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Brash may be in line for minister's portfolio

Friday 29 Apr 2011 9:46 a.m.

Dr Brash's desire to become Finance Minister was most unlikely to be satisfied (NZPA)

Dr Brash's desire to become Finance Minister was most unlikely to be satisfied (NZPA)

Prime Minister John Key is not ruling out a Cabinet position for Don Brash in a future government.

The former National Party leader is set to take over the ACT Party following Rodney Hide's resignation as leader yesterday.

Dr Brash, whose race-based campaign in 2005 helped National come within a whisker of becoming government, will be the party's leader outside Parliament until the November 26 general election.

Speaking from Britain, Mr Key said he would not rule out giving Dr Brash a Cabinet job after the election.

However, Dr Brash's desire to become Finance Minister was most unlikely to be satisfied, with Mr Key saying there was "virtually no chance", the New Zealand Herald reported.

With regard to the current Government, Mr Key said Dr Brash' takeover did not change much for National.

"They (ACT) might have a new leader but the direction and views haven't changed and from our perspective we will work with the ACT party hopefully constructively as we have in the past, but in the end that's a matter for them and how they want to engage with the government," he said.

Critics of Dr Brash yesterday warned that his return to Parliament could result in extreme right-wing policies from the Government, but Mr Key said he intended to run a moderate centre-right government.

"I don't think we vehemently disagree with ACT about the direction that New Zealand should take," he said.

"Where we have significant disagreement is about the pace and extremes of the changes and I don't think that's actually really altered a lot.

"Now what appetite that is for more extreme policy is something that will be tested at the election, but that was always going to be tested anyway irrelevant of who the leader is."

Mr Key said he had spoken to Mr Hide, who was in good spirits.

"We are all in the world of politics we all recognise that it's a rough and tumble business and its always full of challenges," he said.

"No one necessarily wants to end the way he did but all great political careers end in failure arguably."

Dr Brash, who said Mr Hide's brand is damaged, also wants to strip him of the Epsom electorate, giving his blessing to former Auckland mayor and National Government minister John Banks.

"I want ideally someone standing in Epsom who can not only win it but be seen to win it months in advance and I see that John Banks could do that."

Mr Banks has said he would stand if he had the backing of the board as well as Dr Brash.

Dr Brash said he did not think Mr Hide should stay in Parliament because it was "awkward" for former leaders to continue to hold their seats.

Mr Hide said he would not be making hasty decisions about his future and it was up to the party who stood in Epsom. He would remain in Parliament until the election and continue in his ministerial responsibilities.

"Ultimately I've got to get through this, concentrating on the transfer of leadership and the maintenance of the Government and then I can start reflecting on that and talk to the party."

NZPA

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