Dunedin MP climbs rankings

Dunedin National list MP Michael Woodhouse has been restored to favour, being named shadow finance minister yesterday by party leader Judith Collins.

Mr Woodhouse, who lost the role of health spokesman and was demoted when Ms Collins became leader shortly before the election, is now ranked fourth in the Opposition team and adds the portfolio of transport to his finance role.

"I’m very pleased and really excited," Mr Woodhouse said.

"One door closes but another opens, and this is a really big opportunity and challenge, to be able to launch into a couple of areas I am really interested in."

National has taken the unusual move of splitting finance into two roles, third-ranked Port Waikato MP Andrew Bayly becoming shadow treasurer.

The division of roles mirrors what Australia does, and a similar situation existed in the 1990s when Bill Birch was National’s finance minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters the treasurer.

Mr Woodhouse, a one-time revenue minister and associate finance spokesman, had been asked to focus on government debt levels and expenditure, and lead a team of MPs in related portfolios.

Michael Woodhouse. Photo: ODT files
Michael Woodhouse. Photo: ODT files

"Andrew and I are very compatible and we won’t stand on strict boundaries," Mr Woodhouse said.

"The other area where we will work interchangeably is transport, because he also has infrastructure and there is a lot of interoperability between the two."

Mr Woodhouse said he felt comfortable debating Auckland transport issues from Dunedin, and noted that Auckland MP Christopher Luxon and King Country MP Barbara Kuriger had been named his associates to provide urban and regional perspectives.

All National MPs met Ms Collins to discuss their preferred roles before she allocated portfolios.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, ranked 18th, said she had told her leader she wanted to retain conservation and be nominated as assistant speaker.

She said yesterday she was delighted to have received exactly what she had asked for.

"I’m a very happy person at the moment," Mrs Dean said.

"As assistant speaker you are a servant of the House and so it has a different focus to being a portfolio spokesperson.

"I have chaired a couple of select committees, it was an environment I enjoyed, this opportunity came up and I like a challenge."

New Southland MP Joseph Mooney was named treaty negotiations spokesman, and given associate roles in defence and tourism.

"With both Queenstown and Te Anau here, tourism is a big part of my electorate and I’m really looking forward to contributing something useful in that portfolio," he said.

A former army reservist, defence was a role he had a personal connection with, he said.

He also had a long-term interest in treaty settlements, Mr Mooney said.

Invercargill MP and former SIT chief executive Penny Simmonds was, unsurprisingly, named spokeswoman for tertiary education.

Ms Simmonds also was given associate roles in agriculture and disability issues.

She could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Former finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith plunged down the party ranks to 12th and was named education spokesman.

Former leader Simon Bridges was ranked seventh and given justice and three other portfolios.

The man who was briefly leader after Mr Bridges, Todd Muller, dropped to 19th and was named trade and internal affairs spokesman.

On Tuesday, Shane Reti was confirmed as Ms Collins deputy.

Ms Collins said she had deliberately not ranked the party’s new MPs, and they all started as equals in National’s caucus.

Speaking out

Southern MPs’ rankings and roles.

  • Michael Woodhouse (ranked 4): Finance, transport, deputy shadow leader of the House.
  • Jacqui Dean (18): Conservation, nominated as assistant speaker.
  • Joseph Mooney: Treaty negotiations, associate defence, associate tourism.
  • Penny Simmonds: Tertiary education, associate agriculture, associate disability issues.


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