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Labour’s cabinet

Written By: - Date published: 1:48 pm, November 2nd, 2020 - 78 comments
Categories: grant robertson, jacinda ardern, Kelvin Davis, labour, phil twyford, uncategorized - Tags:

The cabinet has been announced and it is a reasonably remarkable shake up.

Some highlights:

  • Grant Robertson will be Deputy Prime Minister, Kelvin Davis having previously declared that he did not want the position.
  • Andrew Little picks up Health.
  • Phil Twyford is demoted to outside of Cabinet and Michael Wood picks up Transport.
  • Carmel Sepuloni gains the Arts.
  • Nanaia Mahuta is Minister of Foreign Affairs and retains Local Government.
  • Poto Williams picks up Police.
  • Peeni Henare enters Cabinet and picks up Defence.
  • Ayesha Verrall enters Cabinet and is an associate Minister of Health with responsibility for Public Health.
  • Michael Wood enters Cabinet and picks up Transport and Industrial Relations.
  • Kiri Allen enters Cabinet and picks up Conservation.
  • David Clark returns to Cabinet [and Meka Whaitiri becomes a Minister outside of cabinet].
  • Red Deb becomes an Undersecretary for Revenue.

This represents considerable change and is more radical than many were thinking would happen.  Jacinda Ardern is clearly in control.

78 comments on “Labour’s cabinet ”

  1. Visubversa 2

    Great to see Michael Wood in Transport. As the proposed Light Rail for Auckland runs through a lot of his electorate, it will help to get this much needed project back on track.

  2. Darien Fenton 3

    Great to see also Michael Wood in Workplace Relations. Unions can work with him. He is one of us with a long history in standing up for workers. Not so sure about ACC which has a very important connection, but has been given to another minister. We will see.

  3. Dennis Frank 4

    Other interesting selections:

    Nanaia Mahuta will be Foreign Affairs Minister. She is New Zealand's first female Foreign Affairs Minister.

    Kris Faafoi retains Immigration and Broadcasting, and also becomes Justice Minister.

    Willie Jackson will be in Cabinet and have Maori Development.


    Willie is at #15 but he's so sharp he ought to be top ten. Mahuta doing foreign relations will be intriguing! A lateral thinking move, that one…

    • Patricia Bremner 4.1

      Nanaia Mahuta has worked over a huge area very effectively. She would be one of the most able in forming and retaining relationships. I am pleased for her and for us. She will be an excellent representative, completely genuine and dignified.

      • left for dead 4.1.1


      • RobbieWgtn 4.1.2

        If Mahuta is the answer to Foreign Affairs Adern wasn't asking the right question

        • xanthe

          what was the question?

        • Patricia Bremner

          What should the question be? Our direction may be more pacific area for the next 3 covid years.

        • left for dead

          Who is Adern @ "RobbieWgtn".Are you not thinking of the Nat tractor driver (farting out of his mouth) up the steeps of Parliament.

        • Gabby

          Is that question 'Who's the grey haired guy who looks best in a flash suit?'?

        • RobbieWgtn


          "No amount of fluffing-up the elevation of Nanaia Mahuta to Minister of Foreign Affairs – “the first woman in our nation’s history appointed to hold the portfolio” – can disguise the sheer awfulness and irresponsibility of Ardern’s decision.

          The job should have gone to David Parker: not only because he has earned it many times over, but also because, in the years between now and the next election, New Zealand is going to need a truly outstanding Foreign Minister. Regardless of who wins the 3 November presidential election, the conflict between the USA and China is going to ramp-up into something with the potential to inflict huge damage on this country and its economy. New Zealand needs a Foreign Minister of vision, courage, verbal felicity and real, on-the-ground, experience. Mahuta, sadly, has not distinguished herself as a person over-endowed with any of these qualities"

    • Bruce Ellis 4.2

      There also seems to be some good groupings of environmental (including conservation and climate change) that will hopefully see some real push in these areas.

      Haven't seen your posts for awhile and apologies for being somewhat off topic, but what did you think of the New Plymouth result. Cheers

      • Dennis Frank 4.2.1

        Yeah sometimes feels right to disengage awhile, Bruce. I liked the switch to Labour here. Thought the Nat fella a typical dork. I've never been pro-Labour as such (nor ever pro-Nat) but I like the fresh approach Ardern is taking & hope she transcends her default to neoliberalism this term.

        A point worth noting is that the Green candidate here had to pull out. Since the couple of thousand votes the Greens would have pulled away from Labour eclipse the winning Labour majority of around 1500 it's feasible the Nat nonentity would have survived the landslide…

    • Marcus Morris 4.3

      Very pleased to Willie there.

  4. tc 5

    Good to see a shakeup and I see others have had portfolios removed. Bye Phil.

  5. Kay 6

    David Clark set an extremely low bar for a Health Minister.

    Little must've volunteered, I don't think it's the first choice for most aspiring Ministers. He just might surprise us all.

    • Craig H 6.1

      I think David Clark got more done than people give him credit for, but his reputation certainly took a hammering from his actions just before and during the first Covid lockdown.

      • greywarshark 6.1.1

        That's a thought, if Clark wanted to clear his head he made an unfortunate choice at that particular time. It probably reflects how closely involved Ministers are with their own business, to the exclusion of other aspects, because the work expands to fill their days and nights.

      • Peter 6.1.2

        In our political climate we're far less interested in effectiveness and getting stuff done than reputation. Headlines is the go.

        Any Minister not in the headlines and getting column space apparently is doing nothing. Any Minister in the headlines is there because someone wants to bitch about them.

    • Marcus Morris 6.2

      I have heard that David Clark was a very effective Minister of Health who let himself down with those incidents involving Covid. If you source your information I will do some more research as well.

    • Patricia Bremner 6.3

      Kay I heard or read that Andrew will be in charge of Disabilities. He is genuine in all he does, so that has to be better than the current situation hopefully.

    • Grafton Gully 6.4

      "We are an evidence-based health promotion organisation, influencing all sectors that contribute to health and wellbeing."


      "Influencing" sectors not good enough – more carefully targeted legislation like Clark's Smoke-free Environments Act is required.

      Little strikes me as a determined, level headed, get on with it sort of guy, so I'm hopeful he will tackle NZ's heavy burden of preventable disease.

  6. anker 7

    Some real surprizes. Little = Health Mahuta = foreign affairs.

    • Tiger Mountain 7.1

      With the multiple unions involved in Health, more coordination could only assist. Mr Little knows a bit about unions and the managerial approach of DHBs.

      Ms Mahuta will likely raise things with US State Dept. that they barely know exist!

  7. froggleblocks 8

    Meka is outside cabinet.

    [Thanks have corrected – MS]

  8. Craig H 9

    Kelvin Davis as Minister for Children and Poto Williams as Associate Minister looks like a good team. Poto promoted to cabinet and Minister of Police is also recognition of her skills.

  9. Stuart Munro 10

    Nothing particularly frightening I think. More of interest will be what they set out to do, and the extent to which they are able to achieve it.

    If we are reading entrails, Mahuta for foreign affairs suggests a less Eurocentric focus. Phil Twyford's star appears to be waning.

  10. anker 11

    David Seymour banging on about Labour's lack of talent……….Yeah like Aysha Verrall.

    Seymour needs to watch himself. He is in danger of becoming the new Simon Bridges. Yaps about everything. Good for very little

    • Patricia Bremner 11.1

      David's crowd shoot you know!! (probably from the mouth or hip and hopefully into their own feet). haha!!

    • Dean Reynolds 11.2

      Seymour's in danger of becoming the new bow tied cockatoo – Peter Dunne was returned in 2002 with a gaggle of oddball MP's with very little in common except that they were all right wing crazies. His caucus soon fell apart & the same will happen to Seymour.

      Incidentally, Jon Young the Nat's recent ex MP for New Plymouth, is the son of Ven Young, (one of Muldoon's cabinet) & the sister of Audrey Young, political reporter for the 'Herald'.

      • Marcus Morris 11.2.1

        That's interesting. Didn't realise that Audrey Young was so "well connected" but it explains a lot.

        I turned the Panel off this evening after I heard Stephen Franks' opening comments and wont bother listening when and if he is on again. A right wing prat. We dont need another Michelle Boag.

    • Peter 11.3

      That is a real slur on David Seymour. You have not been paying attention.

      Seymour needs to watch himself? He has been yapping for years about anything he knew would get a headline. The nitty gritty stuff like their education policies? When was the last time you heard him on about those? And getting rid of school zoning in Epsom? You know real stuff.

      No he was in the Deep South capitalising on racist attitude to steal National votes. It worked. That's the game he plays.

  11. Rosemary McDonald 12

    I don't see an Ass. Min. Health (Disability).

    Last innings it was initially Julie Anne Genter's potato, which she flicked it off to an equally unenthusiastic Jenny Salesa.

    • Patricia Bremner 12.1

      Andrew Little I believe.

      • Rosemary McDonald 12.1.1

        Hon Andrew Little

        Minister of Health Minister Responsible for the GCSB Minister Responsible for the NZSIS Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry


        No mention of Disability… which for many years has had an Associate Minister of Health assigned this role.

        • Craig H

          Minister for Disability Issues is Carmel Sepuloni.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            Minister for Disability Issues is Carmel Sepuloni.

            ODI sits within MSD.

            For many if not most people with disability, the Ministry of Health dictates and controls what (if any) supports they get.

            That is why successive governments have had and Associate Minister of Health with specific responsibility for Disability. Just like they have one for Maori and Pacific interests.

            • weka

              What's the ideal here? A new department, and merge WINZ and ACC for income issues (and maybe put DSS in there, and let disabled people make their own choices about how to spend the funding). Do you think a new department would circumvent the cultural issues at MoH, or that they would just import them with managers and staff?

              • Rosemary McDonald

                Do you think a new department would circumvent the cultural issues at MoH, or that they would just import them with managers and staff?

                Nothing but a complete purge of anyone who has worked for MOH prior to say 2017 would work. Get them out…all of them…and when rehiring make damn sure that one in four new staff either has a disability (not covered by ACC) or is very close to someone with a disability (not covered by ACC).

                All new policy has to be from a rights-based perspective. Establish entitlement to funded supports…none of this 'you may be eligible but you you're entitled to nothing' shit that has fueled over twenty years of meglomaniacal bureaucracy.

                These petty minded pen-pushers…be they work directly for the Ministry or for one of their contracted providers (like the NASCs or Enable)… must be made to respect clinicians and allied professionals. If an OT, after hours of measuring and testing and observing form and function of a client puts in a request for funding for a particular wheelchair or other bit of kit…then they really need to stop being power crazed arseholes and fund the fucking thing.

                Seriously…somewhere deep in the bowels of the MOH accounting/budget system will be a number that truly represents the actual cost of their administrative system that seems to has saying "Funding Declined" as its default setting.

                These people revel in kicking folk when they're literally down.

  12. observer 13

    It's fun to review the changing attack lines from the opposition over the past 3 years.

    First it was stardust, the part-time PM. Then they grudgingly acknowledged her leadership – but it was only her, they said. Then they expanded that to 2 people ("it's only Ardern and Robertson, they've got nobody else"). Then it was "17 empty chairs" (Todd Muller's line), so I'm not sure who had become the 3rd decent Minister. Eventually they went full-on "what have the Romans done for us?", basically saying "Apart from Ardern and Robertson and Hipkins and Woods and so on, who have they got?".

    Twyford was their last bullet. Fired.

    Meanwhile, National's "strong team" became such a joke they had to take it off their own billboards.

  13. Scott 14

    Am interested in people's comments/what people know of those who missed out, particularly from the 2017 cohort.

    Nothing for Kieran McAnulty?

    Or Jo Luxton? Like the idea of more provincial representation.

    Still the odd old-timer there being looked after.

    Why did Jenny Salesa get dumped?

    Would have been happy for Twyford and Clark to not have anything – don't care how unlucky they may have been.

    And Jackson as Maori Development? I know he's been very strategical for the party but I don't trust him to not get caught up in controversy and undo everyone elses good work.

    • Zuszsa 14.1

      I'm surprised that Kieran McAnulty didn't pick up something. I thought he was one of the standouts of 2017 mob and is well suited to a regional development/rural affairs type role.

      Kiri Allen is the other 2017 standout, pleased for her.

      I believe Jenny Salesa is to be asst speaker. She didn't set the world alight as a minister, but she didn't appear to be as incompetent as some. A minor mystery.

      • Tricledrown 14.1.1

        Looks like Labour are going for hard working MP's for cabinet those who can't keep up with the workloads have been set aside.

        Every Party has it's high performing MP's and Parties can't afford to have underperforming Cabinet members.

      • newsense 14.1.2

        McNulty chief whip. All I heard about him was his ute. What's his background?

  14. DS 15

    Hipkins staying on at Education is disappointment. Students' Associations will need to do some lobbying to twist his arm on restoring universal student membership.

    (Getting backbench MPs to spam the private members bills might be a start).

  15. Ad 16

    Deborah Russell deserved more, a lot more.

    Competent, bright.

    Could have given her Tertiary Education and IRD for a reasonable package.

    Talent wont wait around forever.

    • Anne 16.1

      The problem with Kieran McAnulty and Deborah Russell is they're Pakeha. They were sacrificed to diversity. When diversity wins over talent then something is not quite right.

      • RobbieWgtn 16.1.1

        When diversity wins over talent businesses are uncompetitive & fail. The inconvenient truth is that its private enterprise & profits which ultimately fund society, incomes, welfare/charity, Central & local govt….

        • Draco T Bastard

          Profits don't fund society. In fact, they're a tax on society.

          When the economy is drained of money, which is what profits do, then the economy grinds to a halt.

      • observer 16.1.2

        Salesa is out, Tinetti and Wood are up, David Clark is back and McAnulty is the chief whip, and in a majority government that's a position arguably more important than some ministerial roles. So I doubt it's as simple as "diversity over talent".

        Two thirds of caucus had to miss out.

        • RedBaronCV

          With such a large number of MP's I'd be more impressed if they formed them up into interest groups to support the various ministers maybe with special interests of their own to be expert in. Nats are very good at rolling out incremental small pieces of change rather than blockbuster stuff and frankly labour needs to do the same. It's the sort of small stuff that can make a big difference and needs champions. Plus Labour needs to have a good cean out of a lot of the board appointments etc that still hangover from the Nacts. And a Mobie restructure.

        • Anne

          Not as simple as that observer.

          As a long time member of the Labour Party, I have witnessed the fallout from an over indulgence in bias masquerading as diversity. Diversity is not wrong. I'm all for it. But when it interferes with the smooth running of an organisation it can have detrimental effects.

          A good example was the so-called man-ban of 2012 I think it was. Firstly it was unnecessary because the number of women in the Labour caucus was steadily increasing and was only just short of the 50% ratio when the remit was dropped on the conference floor. Secondly the stalwarts extended it to include all committees from parliamentary Labour committees down to the individual Labour electorate committees. It was absurd to the point electorates faced the prospect of losing valuable activists and workers simply because they were male. Many electorates such as the one I belonged to didn’t have enough women willing to serve on the committees anyway.

          Fortunately commonsense finally prevailed and the autocratic nature of the man-ban remit was quietly dumped by the electorates and normal transmission resumed.

      • Patricia Bremner 16.1.3

        Kieran was given a job, Deborah Russell needs to learn discretion is the better part of valour.

        No person in this cabinet was picked because they were brown. That is a slur. With 64 people to choose from, some were always going to miss a slot this time round, and Jacinda said non- preforming ministers would lose their jobs. Hard work will be rewarded then.

        • Anne

          No person in this cabinet was picked because they were brown.

          I did not say they were selected because they were brown.

          Someone commented on the fact that two widely recognised talented MPs from the 1917 intake were not included. I ventured to suggest that the reason was the desire for a diverse range of ministers and the two in question were both Pakeha. Pakeha have been the dominant force inside Cabinets since forever.

          I am not against diversity – quite the opposite. But there are occasions when it can be taken a little too far. That doesn't seem to be the case in this instance, but I gave an example @ where, imo, it did go too far and ended up causing problems at a local level at the least.

          Btw, I don’t indulge in racist slurs.

    • Cantabrian 16.2

      Couldn't agree more Ad.

    • Mika 16.3

      I've seen a prickly side to Deborah Russell. She attended a meeting I was involved with, and on which she disagreed with the meeting organisers (fair enough), but entered the building absolutely bristling with animosity. Another Labour MP was also in attendance, and also in disagreement, but was able to be warm and gracious to meeting organisers whilst making her opposing view. The three of us on the door at this meeting were all Labour party members or voters, and were quite taken aback by her manner. I'm sure she's very clever, but she may just not have the required EQ.

      • Peter 16.3.1

        She should be made aware of your observation. I think she is entitled to her feelings and the expression of them. She is also entitled to know "this is what it looked like and felt like."

        At the same time as she may have been doing that and alienating and pissing 10 people (voters) off, some other MP may have been sweating bricks and by their demeanour and display convinced 3 people (voters) of their worth and the party's worth. You can't afford to have someone drilling holes in the bottom of the wake.

      • Cantabrian 16.3.2

        Doctorates can do that to people. I've noticed that in myself since I got one and often you have to reign yourself back and remember some humility.

      • Anne 16.3.3

        I went to a campaign function a few weeks ago where Deborah Russell was speaking. I saw no signs of 'prickliness' but it doesn't mean to say it hasn't happened. I'm sure most people are guilty of it from time to time.

        As Ad said @ 16, talent does not wait forever, and while its still early days for Deborah, she is a very talented MP with a lot of extremely valuable expertise in the field of taxation in particular.

        • Peter

          You are right about things happening and everyone being guilty of this and that. We all ebb and flow, and beauty or not is in the eyes of a beholder – who might just be having a prickly day.

          No-one is onto it every single moment of every single day but 'you don't get a second chance to make a first (and lasting) impression" waits for no woman.

  16. Don't forget everyone that the ministers are elected by the caucus and then the PM allocates portfolios. This might explain why McNulty, Debra Russell and Duncan Webb missed out.

    [Corrected minor error in user name]

    • Rapunzel 17.1

      Not "missed out" there are only so many places but they still have important roles :"McAnulty is the chief whip, and in a majority government that's a position arguably more important than some ministerial roles."

  17. gingercrush 18

    Does the caucus not vote for people into the cabinet. Like is that not a thing anymore?

    • zuszsa 18.1

      I didn't think this happened anymore. I'd be interested in finding out for sure

    • Ad 18.2

      Not on a majority this big, led by a PM riding this scale of victory.

      The list was just presented.

      • Craig H 18.2.1

        Mike Williams said this morning that he thought Jacinda may have followed Helen Clark's model of giving a list of around 17 names and inviting Caucus to add the rest.

      • Patricia Bremner 18.2.2

        No Ad, Jacinda said she had met with all applicants for positions to discuss strengths and preferences… so the list was not compiled in isolation.

  18. Maurice 19

    The appointment of Select Committee chairpersons will be just as interesting.

  19. Brokenback 20

    Faafoi as Minister of Justice ?????

    Clear indication that the much needed urgent reform of the Courts, Criminal Procedures Act , Misuse of drugs Act , archaic Evidence Act and blowtorching of the Crown Solicitor have been consigned to the ‘do Nothing perhaps they won’t notice ‘ box.

    The outcome of the Dotcom fiasco and the revelations of the Crown’s machinations coming out of the Abuse in Care enquiry mean throw away Kris is in for a rough ride straight off the starting line.

    Megan Woods , is completely out of her depth in dealing with Energy , arguably the critical sector to be dealt with[ constructively] if transformation and sustainability are to have any meaning other than catchy slogans .
    Housing as well ?? This will not end well .

    The detractors are seriously under-estimating the intelligence & capability of Nania Mahuta -she will be fine . Her BS detector will be a very useful tool in dealing with her ministry although she would be much better utilised in dealing with any of the critical internal ministries riddled with neo-lib toadies. Unfortunately we can’t have a confirmed lefty rocking those foundations.

    I’ve posted previously on this Cabinet being the mark of Arden’s political nous and we have a clear perception now of what she stands for.

    Neo-Liberal/Blairite/ Tory with a red dress.

  20. newsense 21

    Faafoi's proposal for broadcasting didn't immediately make me think Justice. But we'll see…solid work overall from Ardern and caucus.

    Mahuta a bold choice, who may be missing the rollodex Peters had, but certainly brings plenty of quality to the job.

    Someone told me Phil Goff's genius was to never forget anyone, make sure that cards were sent and that kind of thing. Will be a challenge to approach places and build relationships with those that might have greeted Peters more readily, but the Labour vote will give her authority too. A very symbolic and interesting appointment. It lifted me to hear it.

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