ACT, National decry Cabinet reshuffle, say it won't change Government's 'lack of delivery'

Despite the Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle, there's still an "underlying problem" of a "lack of talent and good policy", ACT leader David Seymour claims.

Jacinda Ardern revealed on Monday a number of changes to the Cabinet line-up following announcements that Kris Faafoi and Speaker Trevor Mallard are leaving politics.

The big changes are:

  • Kiri Allan will become Justice Minister and Michael Wood picks up Immigration Minister
  • Adrian Rurawhe will be nominated as Speaker
  • Priyanca Radhakrishnan moves into Cabinet and gains Associate Workplace Relations and Safety
  • Kieran McAnulty becomes a Minister outside of Cabinet with a focus on regional issues, picking up Emergency Management and Racing. Duncan Webb will take over as Chief Whip
  • Chris Hipkins takes over Police from Poto Williams and passes COVID-19 Response to Dr Ayesha Verrall.

In the announcement on Monday afternoon, Ardern said Faafoi decided to leave Parliament to spend more time with his family as his son starts school. She added that Mallard had signalled in 2020 he wanted to transition out of his Speaker role over this term to allow someone else the opportunity and to take on new challenges.

With Williams leaving her role as Police Minister, she takes on Conservation and Disability Issues in its place.

"I have also made the decision to change Poto Williams out of the Police portfolio," Ardern said.

"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."

But the changes haven't gone over well at the ACT Party, and Seymour said the reshuffle doesn't change the Government's "lack of talent".

"The Prime Minister's major reshuffle of Cabinet has shuffled the deck chairs but the underlying problem is a lack of talent and good policy," he said.

"ACT welcomes the departure of Poto Williams as Police Minister, but the choice of Chris Hipkins shows the lack of talent within Labour's caucus. This is the second time Hipkins has been wheeled out to save a flailing minister, first David Clark, now Poto Williams.

"They have no reserve bench, just Chris Hipkins the super sub."

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Getty Images

Seymour also said keeping Nanaia Mahuta in her roles "shows a lack of leadership".

"She is clearly too distracted by her unpopular and anti-democratic Three Waters programme to focus on New Zealand's role in a dramatically changing geopolitical environment," he said.

"The Prime Minister should have shown she values New Zealand's global reputation by freeing up the Minister to work on that, and that she listens to New Zealanders who are overwhelmingly against Three Waters."

He also commented on "asleep at the wheel Kris Faafoi" leaving Parliament.

"The only people more excited than Kris will be people overseas and their families hoping that Michael Wood can somehow fix the Immigration department that has been so completely 'Faafed' under the previous minister."

And bringing on Allan as Justice Minister means there's now a chance to "stomp out divisive hate speech laws and bring back Three Strikes legislation". 

"Sadly this reshuffle shows no awareness of the problems occurring under this Government, or any ambition to turn things around," Seymour said.

"Those who rely on working to pay rising bills need hope, this Government isn't giving it to them. Under Labour, the gap between the median wage in New Zealand and Australia has grown $6600 - and there appears to be no strategy to make things better.

"This reshuffle amounts to business as usual for Labour, unfortunately that means Kiwis are taking their business elsewhere."

National Party leader Christopher Luxon had a similar view that the reshuffle wouldn't change the Government's "lack of delivery".

"Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's replacement of Poto Williams as Police Minister is an acknowledgement of a lack of leadership at a time when violent crime and gang activity are on the increase. Indeed, the Prime Minister this afternoon admitted that her Government's focus on law and order had been lost," he said.

"While it seems that the Prime Minister has been pressed into making the changes due to pressure from the media and Opposition, a change in minister will not be enough on its own.

"What Police need is leadership from the Government and powers to confront New Zealand's growing problem with violent crime."

Christopher Luxon.
Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub.

Luxon also said it's "good news" that Mallard is leaving. He said National had lost confidence in him and would support Rurawhe's nomination.

"But there is nothing in the changes announced today that suggest that the Labour Government is focused on the issues that matter for Kiwis, whether it be crime, the economy or the cost of living crisis," he said.

"Labour reshuffling the deck chairs won't change the fact that this Government cannot deliver for New Zealanders.

"A Government I lead will be ruthlessly focused on outcomes and the types of interventions that make a difference in Kiwis' lives."

The Cabinet reshuffle was welcomed by chair of the National Māori Authority Matthew Tukaki, who said the changes give further stability as New Zealand emerges from COVID-19.

Tukaki said he was especially pleased to see the elevation of Allan, the intended nomination of Rurawhe, and the further elevation of Jackson.

"To be honest the elevation of these ministers and Adrian is again proof in the pudding that Māori policy-making, skills and experience need to be front and centre - these are positive changes," he said.

"As someone who has also worked with Poto Williams and Kris Faafoi can I say their contribution has been immense and while the Police portfolio has been tough to manage given recent events, Poto Williams has always acted with integrity. I am particularly pleased to see she won't be lost from Cabinet and equally pleased to see her in a role with communities and our New Zealanders with a disability."