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Brownlee named next foreign minister

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/04/2017 Karen Sweeney

Gerry Brownlee will be blunt but diplomatic when he needs to be as New Zealand's next foreign minister, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Mr English unveiled his new look cabinet on Monday, his second since becoming National leader in December.

Mr Brownlee will stand down as Defence and Civil Defence Minister to take on the role, replacing retiring MP Murray McCully who has held the position since 2008.

"Gerry has built up a very significant set of relationships with our partners through his role as Defence Minister and has done a very good job of that in a relatively short time," Mr English said.

"I think in Christchurch he's shown an ability to be blunt when he needs to be but also diplomatic when he needs to be, and also very effective."

Mark Mitchell has been promoted to cabinet as Defence Minister while Nathan Guy will replace Mr Brownlee in the Civil Defence portfolio.

Mr English said Mr Brownlee had made an "enormous personal commitment" to his role as minister responsible for the Christchurch rebuild after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner will take on those responsibilities.

The reshuffle also included the promotion of Nikki Kaye to the full Education portfolio after an "extended apprenticeship" as associate education minister.

Ms Kaye was earmarked as the replacement for outgoing minister Hekia Parata during Mr English's first cabinet reshuffle but the decision was made to delay her appointment until she settled back into work after receiving treatment for breast cancer.

Mr English said Ms Parata had changed the conversation about learning with her relentless focus on student achievement while he praised Mr McCully for improving and developing relationships between New Zealand and countries worldwide while running a truly independent foreign policy for New Zealand.

"This is not an easy feat but one he has accomplished in an increasingly complex world," Mr English said.

Ms Kaye said she had dreamed of an opportunity like this since coming to parliament and looked forward to taking up the new role.

She said she was confident she and associate ministers Louise Upston and newly appointed Tim Macindoe would make a great team.

As well as his associate portfolio appointment, senior whip Mr Macindoe and local government and environment select committee chairman Scott Simpson have been promoted as ministers outside cabinet as Customs Minister and Statistics Minister respectively.

Simon Bridges was appointed as Leader of the House and Michael Woodhouse as deputy.

Changes have also been made to the housing portfolios held by Amy Adams and Nick Smith.

Ms Adams as Social Housing Minister will remain responsible for Housing New Zealand and social and emergency housing, but will take on responsibility for the Crown land programme and have increased responsibility in the overall house building programme.

As Building and Construction Minister, Mr Smith will continue to oversee building regulation and sector productivity issues.

New ministers will be sworn in next Tuesday and will have their first cabinet meeting together on May 8.

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