Key hints at recall for Smith

22:10, Jan 21 2013

Prime Minister John Key will announce his Cabinet reshuffle today, and has hinted at a likely recall for Nelson MP Nick Smith.

John Key left Antarctica's Scott Base by helicopter yesterday to catch an eight-hour flight on a United States Hercules back to Christchurch, where he arrived at about 5pm.

On Sunday, he said he would work on his ''minor'' Cabinet reshuffle as soon as he returned, including planning to talk to the new Speaker of the House to replace Lockwood Smith.

However, he declined to be drawn on which minister would be chosen for that job, widely speculated to be David Carter, saying there were a number of potential contenders.

This would clear the way for a return to the top table for the Nelson MP, who resigned his ministerial portfolios just days after introducing a local government reform package last year.

Speaking to the Nelson Mail last week, Dr Smith made it clear that he would love to return to the Government's inner circle.

"Anybody involved in politics knows that the real action occurs in the Cabinet room, and I can do best for Nelson, and in terms of my areas of expertise, by being in the Cabinet," he said.

Dr Smith has vast parliamentary and Cabinet experience for a politician of his age. At 48, he has been in Parliament since 1990.

Despite being demoted from sixth to 10th in Prime Minister John Key's reshuffle after the 2010 election, he began the term on a high note, tackling his local government portfolio with gusto.

It all came crashing down a few months later when he was drawn into the Bronwyn Pullar ACC controversy. He resigned from Cabinet last March.