Cabinet reshuffle: Shifting the problem doesn't always fix it, political commentator says

A political commentator says while some ministers were underperforming, a Cabinet reshuffle won't fix the issues facing the Government's major portfolios.

Chris Hipkins is waking up to his first day as Police Minister following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Cabinet reshuffle on Monday.

The reshuffle was largely sparked by now-former Police Minister Poto Williams' demotion and Justice Minister Kris Faafoi's resignation. 

But political commentator Trish Sherson, a former ACT Party staffer, said shifting the problem doesn't always fix it. 

"The bigger thing to look at from yesterday's reshuffle… what it actually showed us is: you can't have a winning deck without any aces in it," she told AM on Tuesday.

"You've shuffled things around but you've put more responsibility on to Chris Hipkins, who's already got a lot. You've put Building and Construction on to Megan Woods, who already has a lot 

"The big questions are: will it turn the polls? I think the answer's probably no. 

"Will it actually fix the issues? Again, I'd say the answer is no because the policy settings aren't changing."

But former Labour Party president Mike Williams, appearing on AM alongside Sherson, had a different view. He told host Ryan Bridge the reshuffle's timing was right because Opposition leader Christopher Luxon was starting to "drop the ball".

"We heard his answer to the gang problem last Saturday which is, 'Make them change their jackets.' Well, whoop-de-doo," Mike Williams said, referring to a speech Luxon made at the weekend where he attacked Labour and promised that, if elected, his National Party would get tough on gangs. 

"There's no substance to it," he added. 

"I think the timing of this [reshuffle] announcement is very good."

He noted he never thought Poto Williams was fit for the Police portfolio.

"I think she had the wrong kind of personality for a Police Minister. I don't think it was a good choice, to begin with - she's a got a soft, warm personality and you really need to be able to be a bit of a hard nut if you're going to be Police Minister." 

Meanwhile, Hipkins had already been called on to pick up the pieces of the Police portfolio less than a day into the job - with the Dairy Owners' Association writing to him asking for more protections for store owners. The association said Hipkins' predecessor Williams' $6 million crime support package didn't go far enough. 

Williams had been under fire in recent weeks over her performance in the Police portfolio, with Luxon last week calling for her to be replaced amid a spate of gang shootings and ram-raid robberies. 

Political commentator Josie Pagani believed making Hipkins the Police Minister was a good move. 

"Poto Williams failed to recognise that, actually, people are generally worried about crime," she told Newshub Live at 8pm on Monday.

However, Pagani said Hipkins can't keep being Labour's "Mr fix it".

Hipkins picked up the pieces of the Health portfolio in 2020 following David Clark's resignation. Dr Clark, at the time, faced intense media scrutiny for twice breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules and publicly blaming Ashley Bloomfield, the popular Director-General of Health, for mistakes made in hotel quarantine coronavirus testing. 

Hipkins went on to pick up the newly-created COVID-19 Response portfolio at election 2020 and has had arguably one of the toughest ministerial jobs - guiding New Zealand through some of the toughest stages of the pandemic.

"I would say that every Government needs more than one superhero and Chris Hipkins is wheeled out every time there's a crisis," Pagani said.