Reshuffles for Key, Shearer

DEIDRE MUSSEN, TRACY WATKINS AND THE NELSON MAIL
Last updated 10:57 22/01/2013
Nick Smith
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
NICK SMITH: Former ACC minister.
Shane Jones
FAIRFAX NZ
SHANE JONES: Former front bench MP.

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Two senior politicians could be back from the wilderness when Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Shearer reshuffle their leadership teams.

Former Local Government and ACC Minister Nick Smith is expected to rejoin the Cabinet when Key announces his new lineup today, and former front bench MP Shane Jones could make a return for Labour, possibly in the next fortnight.

Key has been signalling Smith's return for some months after insisting late last year the former Cabinet minister had "done his time" after resigning last year for an ethical breach.

He also has to decide on a permanent replacement in the labour portfolio, following Kate Wilkinson's resignation from the role.

A further vacancy has been created after Speaker Lockwood Smith was confirmed as the next high commissioner to London, with Agriculture Minister David Carter tipped as his replacement.

Education Minister Hekia Parata is expected to survive, however, despite a string of blunders in the portfolio.

In the Labour camp, Shearer is likely to make more significant changes.

He is understood to be mulling over the reinstatement of former front bench MP Shane Jones, who stepped down during an inquiry into his dealings with an immigration case while he was a minister in the last Labour government.

KEEP SMITH OUT: GREENS

While Nick Smith's self-imposed 10-month spell in the political sin bin looks set to be over, the Green Party says he shouldn't be allowed back into the Cabinet before the next election.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei said the MP had not shown ''the kind of integrity and responsibility required of a minister''.

''I don't think he should be returned this term.''

''The difficulty for National is that they're clearly struggling to find people to fill ministerial roles. We can see that with the continuation of Hekia Parata as education minister, who's been an unmitigated disaster,'' Turei said.

Speculation about Smith's elevation has included suggestions that he might once again get the local government portfolio, likely to be vacated if Carter becomes Speaker of the House, as expected.

Carter also holds the primary industries portfolio and it's possible that this might be split, with Smith a potential candidate to head the fishing and forestry divisions.

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He is unlikely to get environment back. Key yesterday made a point of praising the incumbent, Selwyn MP Amy Adams, who was elevated last April after Smith resigned.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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