Chris Hipkins reveals who's picking up Kiri Allan's ministerial portfolios

The Prime Minister has revealed who is taking on Kiri Allan's ministerial portfolios after she was arrested and charged on Sunday night.

Chris Hipkins said Ginny Andersen will become the Minister of Justice and Kieran McAnulty will become the Minister for Regional Development.

Grant Robertson is already leading the Government's initiatives supporting communities impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. He will take over the lead coordination role for Tairāwhiti. 

Additionally, "at his request" David Parker will pass on Revenue to Barbara Edmonds, freeing him up to focus on transport. Edmonds will also become the Associate Minister of Finance.

She will relinquish her Associate Health role which will be redistributed amongst other health ministers. 

Damien O'Connor will pick up Associate Transport and will support Parker in that role.

Allan had been involved in a car crash on Evans Bay Parade in Wellington shortly after 9pm on Sunday and was taken to the Wellington Central Police Station before being released at about 1am.

She was charged with careless use of a motor vehicle and refusing to accompany a police officer, and will appear in court at a later date. Allan was also issued an infringement notice for excess breath alcohol between 250 and 400mcg.

At his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Hipkins said Allan was offered more time off but said she wanted to get back to work.

"I made sure she had got support, that she had been seeing a counsellor ... I did not compel her to stay away from work."

He said Allan was very well-supported and the issues around ministerial conduct were unrelated to mental health.

"Kiri had very good support from colleagues," Hipkins said. "We had arranged professional support for her. One of the conditions of returning to work is that she would continue with professional support."

Hipkins said that on Sunday, Allan was "very engaged" in her work and it was consistent with her performance last week. He said there was no hint of any issues in Sunday's conversation when they texted in the morning. He understood there were developments personally for her later in the day.

"I like to think I have handled the situation fairly and with respect. Mental health shouldn't disqualify someone from employment and it hasn't in the past. People should be supported," Hipkins said.

"Kiri has been supported. We have given her time off and I encouraged her to take more time. People can make politics of this, and it appears they are doing [that], but I think they should consider what message that sends to others."

Hipkins commended Allan's "bravery" for speaking openly about her mental health.

"When you are dealing with issues around mental health, that is incredibly difficult. I don't take that lightly. I have taken it seriously from the beginning. I have been guided by feedback from Allan about what will work for her," he said.

"It is really tough. I commend Kiri for speaking openly. It is an absolute tragedy what happened yesterday. It is brave to speak openly, but it is not acceptable it got to that point yesterday."

Allan is still the MP for East Coast, and Hipkins said there is yet to be a discussion on whether it's appropriate for her to stay on as a local MP.

He still believes Labour can win the election and added the campaign is just getting started.

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon spoke to media after the Prime Minister's post-Cabinet press conference. He said his thoughts are with Allan and he hopes she gets the support and help she needs.

Asked what he thought it could mean for Labour, given there's less then three months until the election, Luxon said for National it was "frustrating" because it means "another week discussing drama and personnel issues within the Labour Government".

"[The Government is] not focused on the New Zealand people and the New Zealand people deserve better than this," he said.

"We're in the middle of a recession, we have a cost of living crisis that's staying higher for longer and causing more pain and suffering for New Zealanders ... That's what New Zealanders want the Government focused on."

Christopher Luxon.
Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub.

Luxon was also critical of Hipkins allocating Andersen the Justice portfolio since she'll hold that and Police simultaneously. For any issues that clash between portfolios, these will be given to Associate Justice Minister Deborah Russell.

"There will be conflicts in those two portfolios. I take the Prime Minister at his word that he's going to use delegated authorities with associate ministers to manage those tensions," Luxon said.

"But again, you know, here we go again, another Justice Minister after four different Police Ministers at a time when New Zealanders do not feel safe in their communities, they do not feel safe."

ACT leader David Seymour also spoke after Hipkins concluded his post-Cabinet press conference and he too was critical of Andersen now holding both Police and Justice.

"It's certainly true that there are conflicting accountabilities between Police and Justice. The police are supposed to be restrained by the rule of law. The Minister of Police is supposed to represent the police," Seymour said.

"The Minister of Justice is supposed to represent the rule of law and the government apparatus that upholds that thing, the courts and the laws that they're responsible for."

He said he wouldn't let one person hold both these portfolios since there's tension between the two of them.

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

Hipkins told reporters on Monday morning that he was alerted by his Chief of Staff at about 10pm on Sunday that Allan had been taken into police custody. The Police Commissioner also rang the Police Minister, who then attempted to contact Hipkins.

"While her actions are inexcusable, I was given information that she was experiencing extreme emotional distress at the time of the incident," Hipkins said.

"My initial concerns last night were for her immediate safety and well-being. It appears that some of her personal struggles came to a head yesterday and were contributing factors in this incident."

He said he spoke with Allan early on Monday morning and advised her that he didn't believe she was fit to hold a ministerial warrant. She "expressed remorse" and had already sent a message saying she intended to resign.

Allan is now heading back home to consider her political future, Hipkins said.

At a press conference earlier on Monday, Hipkins said that he received "conflicting messages" on Sunday night about what had happened.

He said the facts weren't initially clear.

"They have become clearer this morning. What had happened was contested and now we have got clarity around that."

Asked what was contested on Sunday night, Hipkins said: "The facts were simply not clear as to exactly what had happened."

"It wasn't clear whether she had been the one who was driving, exactly what had happened, and I didn't get clarity on that until this morning."

He was asked if Allan had said she wasn't driving initially.

"The problem was that I couldn't speak to her directly last night, but there was some suggestion that she might have said that she wasn't driving. Of course, I couldn't verify any of that because I couldn't speak to her. Until I actually knew what had happened, and had it verified by the police and ultimately verified by her, I wasn't in a position to form any judgement on that."

Now that she has been charged, Hipkins said Allan has not contested that she was driving.

It was his understanding that she was alone, but "I am not in a position to verify any of the facts".

Hipkins said what wasn't being contested by anyone was that "she was in a very distressed state".