3 Nov 2020
Most predictions for Cabinet roles failed to eventuate, with several surprise promotions weighted towards the Covid-19 response and a concentration of key ministries in the hands of proven performers.
As well as picking up the role of Deputy PM, Finance Minister Grant Robertson gains overall responsibility for Infrastructure. PM Jacinda Ardern emphasised the importance of infrastructure in response to media questions after the announcement. She said, “we’ve also coupled in the infrastructure role so that he can focus on the overall agenda in that space, because it is enormous. We will be very focused on making sure projects are rolling out the door as we expect and in a timely way.”
One of the surprises is Poto Williams as Minister for Building and Construction. She is also Minister of Police, and has picked up an Associate role in Housing (Public Housing). Her new roles represent a significant promotion – from last ranked outside Cabinet to No 10 inside Cabinet. Under the previous administration, Ms Williams was Minster for the Community and Voluntary Sector, along with a number of associate ministerial roles. The Christchurch East MP has worked in the community sector for most of her professional life, including mental health, disability, community health and family violence.
Former Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa is one of the biggest losers in the reshuffle, moving out of Cabinet and failing to gain any ministerial portfolios.
Megan Woods remains Minister of Energy and Resources, and Research, Science and Technology, as well as gaining Housing and an Associate Finance role.
Chris Hipkins retains Education and picks up the new Minister for Covid-19 Response, which oversees the health response to the virus.
Nanaia Mahuta’s promotion to Foreign Affairs Minister has gained a lot of attention – but she also retains Local Government and consequential oversight of water reform.
The new Minister for Transport is Michael Wood, who was previously Senior Whip. The MP for Mt Roskill has “a particular interest in Auckland’s urban development and is a keen supporter of more high-quality affordable housing, and rapid public transport,” according to the Labour Party website.
Stuart Nash picks up the provincial portfolio previously held by Shane Jones and the economic development portfolio previously held by Phil Twyford – now renamed Economic and Regional Development. He also retains Small Business (and gains Forestry and Tourism).