John Key announced five new Cabinet Ministers yesterday from the minor parties. Today, he announced another 23 from the National Party. This makes 28 Ministers.
Bill English will be Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Infrastructure. During the election campaign, the National Party talked a lot about improving our infrastructure: more roads, better electricity supplies, faster internet.
Some of the new ministers will take on jobs that we expected. For example, Tony Ryall was the Minister of Health in the last National government and will be the Minister of Health again. Gerry Brownlee will be Minister of Economic Development and Energy, while Simon Power will be Minister of Justice and Commerce.
Most of the Cabinet ministers have been MPs for a long time but there are two surprises. One is Steven Joyce, a new MP who will be Minister of Transport. This might be a reward for organising the National Partys successful election campaign. The other surprise is Paula Bennett. She has been in Parliament for only three years and is only 39 years old but John Key is so impressed with her that he has given her the job of Minister of Social Development. Social Development includes the biggest government department, WINZ, which needs a lot of tax-payer money. She is also responsible for Child Youth and Family, Student Loans and many more social matters. Paula Bennett is an interesting person because she was a teenage mum with no husband, no job and very little education when she left school. However, she has worked hard, gone to university and done very well in life.
The minor party ministers include Rodney Hide from ACT – he is Minister of Local Government – Heather Roy from ACT, Minister of Consumer Affairs, and Peter Dunne from United. He is Minister of Revenue again, the same job he did in the Labour government. Both Maori Party co-leaders will be ministers Pita Sharples will be Minister of Maori Affairs while Tariana Turia will be Minister of the Community and Voluntary sector. They will be Associate Ministers of Corrections (which means prisons), Health and Education. These are areas where more needs to be done for Maori.
While there are two more Asian MPs in the new government, only one, Pansy Wong, will be a minister. She will be Minister of Ethnic Affairs and Womens Affairs.
The ministers from the minor parties and three of the National Party MPs will be ministers outside Cabinet. This means that they do not attend Cabinet meetings or make decisions about spending in other areas.