OPINION: Bill English has subtly and delicately taken the knife to his old mate Nick Smith by stripping him of major housing responsibilities in his latest reshuffle.
English is publicly dismantling Smith, taking him from Housing Minister to Minister responsible for Building Regulations.
English today removed responsibility for the Government's "house-building" programme from Smith and gave it to Amy Adams in a "nothing-to-see-here-guys" move.
The political reality is English has taken a big job off Smith, a symbolic Opposition target, and given it to the uber-competent Amy Adams.
Remember: in November last year, Nick Smith was Housing Minister, aka "The Million Dollar Minister" in relation to the million-dollar cost of the average house in Auckland.
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Then, in his first reshuffle in December, Bill English decided there would no Housing Minister anymore and that Nick Smith would be Minister of Building and Construction.
Now he has decided to take even more responsibility from Smith, removing his responsibility for the Crown land building programme and the Tamaki redevelopment.
English said the Government is gearing up to do more in the house-building area - and clearly he does not want Smith to front it.
It is a clever political move by Bill English as he does not give the media or opposition a "head on a plate". Because it is not an outright sacking, he also preserves his friend Nick Smith's dignity - and he is still a Minister too.
But despite all the political chicanery, the average house still costs over a million dollars in Auckland - and that is an indictment.
Patrick Gower is Newshub’s political editor.