Ministers sworn in, a cuppa, then back to work

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2011
Paula Bennett
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ

MPS ALL EARS: Paula Bennett, Hekia Parata and Judith Collins during the swearing in of the new Cabinet.

Paula Bennett
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
MPS ALL EARS: Paula Bennett, Hekia Parata and Judith Collins during the swearing in of the new Cabinet.

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They arrived as MPs on big green buses, but left as ministers of the Crown in chauffeur-driven BMWs.

The 28 ministers of John Key's second Government got an early taste of the baubles of office when they were sworn in at Government House yesterday.

When the tea cups were cleared away, however, it was back to work at the Beehive, with the time frame for partial asset sales among items on the agenda at Mr Key's first Cabinet meeting in charge of his new executive.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae told the ministers they had an "awesome responsibility in uncertain times".

First-time ministers Amy Adams – who went straight into the Cabinet ranked 20 – Chris Tremain, Jo Goodhew and Chester Borrows were all conferred the title "honourable".

Mr Key said he offered ministers an "encouraging message as opposed to a threatening one".

"The responsibility you feel as a minister is intense – I can tell you that from personal experience – and people want to do well, that's why they came into Parliament," he said.

"They have in front of them some very large tasks, and I don't think any of them are under any illusion about the amount of work they will have to complete over the next three years."

Before yesterday's meeting, Mr Key said the Cabinet would consider some "early advice" on the so-called mixed-ownership model that is planned for four energy companies.

The advice was on timing and the work programme that was required to carry out the sales, he said. "We won't be making any further decisions on that today, but there is some preliminary advice."

It is expected that the speech from the throne, to be delivered next week by the governor-general after the opening of the new Parliament, will include more details about which asset will be the first to be floated for sale and when it will happen.

Mr Key said yesterday he expected one asset could be sold down by the end of next year.

There is also expected to be more in the speech on state-sector reform, including a new measure for front line performance.

Mr Key wished new Labour leader David Shearer all the best in what was a "thankless" job as leader of the Opposition.

Mr Shearer had been "quite quiet" as an MP so it was difficult to tell how he might perform.

However, he rejected Mr Shearer's call to widen a ministerial group on poverty to all MPs.

"I'm more than happy for David Shearer to be a part of the ministerial committee if he's happy to give the Government confidence and supply."

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