Ardern Elevates Robertson With Economy the Focus of New Cabinet
(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern named a new cabinet focused strongly on the economic recovery, with Finance Minister Grant Robertson elevated to second-in-command.
In addition to his finance portfolio, Robertson has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister and will also have responsibility for infrastructure, Ardern said Monday in Wellington. He will be supported by senior ministers Megan Woods and David Parker in associate finance roles.
“In what will be a difficult environment it’s critical we have our most experienced ministers leading the ongoing Covid response to keep New Zealanders safe from the virus and to accelerate our plan for economic recovery,” Ardern said. “Grant Robertson will become Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Infrastructure Minister; drawing together the key portfolios central to that economic recovery.”
Ardern swept to a landslide victory in last month’s election, with her Labour Party securing an outright majority in parliament for the first time since New Zealand introduced a proportional voting system in 1996. Her mandate was built largely on a coronavirus elimination strategy that has successfully contained community outbreaks.
Ardern appointed Chris Hipkins as Minister for Covid-19 Response, a new role that will cover the running of managed isolation facilities, border defenses, testing and contact tracing systems, and managing any resurgence of the virus. He retains education.
Other key portfolio reallocations include assigning health to Andrew Little, economic development to Stuart Nash and trade to Damien O’Connor. Woods retains her housing and energy roles, while Parker remains Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment.
Nanaia Mahuta is named Minister of Foreign Affairs, the first woman to fill the role in New Zealand history.
Labour’s election dominance coupled with the failure of former coalition partner New Zealand First to return to parliament means Ardern has been able to promote a number of backbenchers and newcomers. New member of parliament Ayesha Verrall, an infectious diseases expert, goes straight into cabinet as Minister for Food Safety and Associate Minister of Health.
The Green Party, which supports Ardern’s administration, has been given two ministerial roles outside cabinet.
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