Three MPs getting major promotions in Chris Hipkins' Cabinet
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ first reshuffle has brought two MPs straight into Cabinet while farewelling a few who are set to retire – as well as Phil Twyford.
Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen and Mana MP Barbara Edmonds have both been catapulted into Cabinet positions.
Andersen had served as the chairperson of Parliament’s Justice Select Committee, while Edmonds was Labour’s junior whip. After Hipkins’ reshuffle on Tuesday, they were promoted into Labour’s top 20.
Andersen was given the portfolios of digital economy, seniors and small business. She would also be the associate minister of immigration and Treaty negotiations, ranked 19th in Cabinet.
Edmonds picked up the ministries of Internal Affairs and Pacific Peoples. She would also be an associate minister of health, with responsibilities for Pasifika health, and housing.
The resignation of Aupito William Sio, who was a minister outside of Cabinet, meant the Government was in need of a minister for Pacific Peoples. Likewise, David Clark’s resignation vacated the position of minister for the digital economy.
Edmonds was the most senior Pasifika MP in Labour, apart from Sio, although she entered Parliament in 2020.
She was a tax lawyer, but upon entering Parliament she often spoke about inequality. During her few years as an MP, she has been chairing the finance and expenditure committee.
Andersen entered Parliament back in 2017 as a list MP, before winning Hutt South at the last election. She worked in the public service before entering politics and advised a number of former Labour ministers, including Trevor Mallard and David Cunliffe.
In the public service she worked with police, and in Parliament she quickly got to work trying to change criminal law. In 2021, she introduced the child exploitation bill to crack down on online predators.
Apart from Edmonds and Andersen, the two MPs whose first jobs as ministers take them straight to Cabinet, there have been some other big jumps for certain MPs.
Dr Ayesha Verrall, who jumped straight into Cabinet as first-term MP when she became the minister for Covid-19, has had another major bump.
She moved up 10 places in the Cabinet rankings on Tuesday, while picking up the expanded role of health minister. The Covid-19 portfolio would be subsumed back into health in general, Hipkins said.
Verrall is an infectious diseases doctor and worked as an epidemiologist in Wellington before entering Parliament to continue working to prevent infectious disease. Her new role would see her work across all diseases as minister of health.
She did her PhD in tuberculosis and has worked in Asia as a doctor.
The Cabinet reshuffle saw some big wins for Wellington-based MPs. Andersen, Edmonds and Verrall all live within a train or bus ride from the Beehive.
But Hipkins creation of a new role, Minister for Auckland, distracted from Wellington’s wins. The new minister for Auckland, Michael Wood, jumped up eight spots in Cabinet with his new portfolios.
East Coast MP Kiri Allan also rose six places. Both Allan and Wood’s names were briefly in the ring as potential options for leadership, following Jacinda Ardern’s resignation.
Outside of Cabinet, former chief whip Duncan Webb and Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime were both given ministerial portfolios.
Prime would become the minister of conservation and minister for youth. The conservation portfolios was up for grabs thanks to the resignation of Poto Williams.
Webb would become minister of commerce and minister for state owned enterprises, two roles previously held by Clark.
Hipkins also demoted Phil Twyford, who had been a minister outside of Cabinet.