‘No surprise’ Cabinet reshuffle nonetheless raises eyebrows

Venkat Raman

Although Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had said that her first cabinet reshuffle would not come as a surprise, the line-up announced on Thursday, June 27, 2019 did raise a few eyebrows.

The ‘No-Surprise’ element was the withdrawal of the Housing portfolio from Phil Twyford, who was blamed by the Opposition for poor performance of KiwiBuild.

But what was not expected was the creation of trio of the Housing Ministry led by Megan Woods, in addition to her current duties as Minister of Energy and Resources, Greater Christchurch Regeneration and Research, Science and Innovation.

But Mr Twyford gained the post of Economic Development Minister from David Parker.

Kris Faafoi joins the Cabinet

Kris Faafoi has been promoted to Cabinet rank as Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Government Digital Services and Commerce and Consumer Affairs. He also joins the Housing Team as Associate Minister in charge of Public Housing.

“Kris Faafoi has done an outstanding job as a Minister outside of Cabinet and now joins the Cabinet based on his performance this term,” Ms Ardern said.

Nanaia Mahuta will continue in her role as Minister of Maori Housing and Mr Twyford will be in charge of Urban Development.

Addressing the Housing crisis

“After nine years of neglect there is a lot to fix in housing. KiwiBuild has not progressed as well or as quickly as we’d hoped or expected. But our ambition to build more affordable houses for New Zealanders has not changed and neither has the public appetite for the Government to be building affordable homes with 60 per cent of voters in a recent Colmar Brunton poll saying they wanted KiwiBuild to continue. It has become clear to me that the range of challenges in fixing the housing crisis are too great for one Minister. Therefore, I am putting in place a team of senior Ministers to deliver the full breadth of our housing plan, from KiwiBuild right through to tackling homelessness,” Ms Ardern said.

Poto Williams becomes Minister

Assistant Speaker Poto Williams picks up the portfolio of Community and Voluntary Sector outside the Cabinet, shedding her current role as Assistant Speaker. She has also been made Associate Minister for Social Development, Immigration and Greater Christchurch Regeneration.

Ms Williams will be sworn in as Minister on July 3, 2019.

Other changes include: Grant Robertson becomes Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, Jenny Salesa becomes Minister of Customs, Peeni Henare becomes Minister of Civil Defence and a small number of associate delegations change.

Ruth Dyson will be nominated for the role of Assistant Speaker.

Michael Wood becomes the Senior Government Whip and gives up his roles as Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities and Chair of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Priyanca Radhakrishnan becomes the Parliamentary Private Secretary for Ethnic Affairs.

Willow Jean Prime becomes Parliamentary Private Secretary for Local Government.

Parliamentary Private Secretaries are members of Parliament who may be appointed by the Prime Minister by letter to assist Ministers. Parliamentary Private Secretaries support the Minister by building relationships with relevant communities, representing the Minister at public events, delivering speeches on occasions when the Minister is not available, and assisting with administrative matters. They are not part of the Executive. They have no executive responsibilities and no policy, financial, statutory, or operational authority. They are not bound by the principle of collective responsibility.

Deborah Russell gives up being Chair of the Environment Select Committee and becomes the Chair of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

Duncan Webb becomes the Chair of the Environment Select Committee.

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  1. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on her way to announce the Cabinet reshuffle.(RNZ Photo by Dom Thomas)
  2. Priyanca Radhakrishnan Parliamentary Private Secretary for Ethnic Affairs.
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