Poto Williams: The new minister with a new $200k+ salary

Labour MP Poto Williams has been officially promoted to Minister outside of Cabinet, which grants her a range of perks, including a much higher salary.

As a Minister outside of Cabinet, Williams has the full legal power of a minister, and can be appointed a full portfolio. But she will not attend Cabinet, unless with the Prime Minister's agreement.

Williams, the MP for Christchurch East, is now the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, and is the Associate Minister for Social Development, Immigration, and Greater Christchurch Regeneration. 

As a minister, Williams will enjoy new perks, including the option of using a chauffeur-driven car arranged by VIP Transport at any time for any purpose, at her own discretion.

Williams was previously Assistant Speaker of the House, the yearly salary of which is $179,713. In her new role as a Minister outside of Cabinet, Williams will be earning $249,839.

Williams - the second Cook Islander elected to Parliament after National MP Alfred Ngaro - was sworn in by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy on Wednesday, where she was appointed her portfolios.

"It's an absolute honour and a privilege. I'm a little overwhelmed I have to say, and it's a big day for my family," Williams said at Government House.

Her daughter and son-in-law attended the ceremony, as well as her sister and uncle, who she described as her "surrogate parent".

Poto Williams at her signing in ceremony at Government House, sitting next to Kris Faafoi was promoted to Cabinet Minister.
Poto Williams at her signing in ceremony at Government House, sitting next to Kris Faafoi was promoted to Cabinet Minister. Photo credit: Newshub

"It's a big day for them. They've supported me throughout my career and in many ways - but just really, really grateful that they're here. You can't do this work on your own, and it's really great when you've got a great back-up team like I have.

"I'm really grateful for the Prime Minister's support in this and really hoping to live up to the expectation that she's placed on my shoulders. I know that I can contribute to the wellbeing agenda that our Prime Minister has set for us."

Williams has worked managing community health and community mental health services, residential disability services, working with single parent families, youth services, family violence and refuge.

As Associate Justice spokesperson in 2017, Williams called for a "more sympathetic" approach by the courts towards people who have experienced sexual violence. 

"I know I've got the background and experience and can contribute to [the wellbeing agenda], and I want to leverage my connections into the community to really bolster the support that we have out there for the work of the Government."

Williams and the Prime Minister visiting The Loft - Community and Wellbeing Hub in Christchurch in May.
Williams and the Prime Minister visiting The Loft - Community and Wellbeing Hub in Christchurch in May. Photo credit: Getty

Educated at Manukau Institute of Technology and Southern Cross University, Williams became MP for Christchurch East at a by-election in November 2013. She won the electorate in 2014, defeating National MP Jo Hayes.

During the 2017 election, Williams retained the electorate, defeating Hayes again. That same year she was elected to the office of Assistant Speaker of the House.

Part of the new minister's focus in her home city Christchurch will be on the rebuild after the 2011 earthquakes, under her Associate Minister of Greater Christchurch Regeneration portfolio.

The minister for the portfolio is Megan Woods who, in the Prime Minister's recent Cabinet reshuffle, was appointed the new Housing Minister.  

Ardern said it will "likely be the case" that Williams will pick up many of the delegations under the regeneration portfolio to help Woods.

Newshub.

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