios?

Nick Smith left two important portfolios. Environment and Local Government. Also Climate Change.

Local Government

Local Government is not that difficult as just about everyone hates councils, and Nick was going to rinse them in a highly popular move that stopped them wasting money on dumb stuff and reigned in their borrowing. The problem is not many in cabinet are interested in Local Government as it is the minor leagues.

Nathan Guy has a background in Local Government, but there is concerns he is an administrator not a leader, and a combination of patch protecting local body representatives and Sir Humphrey’s might slow down reform under Nathan’s watch.

Gerry Brownlee currently has the portfolio on a temporary basis but is known for dodging work as much as salads, so can be expected to pass it on to someone else asap, Unless someone can make Local Government look like a nice meat pie then he will pounce on it with vigour.

From outside of cabinet Chris Tremain comes with a good reputation for getting things done and taking people with him at the same time. Has a good strategic brain and is willing to front foot issues, as well as being in the thick of amalgamation in Hawkes Bay, where small minded halfwits on councils don’t want to lose their income stream. Could sell the policy well.

Environment

This is a much more nuanced portfolio that requires someone with detailed knowledge built up over many years, as well as the relationships with lots of angry greenies who have given up hugging trees to bash politicians. The nuance factor also causes problems, as a number of ministers, especially those from the South Island, wouldn’t know a nuance until it snuck up behind them and whacked them with a baseball bat.

Disrupting the current cabinet would not be ideal, so those outside cabinet might be a better bet.

Chris Finlayson is currently the placeholder minister, and will likely be adept in most areas except stakeholder management. Known for his understandable dislike of morons, in an area heavily populated by stakeholder morons Chris might be better taking on another portfolio.

Chris Tremain doesn’t have a background in the Environment but is known to be concerned about water quality and is exceptionally good with stakeholders so is worth a look.

Chester Borrows doesn’t really fit this portfolio, nor does Maurice Williamson. Williamson has an abiding belief that greenies are judder bars in the road toward progress.

Those not currently ministers who have green credentials include Nikki Kaye, Louise Upston and Nicky Wagner. Nikki Kaye is probably too much of a light weight to take on a portfolio where attention to detail and mastery of information is important or you will get stitched up by your department. There is of course the slight stench of Boag around Nikki Kaye.

Louise would have no trouble dealing with the detail and work load, and has been adept in negotiating difficult environmental issues in her electorate. May not have the depth of stakeholder relationships required, but would build them quickly.

Nicky Wagner has the relationships with the tree huggers, NGOs and other groups and the years of detailed learning required to be able to talk to them. Not in favour with the McCully clique which is ten points in her favour in my eyes, but this may count against perhaps the best placed MP to deal with the portfolio.

Climate Change

I have well known views on manbearpig and thinks it is a portfolio that should be abolished, or if not abolished given to a man with a gay ute.


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