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NZ Cabinet Reshuffle: Ardern replaces Police Minister, Speaker

by Cameron Sinclair •
Free resource

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a significant cabinet reshuffle on the eve of the new financial year, replacing three senior ministers and elevating fresh talent into cabinet. 

Speaker Trevor Mallard and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi will both resign from parliament, with Police Minister Poto Williams being moved to Conservation and Disabilities; while Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Ayesha Verrall are both elevated to cabinet. 

NZ media coverage of the announcement focused on the appointment of Chris Hipkins to replace Williams. 

The police portfolio has been under close public scrutiny following an increase in patched gang activity and the perceived reluctance to intervene during ugly anti-vaccine protests in front of the Beehive earlier in 2021, which attracted international attention

Ardern played down the demotion, saying “We both share the view that at this time it’s critical that our focus is on supporting the Police, implementing our record investment in the frontline, passing our further gun law reforms and developing additional measures to deal with the current escalation in gang tensions and violence.” 

Intermedium estimates that the total ICT budget for New Zealand Police was approximately $174 million in 2020-21.  

Hipkins has been a ‘Minister Fix it’ for Ardern, and replaced Dr David Clark as Health Minister a few months into the pandemic after he made a series of missteps in the portfolio. 

Kris Faafoi is leaving parliament after 12 years to spend time with his family, a departure that has been expected for some time. The former journalist and press secretary was the minister responsible for New Zealand’s most recent Cyber Security Strategy, released in 2019. 

Speaker Trevor Mallard is stepping down after a parliamentary career spanning 35 years and will take up a diplomatic post in Europe. However, he departs under a cloud, with former cabinet colleague Winston Peters confirming that he will continue to pursue legal action against Mallard after being slapped with a trespass order for attending the anti-vaccine protests. The pair were both cabinet ministers in the Clark (1999-2008) and Arden Governments (2017-2020). 

Dr Ayesha Verrall rockets into cabinet less than two years after being appointed to parliament (as a List MP) in October 2020. The infectious diseases expert was a lecturer at Otago University, who had initially criticised the government’s contact tracing system, before being invited to audit it. She replaces Dr Megan Woods as the new Minister of Research, Science and Innovation and takes over responsibility for Covid-19 response from Chris Hipkins. 

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is elevated to cabinet, with only a minor change to her responsibilities. A social worker before her election to parliament in 2017, she has been Minister for Youth; the Community and Voluntary Sector; Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities; and the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment since 2020. She picks up Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, supporting portfolio minister Michael Wood. 

While there may be some additional resources for the police portfolio in due course (and we note that their ICT strategy is overdue for a refresh), the reshuffle should have little impact on ICT-related activity and legislation. 

Clark remains Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, with carriage over two bills that Intermedium is monitoring with interest. The Data and Statistics Bill is currently before the parliament (since 17 May) for debate; and the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework Bill was recently released from a select committee inquiry and is now ready to be debated in parliament. Consultations continue on the country’s revised digital strategy, with publication expected later in 2022. 

The 20-member Ardern cabinet is listed below; the full ministry list is here

(1) Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern  

  • Prime Minister 
  • Minister for National Security and Intelligence 
  • Minister for Child Poverty Reduction 
  • Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services 
  • Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage 

(2) Hon Grant Robertson 

  • Deputy Prime Minister 
  • Minister of Finance 
  • Minister for Infrastructure 
  • Minister for Sport and Recreation 

(3) Hon Kelvin Davis 

  • Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti 
  • Minister for Children 
  • Minister of Corrections 
  • Associate Minister of Education (Māori Education) 

(4) Hon Dr Megan Woods 

  • Minister of Housing 
  • Minister of Energy and Resources 
  • Minister for Building and Construction 
  • Associate Minister of Finance 

(5) Hon Chris Hipkins 

  • Minister of Education 
  • Minister of Police 
  • Minister for the Public Service 
  • Leader of the House 

(6) Hon Carmel Sepuloni 

  • Minister for Social Development and Employment 
  • Minister for ACC (Accident Compensation Commission) 
  • Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage 

(7) Hon Andrew Little 

  • Minister of Health 
  • Minister Responsible for the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) 
  • Minister Responsible for the NZSIS (Security Intelligence Service) 
  • Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations 
  • Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry 
  • Lead Coordination Minister for the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission’s Report into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques 

(8) Hon David Parker 

  • Attorney-General 
  • Minister for the Environment 
  • Minister for Oceans and Fisheries 
  • Minister of Revenue 
  • Associate Minister of Finance 

(9) Hon Nanaia Mahuta 

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs 
  • Minister of Local Government 
  • Associate Minister for Māori Development 

(10) Hon Poto Williams 

  • Minister of Conservation 
  • Minister for Disability Issues 
  • Associate Minister for Children 

(11) Hon Damien O’Connor 

  • Minister of Agriculture 
  • Minister for Biosecurity 
  • Minister for Land Information 
  • Minister for Rural Communities 
  • Minister for Trade and Export Growth 

(12) Hon Stuart Nash 

  • Minister for Economic and Regional Development 
  • Minister of Forestry 
  • Minister for Small Business Minister of Tourism 

(13) Hon Peeni Henare 

  • Minister of Defence 
  • Minister for Whānau Ora (Family health) 
  • Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) 
  • Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) 
  • Associate Minister of Tourism 

(14) Hon Willie Jackson 

  • Minister for Broadcasting and Media 
  • Minister for Māori Development 
  • Associate Minister for ACC 

(15) Hon Jan Tinetti  

  • Minister of Internal Affairs 
  • Minister for Women 
  • Associate Minister of Education (School Operations) 

(16) Hon Michael Wood 

  • Minister of Immigration 
  • Minister of Transport 
  • Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety 

(17) Hon Kiri Allan 

  • Minister of Justice 
  • Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage 
  • Associate Minister for the Environment Associate Minister of Finance 

(18) Hon Dr David Clark 

  • Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs 
  • Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications 
  • Minister for State Owned Enterprises 
  • Minister of Statistics 
  • Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission 

(19) Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall 

  • Minister for COVID-19 Response 
  • Minister of Research, Science and Innovation 
  • Minister for Seniors 
  • Associate Minister of Health 

(20) Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan 

  • Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector 
  • Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities 
  • Minister for Youth 
  • Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment 
  • Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety 
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