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Upside of dumping

Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013

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Northern News

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MP Mike Sabin says the Cabinet shake-up that saw Northland's sole member Phil Heatley bumped from his portfolio won't affect the region's representation in Wellington.

The Northland MP responded to the Northern News' questions via email while he was in the Hokianga.

"While I felt it was great to have Phil as a Cabinet minister as a fellow MP in Northland, the reality is he is a very well respected and experienced member of our caucus and I am confident that this will still be of significant benefit to both Whangarei and the wider Northland region," he says.

Mr Heatley, the former housing minister was given only a few hours notice before he was dumped from Prime Minister John Key's Cabinet.

Housing affordability has been identified as a top priority for the government but Mr Key says his decision was based on giving others a chance and not poor performance by Mr Heatley.

Mr Sabin says the move should not be seen as a loss of influence for Northland but instead as a gain for Whangarei.

"While there has been a degree of refreshing in the Cabinet we shouldn't forget that Phil has been a very effective minister for four years and an influential member of the National Party team.

"Whangarei will now have more of Phil to itself and Northland will continue to be well served with his experience and dedication to serving the interests of growing our economy and opportunities in this part of the country," he says.

Mr Sabin calls Mr Heatley hard-working and focused on his home constituency.

Mr Heatley's portfolio has been handed to reinstated minister Nick Smith.

Mr Key says he appointed Dr Smith to bring "his trademark energy to housing market and social housing issues".

Also shown the door in the Cabinet reshuffle was former conservation minister Kate Wilkinson.

Winners in the reshuffle were Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, 32, who was promoted to the Cabinet and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, 36, who was given full Cabinet rank.

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