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Nick Smith could return to Cabinet

Thursday 2 Aug 2012 6:09 p.m.

By Political Editor Duncan Garner

A deal is being struck that is likely to see former minister Nick Smith, return to Cabinet later in the year.

Parliament's speaker is soon to be confirmed as our next High Commissioner in London, and that means the door for Dr Smith swings back open.

Parliament is a cosy club where deals are struck daily and a deal is being done that will see 28-year veteran speaker Lockwood Smith head to London by December to be our next High Commissioner.

Although no one is ready to confirm it, it's all but done.

“It's eminently possible that Lockwood Smith may have an overseas posting, the Government hasn't denied that,” Prime Minister John Key says.

And 3 News can reveal long time minister David Carter is the man John Key has lined up to be the next Speaker, although when we hit him up he first denied it.

“No definitely not,” he said.

But he didn't take long to come clean.

“I've had some preliminary discussions, nothing more formal than that… [about] whether I'd be prepared to be speaker.

“If I received a formal proposition I'd seriously consider it.”

Mr Key wouldn't talk about the discussion.

“Again I'm not going to speculate on that before some decision is made on whether Lockwood Smith is going to head overseas.

Mr Carter is the Local Government Minister and 3 News understands when he becomes Speaker, former Minister Nick Smith - who resigned in the ACC scandal earlier this year - is in line to return to that portfolio, and Mr Key won't rule that out.

“There would have to be an opening, at the moment there is not an opening."

Lockwood Smith refuses to discuss the London posting publicly, but privately - and with some discomfort he admits a deal is being struck.

These deals are common in politics - it keeps an ageing politician's career alive and gives them a dignified exit, commonly known as “jobs for the boys”.

3 News

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