Ardern plots 'mini-Budget' after taking office


Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters are sworn in as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her Government could move quickly to pass a “mini-Budget” as it presses ahead with a plan for its first 100 days in office.

Ardern and her ministers were greeted by a cheering crowd of hundreds in front of Parliament on Thursday afternoon, having earlier been officially sworn in by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at Government House.

Addressing the crowd, Ardern said it was “an enormous privilege and an honour to stand with these wonderful people here in front of you today, in front of your house, with your government”.

The ministers took seriously their roles and responsibilities, and would be a government for all New Zealanders, not just those who voted for their parties.

“Regardless of the political parties that we belong to, all of us campaigned because we believed that New Zealand is a wonderful place that can be even better, a place where everyone deserves a decent job with decent wages, where everyone should be able to access the healthcare they need, when they need it, a place where education can and should be world class.

“A place where we protect our environment and we can stand and say hand on heart that we’re a society that should be judged on how we look after our most vulnerable, our elderly and our children.”

“We’ve got so much work to do though, I imagine it will probably be roughly Christmas time before I think too much about the last three months which have been extraordinary.”

Speaking to media after posing for selfies with the crowd, Ardern said the Government needed to “act urgently” if it was to succeed with the objectives in its 100-day plan.

It was possible a “mini-Budget” could be required to move ahead with some parts of the plan, but she was taking advice from officials on whether that was necessary.

“When we sit down as a Cabinet we’ll be working through first, whether that’s required, and when it would be required by.”

Ardern said her Government was already working on its negotiating position regarding the TPP trade deal ahead of Apec, and was committed to ensuring it could ban foreign buyers from purchasing existing homes in New Zealand.

While Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters suggested on Wednesday “serious work” was required on New Zealand’s relationship with Australia, Ardern did not believe there was any rift between the two countries.

“When you look at a policy context, there are always things that we could and should be advocating around. There is a depth to our relationship absolutely, but we do need to make sure we keep advocating, particularly for New Zealanders in Australia, and we’ll keep doing so.”

Ardern said she was excited and humbled by the Parliament welcome, but it would take some time for the reality to sink in.

“We’ve got so much work to do though, I imagine it will probably be roughly Christmas time before I think too much about the last three months which have been extraordinary.”

Ardern said the Cabinet would meet briefly on Thursday afternoon for what was primarily an induction, with a full Cabinet meeting to take place next Tuesday.

'Focused, empathetic and strong'

Earlier in the day, Ardern pledged to provide a government that was “focussed, empathetic and strong”.

The 28 ministers and three parliamentary undersecretaries that make up the new Government were formally sworn in at Government House by Reddy.

Bouquets of red and white flowers with greenery, representing the diversity of the Labour-New Zealand First-Green government, were on display underneath a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as Reddy and Ardern greeted the incoming ministers and undersecretaries.

Fourteen ministers and undersecretaries, including Ardern, chose to take the affirmation of allegiance instead of swearing on the Bible, while 17 took the traditional oath - including all of New Zealand First.

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio became the first minister to swear allegiance in Samoan, while Women’s Minister Julie Anne Genter, born in the United States, received murmurs of appreciation when she made her affirmation in Te reo Maori.

After confirming she held the confidence of Parliament and pledging allegiance, Ardern addressed her executive, telling them she knew they would do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

“We have a responsibility now, to all New Zealanders, to do our very best to achieve the goals of this government. To be a government that is active, that is focussed, that is empathetic, and that is strong."