Some surprise appointments in the new Jacinda Ardern Cabinet

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, November 2, 2020

           Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing her Cabinet line-up in Wellington today (Nov 2) 

Incoming (Second Term) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pulled a few surprises in her Cabinet line-up which she announced at a media conference in Wellington this afternoon.

Grant Robertson promoted

Elevation of Grant Robertson as the Deputy Prime Minister was on the cards for at least 24 hours when it became known that Labour Party Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis was not keen on the role.

It was a well-deserved promotion for Mr Robertson who had proved his mettle as the Finance Minister during the Covid-19 lock-down. His supporters say that Mr Robertson’s response with financial relief packages that benefited a broad spectrum of businesses and salary earners was among the highlights of the goodwill earned by the Ms Ardern government.

As well as keeping his portfolio as Sports and Recreation Minister, Mr Robertson has got two additional jobs- as Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Racing, the latter held by the outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters.


Grant Robertson becomes Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Infrastructure, Sports and Recreation and Racing (RNZ Picture by Jane Patterson)


Other significant changes

Mr Davis has been rewarded with the appointment as Minister for Maori Crown Relations (Te Arawhiti), Minister for Children and Minister of Corrections.

Ms Ardern has taken full charge as Minister for National Security and Intelligence and as Minister for Child Poverty Reduction and Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services. Having given away the post of Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage to Carmel Sepuloni, she will now be Associate Minister.

The most significant change from the previous Cabinet of Ms Ardern is the promotion of Grant Roberson to the post of Deputy Prime Minister, partly as a reward for his exemplary work during Covid-19 lockdown and partly because Kelvin Davis did not prefer that role.

Ms Sepuloni has received additional roles as Minister for ACC, Minister for Disability Issues, retaining her erstwhile portfolio of Social Development, with added responsibility of Employment.

Michael Wood, another favourite of the South Asian communities, has been appointed for Minister of Transport, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety and Deputy Leader of the House.

Mr Wood has always been passionate about transport issues and improved safety of workplace. As such, he has reason to be satisfied with the assignments.

Surprising appointment

The most surprising appointment is that of Nanaia Mahuta as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She became the first woman in New Zealand’s history to hold that post. Although she is not experienced in diplomacy, as Ms Ardern said, “She will the experience that she has built as Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth in the outgoing government.”

Andrew Little who held the portfolios of Justice and Courts, will be the New Minister of Health and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, in addition to retaining the responsibilities for GSCB (Government Communications Security Bureau) and NZSIS (New Zealand Security Intelligence Service).

David Parker takes over a new Ministry for Oceans and Fisheries, apart from being the Attorney General, Minister for the Environment and Minister of Revenue. He loses the Trade and Export Growth portfolio.

Jenny Salesa is conspicuous by absence in the new Cabinet but is expected to become Assistant Speaker in the 53rd Parliament. Her role as Minister for Building and Construction has been taken over by Poto Williams who is elevated to Cabinet rank. She also becomes Minister of Police.

Exchange of jobs

Stuart Nash, who lost the Police portfolio, retains the position of Minister of Small Business and gains three major Ministries- Economic and Regional Development, Forestry and Tourism.

Kris Faafoi becomes Minister of Justice in addition to being the Minister of Immigration and Minister for Broadcasting and Media.

Peeni Henare, who also enters the Cabinet for the first time, becomes Minister of Defence and Minister for Whanau Ora. He also gains the role of Associate Minister in Ministries- Maori Health, Maori Housing and Tourism.

Dr David Clark, who lost his job earlier this year for breaching Covid-19 restrictions, surprisingly returns to the Cabinet to become Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Minister for the Digital Economy. Minister for State Owned Enterprises and Minister of Statistics.

The Following Ministrerial List is courtesy of Sam Sachdeva, Newsroom


Challenging term

Ms Ardern also broke the tradition of ‘no-ministry-for-first-term-MPs’ by appointing Ayesha Verrall as the Minister for Food Safety and Minister for Seniors. She also become the Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Research, Science and Innovation.

Ms Ardern said that the next three years will be very challenging for New Zealand.

“With the global outlook worsening , we will not be immune to the ongoing impact that Covid-19 is having around the world. With this in mind, the new Labour government will have two overarching priorities: to drive our economic recovery from Covid-19 and to continue our health response to keep New Zealanders safe from the virus,” she said.

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