Michael Wood: The new Transport Minister tasked with turning light rail from pipe dream to reality

Michael Wood is the new Transport Minister tasked with turning Auckland's light rail from pipe dream to reality, taking over from Phil Twyford who oversaw two of Labour's big disappointments.

Wood will work closely in his new role with Grant Robertson, who himself has picked up a trifecta of new responsibilities - he's the new Deputy Prime Minister, Racing Minister and Infrastructure Minister. 

The infrastructure portfolio - previously filled by former New Zealand First MP Shane Jones - will be key to the Government's COVID-19 recovery. 

"We have to deliver and that delivery will come down to us coordinating our activity well," Robertson told reporters in Wellington on Tuesday. 

The infrastructure programme will span from schools to transport, and that's where Wood comes in - fresh to Cabinet, he's picked up transport and workplace relations.

"That's really special," Wood told Newshub. "It's a real honour."

Previous Transport Minister Phil Twyford was ejected from Cabinet on Monday after failing to impress with the Government's housing programme KiwiBuild. 

Twyford also failed on transport targets, with a promise to build light rail from Auckland CBD to the airport nowhere to be seen. 

"I am disappointed that we haven't been able to get this across the line," he said in June.  

Twyford blamed New Zealand First, Labour's then-coalition partner, for that and more. 

"Industrial relations reform or the capital gains tax or light rail - New Zealand First, they've got their views about those things."

The prospect of a capital gains tax has been ruled out by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern under her leadership. 

Wood won't be able to use New Zealand First as an excuse anymore. It's his job alone to take the handbrake off two of those three projects - industrial relations reform and light rail. 

"If you can't achieve what you want the first time and you just give up on it, you're not much good to anyone," Wood told Newshub. "If you believe in something, and you have a stumble, you pick yourself up and you move forward."

As for workplace relations, his priority is "to make sure that we don't exacerbate inequalities in our economy. We want all workers to get a fair share of their income for the work that they do". 

Wood has a trade union background and confirmed to Stuff that he is keen to progress Labour's Fair Pay Agreement (FPAs) policy, which was held up by NZ First.

ACT's workplace relations and safety spokesperson Chris Baillie responded saying Labour's FPAs will "take industrial relations back to the 1970s". 

Despite Monday's massive announcement - the most diverse Cabinet ever - the halls in Parliament are even more echoey than usual. Six interviews - with politicians who have gained or lost portfolios - were all turned down.