Following on the heels of the National Party shadow cabinet reshuffle a few days ago, the Government has announced its own reshuffle. It comes amid concerns that Kiwi Build has failed, climate change emissions are continuing to increase and steady head winds caused by a slowing economy and problems with education, health and crime.
Perhaps the least surprising was the demotion of Phil Twyford, who lost the Housing portfolio to Cabinet heavy hitter, Megan Woods. It was not a complete loss however as Mr Twyford keeps his grip on Urban Development, picks up Economic Development and maintains his place in the Executive Council.
Ms Woods, who is already responsible for the Christchurch Earthquake as well as the Energy and Resources portfolio is one of the big movers in the Government Cabinet ranks. As the Minister also responsible for dealing with the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attacks, she is one of the more trusted Ministers inside the Cabinet of the Government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She now has three weeks whilst Parliament is in recess for school holidays to study the ins and outs of the Housing portfolio and figure out whether Kiwi Build can be saved or not.
There were other winners as well. Minister of Civil Defence, Kris Faafoi, who is widely known as the Minister of Everything, or as Ms Arderns trouble shooter for his ability to fix problems, has picked up Government Digital Services and Associate Minister of Housing. Another winner is Poto Williams. She has picked up Minister of Community and Voluntary Sector, Associate Ministership for Social Development, Immigration and Greater Christchurch Regeneration.
Some new comers who have not yet held significant positions were handed Private Secretary roles for Ethnic Affairs (Priyanka Radhakrishnan) and Local Government (Willow-Jean Prime). Deborah Russell who was Ms Prime’s predecessor moves to chair the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.
The moves appear to have affected the Labour caucus M.P.s who are Ministers. The New Zealand First and Green M.P.’s who hold Ministerial portfolio’s (Winston Peters, Tracey Martin, Shane Jones and Fletcher Tabuteau from New Zealand First, plus James Shaw and Eugenie Sage from the Greens), do not appear to have been affected.
Despite that, I expect that they will have noted the changes in the Cabinet colleagues. With major challenges facing Mr Peters in the escalating U.S.-Iran feud, the growing urgency around climate change piling pressure on Mr Shaw and the Oranga Tamariki debacle leaving Mrs Martin in a tight spot, none should take their Ministerships for granted. All will be under pressure to deliver some significant results before Parliament is dissolved later next year for the 2020 General Election. If New Zealand is going to make inroads, these matters need results sooner rather than later.