New Zealand PM Bill English announces cabinet reshuffle

New Zealand's new Prime Minister Bill English speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington on Dec 12, 2016.
New Zealand's new Prime Minister Bill English speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington on Dec 12, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English unveiled a new-look cabinet on Sunday (Dec 18), marking his first major move since taking over the country's top job six days ago.

There were few surprises in the fine-tuning with only one minister who intends to stand in next year's general election dropped completely, while others had their roles adjusted.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, who has announced he would not be seeking re-election, will retain his role until a replacement is appointed in May.

English, 54, was unanimously elected by the ruling centre-right National Party as the new leader after the popular Key resigned for family reasons after eight years as prime minister.

"This refreshed ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges," English said.

"This new ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities."

Judith Collins, who briefly challenged English for the leadership, lost the police portfolio and was dropped two places on the cabinet list.

Jonathan Coleman, who also stood for the leadership until it became clear English had the numbers to win, remained as health minister and stayed on the frontbench.

New Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett took over as police minister while Simon Bridges - seen as a high-flyer in the National Party ranks - moved into the top five in cabinet.

He replaced Steven Joyce as economic development minister, with Joyce taking over the finance portfolio.

Four-term MP Jo Goodhew, who was minister for food safety, was dropped from the cabinet. Two other former cabinet members Sam Lotu-Iiga and Craig Foss announced their resignations before the reshuffle.