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New Zealand PM looks for new thinking, energy in Cabinet reshuffle


10:34, January 22, 2013

WELLINGTON, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Tuesday announced the promotion of three new faces to his ministerial line-up in a bid to bring "fresh energy and ideas" to his second-term administration.

The reshuffle was triggered by the departure of New Zealand Parliament Speaker Lockwood Smith, who takes up the post of High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and his replacement by David Carter, who will relinquish his ministerial portfolios of local government and primary industries.

"I have taken the opportunity presented by the change of speaker to look at the Cabinet line-up as a whole, in the context of the government's priorities," Key said in a statement announcing the new line-up.

"As we begin a new year I am optimistic about the progress we can make, while being mindful of the challenges created, in particular, by the uncertain international economic environment," he said.

"New Zealanders expect their elected government to get on, and not only do what it has promised to do, but to do so with a sense of urgency and purpose, with real energy and new thinking along the way."

Two other ministers leaving the Cabinet were Minister of Housing and Energy Resources Phil Heatley and Conservation and Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson.

Both ministers have been involved in controversies and charged with implementing contentious policies, with Wilkinson resigning her labor portfolio in November last year when a Royal Commission report on the Pike River coal mine explosions that killed 29 men in 2010 listed failings by the Labour Department in the lead up to the disaster.

"I have made the judgment that it is time for fresh energy and ideas, and for other members of our talented 59-strong caucus to be given an opportunity," said Key.

The most controversial new appointment was the return of Nick Smith to the Cabinet, taking on the housing and conservation portfolios.

Smith resigned from the Cabinet in March last year after it was revealed he had inappropriately supported a friend's claim for compensation to the government's Accident Compensation Commission.

Key said Smith would "bring his trademark energy to housing market and social housing issues, which are of real public interest."

The other new appointments were Nikki Kaye as Minister for Food Safety, Youth Affairs and Civil Defence and Michael Woodhouse, serving outside Cabinet, as Immigration and Veterans Affairs Minister.

Consumer Affairs Minister Simon Bridges would also move into the Cabinet and take on the labor and energy and resources portfolios.

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy would pick up the primary industries portfolio to be vacated by David Carter, while Civil Defence and Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain would be appointed Local Government Minister.

The resignations of Carter, Heatley and Wilkinson would take effect on Jan. 29, and all the other changes would take effect on Jan. 31.

Key's center-right National Party-led administration first came to power in 2008 and was re-elected in November 2011 for a maximum three-year term.

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