Cabinet reshuffle: Prime Minister Chris Hipkins unveils new line-up; Government response to Auckland flooding

Cabinet reshuffle: Prime Minister Chris Hipkins unveils new line-up; Government response to Auckland flooding

Chris Hipkins holds a press conference after the cabinet. Video / Mark Mitchell


Senior MP Andrew Little has been demoted and lost his health portfolio while Chris Hipkins has unveiled a new minister for Auckland in his cabinet reshuffle.

The Prime Minister presented his post-Cabinet press conference, only his second in the job, two polls published last night which showed a turnaround in political fortunes for Labor under his leadership, now just ahead of National.

As well as naming first-term MP Ayesha Verrall as Health Minister, Hipkins promoted Mt Roskill MP Michael Wood to Minister for Auckland.

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“Having a senior minister with a focus on the city ensures Auckland gets the attention it needs. It’s going to be even more important following the events of the past few days,” Hipkins said.

“When Auckland succeeds, the country succeeds.”

Hipkins said it would be consistent with his transportation portfolio, and the role has even greater importance given the events of the past few days.

“I want a minister with a focus on the city.”

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Hipkins said he wanted to play a bigger role in the economics team and in Auckland he was the logical choice to lead it.

For more political news and views, listen to On the Tiles, the Herald’s politics podcast

Mahuta loses Local Government

Nanaia Mahuta has lost the controversial post of local government minister to Kieran McAnulty, who is moving into cabinet.

Mahuta will remain as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Hipkins said that initially she was unable to travel in the early days of the role and that has now changed.

On Mahuta’s demotion and what it meant for Māori, Hipkins said she remained an integral part of the team and there were now more Māori MPs on the front bench than when he started the process.

Hipkins said the top team of himself, Sepuloni, Roberston, Davis and Woods, is unchanged, adding that 2023 will bring ongoing costs to businesses.

Grant Roberston will remain Finance Minister, with Hipkins citing his firm hand on the economy as shown in the country’s unemployment rate, among other factors.

“The government is hearing loud and clear that many New Zealanders and many families are struggling.”

Jan Tinetti becomes Minister of Education, moves to number six and picks up the whole portfolio, picking up child poverty reduction.

Long-term MP Phil Twyford has lost all ministerial responsibility. Hipkins said Twyford understood the need to bring in fresh talent.

He was “philosophical” about it, Hipkins said.

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Little will take over the defense from Peeni Henare.

Hipkins said Little made it clear he would support any decision when asked if he was happy to lose the health portfolio.

He said he had “full confidence” in Little, who fell seven places in the reshuffle.

Willie Jackson is ninth and Kiri Allan is 10th. Both retained their key portfolios, Broadcasting and Justice respectively.

Stuart Nash picks up the police. When asked about Nash getting the portfolio back, Hipkins said he showed a “certain affinity” for the role.

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He said he knew Nash would “be right there on day one”.

Hipkins, who recently held the portfolio, said there was a lot of work going on, particularly around ram raids and gangs. He said he knew that Nash would be able to pick it up and hit the ground running.

Joining McAnulty in the cabinet are new ministers Ginny Andersen and Barbara Edmonds.

“Ginny will become the Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Seniors, Associate Minister for Immigration and Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.”

Barbara Edmonds will become the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister for Pacific Peoples, Associate Health Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Housing.

“There are four new ministers outside the cabinet; Duncan Webb, Willow-Jean Prime, Rino Tirikatene and Dr Deborah Russell.

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“I want to acknowledge the outgoing ministers for their incredible service. To Poto Williams, David Clark, Aupito William Sio, Phil Twyford and of course Jacinda Ardern, thank you.

Of all those who have dropped significantly, Hipkins said none of them have indicated they intend to back down. There was an expectation that they would hold on for another four years.

He paused when asked if they made that commitment before learning their new rankings.

The reshuffle, predicted by former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year, was announced internally to the Labor Party this morning ahead of a Cabinet meeting.

Government response

The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayor’s Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty announced today.

“Cabinet has today agreed that, given the seriousness of the event, a further $1 million contribution will be made. The Cabinet wants to be proactive and anticipate any formal application from the Council.

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“This is the most significant contribution to a Mayoral Relief Fund ever and ensures that funding is provided to the affected communities as quickly as possible,” said Kieran McAnulty.

Financial contributions to councils’ MRFs are typically made in the immediate aftermath of an emergency with the expectation that the local authority distributes funding to the community as it sees fit. The previous highest was $300,000, which was given to Nelson last year.

“I expect this will be welcome support for the many community-run centers across the city as it can help them support their communities. The fund will be administered by Auckland Council, but this funding can help provide support in dealing with things such as providing essential needs such as food and clothing, as well as cleaning up damaged properties in areas where support is not otherwise available.

“Mayor’s relief funds help communities bounce back after an emergency. Local communities and councils understand where the immediate needs are and how to help whānau, community organizations and marae.

“The local community knows the needs best and it is only appropriate that they determine how best to use these funds.

“I indicated on Saturday when I announced our initial contribution of $100,000 that more was expected to follow. After seeing the damage first hand, I am happy to be able to support the flood affected communities.

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“This is in addition to other government financial support provided to the region, such as payments from the Ministry of Social Development.

“The focus at the moment, for everyone involved, is to continue to respond to the emergency. Central government is still available to support the local response teams as needed,” McAnulty said.

Northland became the third region to declare a state of emergency. The declaration was made at 1pm today and will last for seven days. This follows Auckland declaring a state of emergency on Friday night and Waitomo on Saturday night.

Auckland has experienced record rainfall since Friday with widespread flooding creating hazards to people and property. So far this year the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research [Niwa] said Auckland had already recorded 38 per cent of its usual annual rainfall – and 769 per cent of its average January rainfall.

Hundreds of homes have already been deemed uninhabitable, and the Auckland flooding is predicted to cost the insurance industry nearly $1 billion in claims.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown declared a state of emergency for the region on Friday evening, which took effect immediately and will last for seven days. “Stay home if you can,” Brown said of the latest inclement weather. “The ground is so saturated, that if anything [the coming rain] could be worse than Friday.”

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The Ministry of Education has ordered all Auckland schools to close for on-site physical attendance until Friday, opening after the Waitangi weekend. Schools and kura can open remotely for distance education.

Mayor Brown has faced intense scrutiny over his handling of the Auckland floods and revealed a full independent review will be carried out into the response of the council, government and civil defense to the weather crisis.

The New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) is also on standby at two bases in the Auckland region to help if needed.

The government has already pledged $100,000 for Auckland flood relief – the most it can do without cabinet approval, with more support expected to be announced today or tomorrow when Hipkins visits Auckland.

The new Cabinet Chris Hipkins: Prime Minister, Minister for National Security and Intelligence Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services Carmel Sepuloni: Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Social Development and Employment Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs (Pacific Region) Kelvin Davis : Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister for Children, Minister for Corrections, Associate Minister for Education (Māori Education) Grant Robertson: Minister for Finance, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Leader of the HouseJan Tinetti: Minister for Education, Minister for Women , Minister for Child Poverty ReductionMichael Wood: Minister for Immigration, Minister for Transport, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Minister for Auckland, Associate Minister for FinanceAyesha Verrall: Minister for Health, Minister for Research, Science and InnovationWillie Jackson: Minister for Broadcasting and Media, Minister for Māori-on development, Associate Minister for ACC, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (Māori Employment) Kiri Allan: Minister for Justice, Minister for Regional Development, Associate Minister for Transport Megan Woods: Minister for Housing, Minister for Infrastructure, Minister for Energy and Resources, Minister for Building and Construction, Associate Minister for Finance Stuart Nash: Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Forestry, Minister for Police, Minister for Oceans and Fisheries Damien O’Connor: Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister for Land Information, Minister for Trade and Export Growth , Peeni Henare: Minister for ACC Minister for Tourism Associate Minister for the Environment Associate Minister for Health (Māori Health) Andrew Little: Minister for Defence, Minister responsible for the GCSB, Minister responsible for the NZSIS, Minister for the Public Service, Minister for the Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, chief coordinating minister for the government ‘s response to the Roy al Commission report into the Christchurch mosque terror attack David Parker: Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Minister of Revenue, Associate Minister of Finance, Minister of Whānau OraNanaia Mahuta: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, Associate Minister for Māori Development Priyanca Radhakrishnan: Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Minister for Disability Issues, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Kieran McAnulty: Minister for Emergency Management Minister of Local Government Minister for Racing Minister for Rural Communities Deputy Leader of the House Ginny Andersen: Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, Minister for Seniors, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister for Immigration, Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Maintenance ndelinge Barbara Edmonds: Minister of Home Affairs Minister for Pacific Peoples Associate Minister of Health (Pacific Peoples) Associate Minister of Housing Advertise Advertise with NZME.

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