Newsroom Pro's 8 Things: Bridges picks Adams for finance over Joyce; Ardern works from home


In today's email we detail the significance of the resignation of National's "$11.7 billion man".

1. Bridges picks Adams

National Party Leader Simon Bridges confirmed the generational change of leadership this morning by picking Amy Adams as his finance spokeswoman.

Steven Joyce decided yesterday to step down as a list MP after he was told by Bridges he could have the pick of front bench roles, but not the finance role he inherited from Bill English when John Key stepped aside at the end of 2016.

The exit and shuffle marks the end of a successful era for National, whereby a triumvirate of John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce led the party and the Government to three election victories and nine years in Government.

The three complemented each other and formed the core of the "kitchen cabinet" that Key ran, alongside Gerry Brownlee and Murray McCully. MP for Ilam Brownlee is now the only one of the five left. Many expect him to go too before or at the next election, along with list MPs Chris Finlayson, Chris David Carter and Nicky Wagner. English ally and MP Nelson Nick Smith is also seen as being at the end of his career.

2. Who's next on the list?

Retirements of list MPs are much less problematic than electorate MP retirements, which can be politically awkward and expensive. National's next candidates on its list for promotion into Parliament are:

1. Agnes Loheni , who ran in the Mangere electorate and is of Samoan descent,

2. Paulo Garcia , who ran in New Lynn and is a lawyer of Filipino descent,

3. David Hiatt , who ran in Wigram and is a tourism business entrepreneur.

Here is the full list from before the election.

3. The $11.7 bln man bows out

Steven Joyce finally declared time on his political career yesterday, having hung on for longer than many would have thought after Bill English's effective defeat on October 19 last year.

Newsroom's Thomas Coughlan wrote this political obituary of a politician who dominated the backroom of his party but failed to win the affection of his caucus colleagues and large sections of the public.

He admitted defeat only after that lack of popularity was thrust in his face last Tuesday.

He'll be remembered for a bunch of strange things that fail to capture his important role in the Key-led triumvirate.

The public will remember Joyce as the butt of John Oliver's jokes. This is four minutes and 29 seconds of the most fun you'll have in a long time, if you haven't already seen it. Joyce was remarkable gracious and matey over the whole running gag, which did him lot of credit.

Joyce's decision to go hard on the $11.7 billion fiscal black hole that wasn't did him a lot less credit. He pulled Bill English with him into that hole and refused to back out. Here's my analysis on the night of why there was no black hole.

Eventually that decision made Joyce something of a running gag. His decision to brazenly refuse to acknowledge his own mistake rendered his subsequent claims about the Budget position before and after the election simply unreliable. Whenever he made any announcement or comment on the budget position, the first comments by the public were about teaching Joyce to use a spreadsheet.

Bridges did not want to keep Joyce as National's spokesman for plenty of reasons, but one of which was the diminution of his credibility. Joyce also worked with English to deny New Zealand had a productivity problem in the last five years of the National Government, which it patently did.

Joyce said one of his great legacies will be the Government-funded Ultra Fast Broadband network, which is fair given the debacle seen over the Tasman with Australia's National Broadband Network. His other legacy is MBIE. It looks likely it will be kept in its current form, if only because the cost and delays in yet another restructuring have scared the new Government off the prospect for now. The same is true of MPI.

4. Ardern works from home

I'm jealous of Newsroom's Foreign Affairs and Trade Editor Sam Sachdeva, who is enjoying a warm and sunny reception for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on her trip around the Pacific.

Meanwhile, a southerly blew through Wellington this morning...

Sam reports today that Ardern described Niue as her second home, having visited High Commissioner (and father) Ross Ardern on the island four times previously.

She was particularly popular with a group of school children who performed for her party and asked her questions.

She gamely answered the array thrown at her, including the school subject most useful for her current job - "everything I did in school has helped me," she diplomatically replied - and a question about whether she felt "the pressure to work harder than men".

"I don't feel the pressure to work harder than men, I just do," she said, bringing down the house.

See Sam's full report here on Newsroom Pro, where it was published first.

5. Briefly in the political economy...

Go for Zero - New Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton has published a report titled Stepping stones to Paris and beyond that supported the Government's plan to launch a UK style independent Climate Commission. Upton said moves to deal with climate change should be done in a structured way that provided certainty for businesses and investors . “We have to break out of the stop-go, on-again, off-again approach to tackling such a pressing long term problem," he said.

Quake detectives - The State Services Commission today announced it would investigate whether Southern Response and one of its contractors may have breached the State Services Standards of Integrity and Conduct. The announcement came after Newshub's Patrick Gower reported taxpayer-funded investigators for Southern Response had spied on earthquake damage claimants.

6. Briefly in the global political economy...

Lonely guy - White House Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn resigned after Donald Trump went ahead with steel and aluminium tariffs that Cohn opposed. (CNBC)

Ready to talk? - South Korea said North Korea had expressed a willingness to negotiate directly with the United States about giving up its nuclear weapons if it could be guaranteed not to be attacked by the United States and South Korea. (New York Times)

7. One fun thing...

There is a twitter account called Hold My Beer and this latest short video titled "Hold my beer while I fly my homemade jet pack" is a guaranteed guffaw.

8. Today's political links

These are available with the morning subscriber email

(Corrected Chris to David in fourth paragraph)