Ardern plays it safe with ministerial line-up

Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare, Clare Curran and Carmel Sepuloni listen as Jacinda Ardern reveals their ministerial portfolios. Photo: Lynn Grieveson.

Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern’s line-up of ministers contained few surprises, but a shake-up of government ministries is on the way, as Sam Sachdeva reports.

ANALYSIS: When Jacinda Ardern unveiled the ministers who will make up her incoming government, it was relatively hard to quibble with the list.

Any shocks were few and far between, with Labour’s ministers largely tasked with handling portfolios they had already worked on in opposition.

The new Finance Minister Grant Robertson will have the tricky task of reconciling the fiscal impact of the various concessions made to the Greens and New Zealand First and Labour’s own plans with his party’s budget responsibility pledge.

National’s finance spokesman Steven Joyce will be watching the new Government’s books like a hawk, and has already “done the maths” and questioned whether there is enough money to go around (although his largely discredited allegations about an $11 billion “fiscal hole” during the election campaign brought to mind a classic line from The Simpsons).

Befitting his status as one of the party’s policy wonks, David Parker has a hefty workload, taking on the economic development and environment portfolios along with the role of Attorney-General.

He will also be Trade and Export Growth Minister, tasked with steering the Government through tricky negotiations on the TPP trade deal in the run-up to Apec.

Former leader Andrew Little, whose decision to put his neck on the chopping block allowed Ardern to win Labour’s way into government, has also been given a wide array of portfolios.

The ex-lawyer’s background will come in handy as Justice Minister, while he has also been tasked with handling Treaty of Waitangi negotiations along with the GCSB and SIS.

As the new Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, he’ll also have to deliver on a difficult pledge of huge political and personal sensitivity.

Interestingly, Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis has been given the new role of Minister for Crown-Maori Relations, with Ardern saying he was responsible for preparing for a future beyond Treaty negotiations.

NZ First on the world stage

As expected, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has picked up the foreign affairs and racing portfolios, along with responsibility for state-owned enterprises.

Peters has held the foreign affairs role before without any major faux pas, and seems likely to do so again.

With Peters holding foreign affairs, and New Zealand First MPs Ron Mark as Defence Minister and Fletcher Tabuteau as Peters’ undersecretary, it will be interesting to see to what extent the party’s protectionist outlook flows into the Government’s approach on the world stage.

Of course, it will be Ardern who sets the direction for New Zealand’s foreign policy which may provide a counter-balance to any dramatic shift.

Former Labour minister turned New Zealand First MP Shane Jones will get to oversee the $1b-a-year regional development fund as Regional Economic Development Minister, while Tracey Martin is taking on Ardern’s dream job of Children’s Minister (a role the Prime Minister said she could not take on due to operational issues; instead, she’s created a new role for herself as Minister for Child Poverty Reduction).

As for the Greens, they have stuck largely to environmental issues (as some political observers urged them to during the debate over Metiria Turei’s welfare fraud admissions).
James Shaw will be Climate Change Minister, Eugenie Sage is serving as Conservation Minister, and Julie Anne Genter is set to promote public transport as an Associate Transport Minister.

Ardern said she had played to the parties’ various strengths when allocating the portfolios, and giving the Greens an environmental focus and New Zealand First the regions makes sense.

Shake-up of ministries?

The area of greatest intrigue is what Ardern’s government intends to do with the array of existing ministries.

She confirmed the Ministry for Primary Industries as it currently exists will be gone - instead, the work is being split up into fisheries, forestry and agriculture.

She also hinted at changes to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, a “super-ministry” set up by the last government in 2012 and subject to plenty of criticism since.

As for the Social Investment Agency, a brainchild of Bill English, Ardern has punted for now: it will be handled by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni while the Government reviews its work so far.

That suggests the social investment approach may not be dead, despite criticism by Labour during the last term of government.

The ministers will be sworn in on Thursday, and won’t have their feet under their desks for long before they’re rushed into action fulfilling the array of pledges made during the election campaign.

The full list

Cabinet ministers

Jacinda Ardern:
Prime Minister
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Minister for National Security and Intelligence
Minister for Child Poverty Reduction

Winston Peters:
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister for State Owned Enterprises
Minister for Racing

Kelvin Davis:
Minister for Crown/Maori Relations
Minister of Corrections
Minister of Tourism
Associate Minister of Education (Maori Education)

Grant Robertson:
Minister of Finance
Minister for Sport and Recreation
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage

Phil Twyford:
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Minister of Transport

Megan Woods:
Minister of Energy and Resources
Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration
Minister of Research, Science and Innovation
Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission

Chris Hipkins:
Minister of Education
Minister of State Services
Leader of the House
Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services

Andrew Little:
Minister of Justice
Minister for Courts
Minister Responsible for the GCSB
Minister Responsible for the NZSIS Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry

Carmel Sepuloni:
Minister for Social Development
Minister for Disability Issues
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Associate Minister for Pacific Peoples

David Clark:
Minister of Health
Associate Minister of Finance

David Parker:
Attorney-General
Minister for Economic Development
Minister for the Environment
Minister for Trade and Export Growth
Associate Minister of Finance

Nanaia Mahuta:
Minister for Maori Development
Minister of Local Government
Associate Minister for the Environment

Stuart Nash:
Minister of Police
Minister of Fisheries
Minister of Revenue
Minister for Small Business

Iain Lees-Galloway:
Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety
Minister of Immigration
Minister for ACC
Deputy Leader of the House

Jenny Salesa:
Minister for Building and Construction
Minister for Ethnic Communities
Associate Minister of Education
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development

Damien O’Connor:
Minister of Agriculture
Minister for Biosecurity
Minister for Food Safety
Minister for Rural Communities
Associate Minister of Trade and Export Growth

Clare Curran:
Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
Minister for Government Digital Services
Associate Minister for ACC
Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government)

Ron Mark:
Minister of Defence
Minister for Veterans

Tracey Martin:
Minister for Children
Minister of Internal Affairs
Minister for Seniors
Associate Minister of Education

Shane Jones:
Minister of Forestry
Minister for Infrastructure
Minister for Regional Economic Development
Associate Minister of Finance
Associate Minister of Transport

Ministers outside of Cabinet

Kris Faafoi:
Minister of Civil Defence
Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Associate Minister of Immigration

Peeni Henare:
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
Minister for Whānau Ora
Minister for Youth
Associate Minister for Social Development

Willie Jackson:
Minister of Employment
Associate Minister for Maori Development

Aupito William Sio:
Minister for Pacific Peoples
Associate Minister for Courts
Associate Minister of Justice

Meka Whaitiri:
Minister of Customs
Associate Minister of Agriculture
Associate Minister for Crown/Maori Relations
Associate Minister of Local Government

James Shaw:
Minister for Climate Change
Minister of Statistics
Associate Minister of Finance

Julie Anne Genter:
Minister for Women
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister of Transport

Eugenie Sage:
Minister of Conservation
Minister for Land Information
Associate Minister for the Environment

Undersecretaries

Michael Wood:
Undersecretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities

Fletcher Tabuteau:
Undersecretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Undersecretary to the Minister of Regional Economic Development

Jan Logie:
Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues)