The Green Party says it's too soon for former ACC Minister Nick Smith to return to cabinet. Prime Minister John Key has hinted Dr Smith could return in a reshuffle this week.
Mr Key also said Dr Smith's part in the controversy between Bronwyn Pullar and ACC was a "hiccup".
Dr Smith walked from Cabinet after he was dragged into the storm of controversy between Bronwyn Pullar and ACC.
“I apologise to those I have let down,” he said at the time.
But he should start this Parliamentary year in a happier mood. The Prime Minister, who is currently visiting Antarctica, hinted Dr Smith could soon come in from the cold.
“I've always said that I'm not ruling him out and that if I made that announcement on Tuesday, don't think he'd be surprised.”
Dr Smith's resignation came after he wrote two notes on ministerial letterhead supporting friend Bronwyn Pullar's case against ACC. Mr Key says it was minor.
“Nick's a guy [who has] been a very successful minister. Yup, there has been a bit of a hiccup, [so it] made sense for him to have a bit of time out.”
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said it was more than a hiccup and Dr Smith should stay on the backbenches until the next election.
“I think Nick behaved unethically as a Cabinet minister. He misused his ministerial powers,” she says. “I don't think he should be brought back at all. I'm surprised John Key is prepared to do that.”
But Mr Key has seats in Cabinet that need to be filled. David Carter's tipped to take the speaker's position left vacant by Lockwood Smith's move to become the next high commissioner to London.
Dr Smith refused an on-camera interview because he said it would pre-empt any announcement. He told 3 News he hasn't talked to the Prime Minister this year but he'd be delighted to make a return to the Cabinet table.
Dr Smith's return should be one major change in Cabinet, but one portfolio won't be shuffled. Mr Key says under-fire Education Minister Hekia Parata will keep her position.