Wellington, Nov 19 NZPA - Late this morning, in Parliament's Grand Hall, John Key's new ministers will be sworn in and a new National-led government will be in place after nine years of Labour rule.
The incoming prime minister has set a hectic pace since the election, forging support agreements with three minor parties that give him 70 confidence votes in the 122-member Parliament.
It all comes together today but the new ministers won't have much time to dwell on their important new status.
At 2.30pm they will go into the cabinet room for their first meeting and Mr Key is going to warn them of tough times ahead.
He said yesterday he would emphasise that the government's books and the wider economy were in a parlous state.
The Treasury's December economic and fiscal update was likely to show further deterioration, although it would not be significantly worse than the figures released last week, he said.
That leads to the message he is going to give his ministers about their own fiscal responsibilities.
He said he would tell them that if they wanted to spend more than the $1.75 billion that had already been committed, they would have to make savings and reallocate funds.
Mr Key will also tell them about the standards he expect them to meet, and their responsibilities to the minor parties National is working with.
"Obviously, every member of cabinet with a portfolio overlap, I expect them to have a good working relationship," he said.
While Mr Key is delivering these messages, Labour's new leader Phil Goff and his deputy Annette King will be working out their shadow cabinet.
A comprehensive reshuffle of portfolio responsibilities is expected as Labour gets ready for the opposition benches.
Mr Goff is likely to pick a front bench he feels is most able to take on the new ministers in areas like health, education, and law and order.
He has said he will announce Labour's new lineup later this week.
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