English the star performer in Parliament's class of 2013

19:58, Dec 01 2013

It is that time of year again that politicians dread - the annual Trans Tasman roll call that scores MPs on their performance for the year.

The ninth annual roll call, judged by Trans Tasman editors and Wellington insiders, has seen some big movers - both up and down - including new Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Some backbenchers should be rethinking their futures after the political newsletter delivered its verdict on their performance - or lack of one.

Some ministers and frontbench MPs have also been taken down a peg or two after being judged harshly.

But others, like Education Minister Hekia Parata, will be relieved that their scores improved from last year.

The star performer, however, is Finance Minister Bill English - he won the title of politician of the year. The judges said it was no contest.


Honours for lowest ranked MP were shared by former NZ First MP Brendan Horan, now an independent MP, Labour MP Rajen Prasad and ACT leader John Banks, on 1 point apiece.

Of Mr Horan the judges said: "His political career is just ticking off the days to the election. Makes a token effort."

Of Mr Banks, the judges noted that his score was up from zero last year. But they said he remained a huge political liability for National.

Mr Prasad had only "put out one press release this year and it was a joint one".

The 2013 roll call is being published by Trans Tasman today. Some highlights are:

Prime Minister John Key: Still remarkably popular for a second term PM, but not as bouncy and spontaneous as he was. 8.5/10

Mr English: Politician of the Year: He is restoring the Crown Accounts to surplus, getting the economy "set to fly" and he does more than his fair share of the heavy lifting on policy.

"He and John Key make a formidable team, with English's intellectual grunt complementing Key's instinctive political feel." 9/10

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee: Being responsible for rebuilding a quake-stricken city would severely test anyone. Frustration showed through as he fielded EQC blunders and dealt with the shortcomings of cumbersome bureaucracies. 7/10

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce: If it's too hard for anyone else, give it to Joyce and he'll fix it. 7.5/10

Education Minister Hekia Parata: Looked a bit more comfortable in Parliament, but it would have been hard not to improve on last year's performance. 5/10

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy: "Leaden delivery, leaden performance. Too often appears to be a mouthpiece for his officials, it would be good if he showed he was capable of saying something he had thought of himself." He drops from 5 to 4 .

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne: "Lost his ministerial portfolio and, for a while, his party as well after some serious brain fades." His score fell from 6.5 to 4 .

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples: "The fire has gone out. Hung on to the Maori Party co-leadership for too long and hasn't tackled tough issues facing his department. Worthy ambitions for Maori, he's done his bit and it's time to go." 3/10

Speaker David Carter: "Rocky road when he took the Speaker's chair but he's getting on top of it and winning respect in the House. Opposition worked him over in the beginning but he came through it and says he's enjoying the job. Carter has the makings of another very good Speaker from National's ranks." 7/10

National MP Katrina Shanks: Fell from 4 to 3.5 . "Never had much chance to show her talent but didn't try very hard, and now she's retiring. Easily forgotten."

National MP Paul Foster-Bell: Newcomer to Parliament after the departure of Jackie Blue. Rated by many, yet to show why. 3/10

Labour leader David Cunliffe: "Has the potential to be the next PM, but he will only get the one shot. Caucus has no choice but to get behind him. The great fear is he could still be an accident waiting to happen." 7.5/10

Labour MP Shane Jones: Leadership challenge raised his profile but there's no follow up." 5/10

Former Labour leader David Shearer: "Was put out of his misery as leader. Really up to him now to make something of his political career." 3/10

Labour MP Trevor Mallard: Should be given more to do. Many in Labour want him gone. They will lose. He'll be back and he's determined to be Speaker. 4.5/10

Labour finance spokesman David Parker: Experienced, articulate and good-humoured his biggest challenge will be convincing business a Labour/Green government would not harm the economy. 7/10

Labour MP Grant Robertson: Weak leadership campaign - failure has not led to any bitterness. One of Parliament's best speakers needs to develop some policy and attack points to take on Joyce more. 6/10

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman: "Still one of the best performers in Parliament. Must ensure those who say they vote Green actually vote, and reassure business about a Green-influenced government. Assertive, but relentlessly negative and will be tough in a coalition." 7/10

NZ First leader Winston Peters: "Still the best attack MP in Parliament but he's starting to suffer from grumpy old man syndrome." 7/10

33 of National's 59 MPs achieved a score of 5 or more - 32 of them managed a higher score this year, while 17 of them went down. Ten kept the same score as last year.

For Labour 14 of their 33 MPs scored 5 or higher - 18 improved, while seven went down. Six were unchanged. Of the 14 Green MPs, six scored 5 or higher, six scored higher than last year and two went down. Of NZ First's seven MPs, two scored 5 or more, three improved, two saw their score fall, while two were unchanged.