Cabinet promotion for Woodhouse

Michael Woodhouse.
Michael Woodhouse.
Dunedin MP Michael Woodhouse has continued his rise up the ranks, after Prime Minister John Key confirmed the list MP would become a full member of Cabinet.

Mr Woodhouse, who was appointed as a Minister outside Cabinet a year ago today, will remain Minister of Immigration, Veterans' Affairs and Associate Transport Minister and will replace in Cabinet Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain, who will retire at the election later this year.

Since becoming an MP, Mr Woodhouse has steadily progressed up the ranks of National and became chief whip before being appointed a minister.

He is the first National Party MP to become a minister while living in Dunedin.

Mr Woodhouse said in an interview it was a big year ahead for him and he was ''delighted'' to keep his current roles as there was some unfinished work for him, particularly in veterans' rights.

''It's business as usual, but it's a huge privilege to be at the top table.''

Mr Woodhouse emphasised that although he was a full Cabinet minister, he and his family remained domiciled in Dunedin.

''I am committed to Dunedin and Otago and will be a strong advocate for the region around the table. I now see all Cabinet papers, rather than those just relating to my portfolios,'' he said.

Replacing Mr Tremain as Internal Affairs Minister is Peter Dunne, who was stood down last year after allegations he leaked documents to a journalist.

Mr Dunne will also become Associate Health Minister and Associate Conservation Minister. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett will pick up the role of Local Government Minister, along with her current roles.

The new Minister outside Cabinet is Peseta Sam Lotu-Liga, who will become Minister of Pacific Island Affairs and Associate Local Government Minister. Mr Key said he was pleased to welcome Mr Dunne back as a minister.

''We have worked together well in the past and United Future continues to be a valued partner in government.

''While 2013 brought its challenges, both Peter and I start this election year looking forward, not back.''

In a separate announcement, Mr Key outlined the parties he believed National could work with following this year's general election.

They were Act New Zealand, the Maori Party and United Future.

''I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group,'' he said.

Act MP John Banks will not stand for re-election in Epsom, because he is standing trial in Auckland later this year for allegedly knowingly filing a false election return from his failed mayoral campaign.

One of Act's major contributors and former MP John Boscawen is standing as party leader and seeking the Epsom nomination, against younger candidates. Mr Key said he could work with Mr Boscawen as a ''totally predictable'' politician.

National has traditionally come to an agreement with Act in Epsom and Mr Dunne in Ohariu.

On current polling, the Maori Party will have only one MP following the election and the Conservatives, unless a deal can be arranged in an Eastern Auckland electorate, may struggle to get into Parliament.

In his announcement, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis there was insufficient common ground to achieve a ''stable and successful working relationship''.

A post-election working relationship with New Zealand First was unlikely but a possibility, he said.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the party was making its position clear from the outset: it would not be part of any pre-election discussions or arrangements aimed at subverting the democratic process.

''We thought MMP would stop the gerrymandering and `old boys' arrangements of the past but some political parties keep manipulating the political process for their own ends instead of trusting the voters,'' he said.

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