Analysis: On the basis New Zealand First is needed after special votes have been counted, it’s highly likely Winston Peters will be offered deputy prime minister.
It’s not a role Act leader David Seymour feels strongly about. He’d rather forgo that for other wins, and much of the discussion between him and National leader Christopher Luxon to date will have concentrated on policy concessions.
There are three people who will likely have been considered for Speaker of the House but only one of them is expected to accept it.
Peters and Judith Collins will be more interested in ministerial portfolios. Gerry Brownlee, however, would not only be respected by the most MPs, but also has the greatest understanding of the House and legislative process.
Luxon has already indicated he wants to be in an overseer role and not be bogged down by ministries, so is unlikely to take anything other than the National Security and Intelligence portfolio.
The only confirmed job is Nicola Willis as Finance Minister, which will be coupled with social investment, a portfolio championed by her former boss Sir Bill English.
National’s campaign chair and one of its better performing MPs, Chris Bishop, will inevitably take on a sizeable workload. He’ll almost certainly get housing, infrastructure, RMA reform, and he’s the logical leader of the house for the next term.
Though Louise Upston didn’t get any real hits on Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni while in Opposition, she seems likely to hold onto it in government unless Act fights for it, which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Act MP Karen Chhour, who grew up in the Child, Youth and Family system (now Oranga Tamariki) is a good bet to take on that portfolio to bring some real-life experience to it – something Luxon values.
Former police officer Mark Mitchell should land both the police and corrections portfolio – Luxon said he’d be police minister during the campaign trail but then retracted it the week after the election, but again his former experience suggests he’s probably best placed to take it on.
Experience should win in health, with Doctor Shane Reti the obvious choice for that ministerial portfolio and given Act deputy leader Brooke van Velden’s keen interest, she’d make a strong contender for his associate.
It’s hard to imagine Peters not wanting foreign affairs and the ministry certainly wouldn’t be unhappy about that, given its good working relationship with him last time round.
During the 2017-2020 term Peters had his NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau in an under-secretary role and the travel was split between the pair.
For the most part Peters looked after the Pacific, Europe, and the UK, and Tabuteau concentrated on the Middle East, South America, and Asia.
National’s Todd McClay would like both foreign affairs and trade, but perhaps a more sensible solution is to make McClay associate foreign affairs and have him do the travel Peters is less inclined to want to do.
McClay and Peters have a friendly working relationship so it would be a workable duo.
In addition to that, McClay could carry on with trade, agriculture, and biosecurity, which seem to function well as a trio as Labour’s Damien O’Connor has proven in the past term.
Luxon will almost certainly look to fold some ministries into others to make room for the new ones he created during the past year. Child poverty reduction, for example, could fall under social development and prevention of family and sexual violence could come back under justice.
It wouldn’t be impossible to see Māori Development and Māori Crown Relations be grouped together and overseen by Tama Potaka.
Though Erica Stanford made the rookie error of telling journalists after the election that she wanted education and had “proven over the past two years” that she had a “good grip” on the portfolio, it’s not hard to imagine Seymour getting it.
It’s an area Seymour cares deeply about, as does Luxon, and the pair have a good working relationship that could see them push for some real changes there.
Stanford could easily be an associate and would almost certainly get the immigration portfolio, an area she has stood out in during opposition.
Seen as an up-and-comer with smarts, Stanford could be given a challenge of a new area too as a way of easing the blow of not getting education.
Climate and environment are real problem areas for National and it’s not entirely clear what they’ll do with either, but Stanford could be the right person to step up and take them on.
It seems likely Simeon Brown will be transport minister and it would make sense to give him the Auckland portfolio as well. Local government could even be grouped in with those two as well, given the city and regional deals National is looking to pursue.
Experience should win in health, with Doctor Shane Reti the obvious choice for that ministerial portfolio, and given Act deputy leader Brooke van Velden’s keen interest, she’d make a strong contender for his associate.
Melissa Lee has performed well in broadcasting and has the background to hold it in government and Paul Goldsmith seems a likely winner of workplace relations.
Justice gets a little bit trickier. It’s unclear if Goldsmith would want it and if they’re looking for a lawyer to do the job then Chris Penk could make sense.
Judith Collins has done excellent work in the Digital Economy and Research, Science and Innovation space and has received widespread kudos from her party for it.
She’ll be keen to hold onto it in government and as the best-equipped lawyer she could well end up Attorney General as well.
If National had got, or does get, list-only candidate James Christmas in the caucus after special votes then he’d be the safe bet for Attorney General and Treaty Negotiations Minister, but the chances of that happening are looking slim.
That leaves a gaping hole of what to do about the Treaty role, and it’s understood to be causing a bit of a headache, like the climate portfolio.
Other roles that appear straightforward to fill are Matt Doocey as the new Mental Health Minister and Andrew Bayly for revenue.
Seymour would be keen for a regulatory reform role, and commerce and consumer affairs could be an easy one to pass on to either Act or New Zealand First.
Both regional development and forestry would be areas New Zealand First, specifically Shane Jones, would be eyeing up.
You’d expect to see both minor parties also mop up a fair few of the associate roles and both Seymour and Jones would be keen for associate finance positions to keep tabs on the Budget process.
There are many other portfolios that would still need to be distributed but are difficult to speculate on until final numbers are through and it’s clear how much leverage each of the parties has.
Of course, if National and Act can pull together a comfortable majority on their own, this will significantly alter the course of the next government, but that won’t be revealed for another week.