Ardern promises proactive govt, regional support as she names Labour Cabinet members
By Sophie Boot
Oct. 20 (BusinessDesk) - Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern has announced her cabinet, although their portfolios will stay unknown until next week.
The Labour Party's cabinet positions will be held by Ardern, David Clark, Clare Curran, Kelvin Davis, Chris Hipkins, Iain Lees-Galloway, Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, Stuart Nash, Damien O’Connor, David Parker, Grant Robertson, Jenny Salesa, Carmel Sepuloni, Phil Twyford and Megan Woods. Ministers outside cabinet are Kris Faafoi, Peeni Henare, Willie Jackson, Aupito William Sio, and Meka Whaitiri.
Coalition partner New Zealand First will have four positions inside cabinet and the Green Party will have three positions outside cabinet, bringing the total executive to 28 members. Winston Peters has not yet said whether he will take up the role of deputy prime minister which he has been offered, but the two have spoken today and will continue to speak this weekend.
In his speech last night, NZ First leader Winston Peters said many New Zealanders had come to view capitalism as a foe, and they were not all wrong to do so. Ardern today said that the government of the last nine years had been hands-off, but in her term "you will see a proactive government; one that ensures we are investing in our regions, that we are investing in infrastructure, that we are investing directly in areas that will lead to job creation and growth.
"We want a more productive economy, so we will invest in skills and training, we will invest in innovation. We will be a very proactive government."
Ardern said she hoped a swearing-in ceremony would be held on Thursday morning. She said she had high hopes Trevor Mallard will be the next speaker of the house, and the Labour caucus supported him, but she didn't want to pre-empt the views of NZ First and the Greens.
A climate act and all gases, all-sectors emissions trading scheme will be passed into law, with details to be released in the parties' agreements next week, Ardern said. NZ First advocated for supporting the regions during negotiations and that has been reflected in the agreement, she said.
Ardern said she was considering whether to split some portfolios, such as transport or moving forestry out of the Ministry for Primary Industries. Forestry could end up being located in Rotorua, she said. "I'm going to be very cautious to make sure I don't break up those portfolios beyond what makes sense," she said.
As has been the case for past prime ministers, Ardern will hold the Intelligence Services portfolio as prime minister. She said she intends to have a role in the Children's portfolio but it would be unwise to be involved with specific cases.
Ardern said she wasn't happy with the gender balance in her cabinet, which will include just six women out of the sixteen total members. She said it was important to encourage more women up through the ranks of the party to improve the situation.
Ardern committed to holding a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana use in the next three years, but said it would cost less than half of the two flag referenda which collectively cost $27 million. She said she wasn't sure how she would vote, and "was looking to see where the debate takes us ... a justice-based approach to cannabis in this country isn't working, and we can do better."
The press conference ended with Ardern saying she needed to call the governor-general. She has already spoken to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and will speak to UK Prime Minister Theresa May tonight.