Making room in the Ministry, Foss goes
By Richard Harman (author)
You have to feel for Craig Foss.
For what seems like months now he will have been reading political commentators say that he would be likely for demotion from his Ministerial position in the next reshuffle.
Maybe that was true and is one of the “variety of reasons” that saw him announce his retirement yesterday.
As Associate Minister of Transport with a responsibility for road safety and the Minister of Statistics outside Cabinet he was hardly a high profile Minister.
But though he may not have had a high profile publicly, as Minister of Statistics he played a critical role in the delivery of the Government’s Social investment programme.
Only three weeks ago he shared the stage with Bill English at one of English’s “Data Hui” in the Beehive where NGOs and iwi are brought face to face with Statistics and other Government officials who hold the data necessary to drive the investment programme.
Foss offered an enthusiasm for statistics that was unusual.
He talked about the “magic” of statistics and how data could empower.
“Statistics has the power to inform us and to enhance so many areas of our lives,” he said.
“Statistics and data can help us strengthen, help us grow, help us protect our families, our whanau and our communities.”
His resignation is a reminder of what a brutal process politics can be.
But he has also opened the way for another Minister appointed outside the Cabinet.
Along with the resignations of John Key, Hekia Parata and Sam Lotu Iiga that would seem to open up to four positions in and out of the Cabinet.
There is still the possibility of more resignations before Sunday and even a possible demotion.
Alfred Ngaro is certain to get one of the four vacancies to become Minister of Pacific Island Affairs replacing Lotu Iiga.
Just how many of the Ministerial positions will be open in Cabinet is another matter.
Obviously, Key's resignation opens up one slot. Paul Goldsmith would be the logical next person to move up from the outer Ministry to the Cabinet.
Ngaro could go into the outer Ministry.
Foss’s spot in the outer Ministry could be filled by Mark Mitchell.
Otherwise, of those who have served at least one term there are any number of contenders for promotion.
But what looks more likely is that the number of new Ministers will be small though there may be some more substantial changes in the allocation of portfolios.
Portfolios which could be up for grabs include Climate Change, Tertiary Education, Transport, Energy and Tourism.