NZ Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins reveals new shadow cabinet

Labour's Chris Hipkins
Labour's Chris Hipkins . . . "We have work to do to make sure Kiwis know and feel that Labour backs them." Image: RNZ/Samuel Rillstone

RNZ News

New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party has announced its shadow cabinet to face off against the conservative coalition government.

The party endorsed Chris Hipkins as leader and voted Carmel Sepuloni as deputy earlier this month. Sepuloni is also Pacific Peoples minister.

Many of the roles are a continuation of the portfolios MPs served while ministers in government, though some roles have had to be changed due to the departure of two senior figures.

David Parker has picked up Foreign Affairs, after former minister Nanaia Mahuta was not returned to Parliament. His former environment role has gone to Rachel Brooking, who served as Associate Environment Minister for the final few months of the Labour government.

The departure of Andrew Little means Phil Twyford has been given the immigration portfolio, while Dr Ayesha Verrall will be the Public Service spokesperson.

Ginny Andersen will keep the police portfolio, but her justice role has been given to Duncan Webb.

“Duncan is forensic in the sort of work that he does, and I think that he’s just the right person to scrutinise the actions that David Seymour’s taking in that portfolio.”

Experience and energy
Leader Chris Hipkins said the line-up brought experience and energy to the job of opposition.

“The election didn’t go Labour’s way and we have work to do to make sure Kiwis know and feel that Labour backs them. I have absolute confidence our team will work with communities right across the country to build this support back,” he said.

“With the start this coalition has had, it’s clear New Zealanders will need an opposition that stands up for their values and what is right.”

Labour leader Hipkins reveals shadow cabinet  Video: RNZ

Hipkins had already confirmed every MP, including the two newcomers Cushla Tangaere-Manuel and Reuben Davidson, would have a portfolio.

Tangaere-Manuel, the MP for cyclone-hit Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, picks up tourism and hospitality, forestry, and cyclone recovery.

Hipkins had already confirmed Grant Robertson would be finance spokesperson, while Dr Ayesha Verrall would remain in the health portfolio.

Robertson’s decision to run as a list-only candidate at the election had prompted speculation he would retire from Parliament if Labour lost the election, but on Wednesday, at a press conference accusing the government of a fiscal hole, he confirmed he would stick around.

“I’m here, and this first few days has indicated to me exactly why I’d like to be here,” he said.

‘Coalition of chaos’
Hipkins said the new Labour line-up was “going to hold the coalition of chaos to account over the next three years”.

“The front bench includes a mix of very experienced and newer former ministers, who are going to bring the skills and energy we need to those jobs and to their portfolios. We’ve got roughly three times more ministerial experience in our top 20 than National, NZ First and ACT combined.”

“There are six women and four men in our top 10 — it’s a diverse line-up.”

“What we’ve seen from the other side already is a lack of moral compass, a depressing laundry list that undoes progress and takes New Zealand and Kiwis backwards.

“This Labour team has the values, the energy and the experience to hold the other side to account . . .  and that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing.

“We’re under no illusion though we’ve got a big job ahead to win back the support of our communities. But one thing is for absolute certain — when Christopher Luxon takes away the services people need and rely on, we will be there asking why.”

Hipkins said “every one of our 34 MPs has a contribution to make. I’ve been in opposition before . . .  I’ve seen MPs from some of the lowest rankings make some of the biggest contribution to the opposition effort.”

Asked if any MPs planned on quitting, he said nobody had confirmed.

“Obviously in a period of time like this after an election loss, there will be people who will want to contemplate that, but nobody has given a firm timeline for making decisions on that.”

PM Luxon ‘has no control’
On Christopher Luxon’s handling of Winston Peters, Hipkins said Luxon had no control.

“Christopher Luxon set very high standards for ministers in the last government. He doesn’t seem to have anywhere near those standards for ministers in his own government.

“I think what really he announced yesterday was he has no control over Winston Peters because Winston Peters has no respect for him, and there’s nothing he can really do about Winston Peters’ behaviour. I don’t think that’s good enough from a prime minister.”

Hipkins calls Peters’ comments “very serious allegations” and “don’t comply with the requirements of a minister”.

“His implicit directions to TVNZ and RNZ . . . fall well foul of the requirements of a minister not to give directions to those organisations that are editorially independent, and Christopher Luxon has done nothing about it.”

The full line-up:

  • Chris Hipkins – Leader of the Opposition, Ministerial Services, National Security and Intelligence
  • Carmel Sepuloni – Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Social Development, Pacific Peoples, Auckland Issues, Child Poverty Reduction
  • Grant Robertson – Finance, Racing
  • Megan Woods – Climate Change, Energy, Resources, Associate Finance
  • Willie Jackson – Māori Development, Broadcasting and Media, Employment, Associate Housing, Associate Workplace Relations and Safety
  • Dr Ayesha Verrall – Health, Public Service, Wellington Issues
  • Kieran McAnulty – Shadow Leader of the House, Housing, Local Government, Regional Development
  • Willow-Jean Prime – Children, Youth, Associate Education (Māori)
  • Ginny Andersen – Police, Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Social Investment, Associate Social Development
  • Jan Tinetti – Education, Women
  • Barbara Edmonds – Economic Development, Infrastructure, Associate Finance
  • Peeni Henare – Defence, Sport and Recreation, Associate Health
  • Priyanca Radhakrishnan – Conservation, Disability Issues, NZSIS, GCSB
  • Jo Luxton – Agriculture, Biosecurity, Rural Communities
  • Duncan Webb – Deputy Shadow Leader of the House, Justice, Regulation, Earthquake Commission, Christchurch Issues
  • Deborah Russell – Revenue, Science, Innovation and Technology, Associate Education (Tertiary)
  • Rachel Brooking – Environment, Food Safety, Space
  • Damien O’Connor – Trade, Associate Foreign Affairs, Associate Transport
  • David Parker – Foreign Affairs, Shadow Attorney General, Electoral Reform
  • Kelvin Davis – Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
  • Tangi Utikere – Chief Whip, Transport, Oceans and Fisheries, Associate Education (Pacific)
  • Camilla Belich – Junior Whip, Workplace Relations and Safety, Emergency Management
  • Arena Williams – Assistant Whip, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Building and Construction, State Owned Enterprises
  • Phil Twyford – Immigration, Disarmement and Arms Control, Associate Foreign Affairs
  • Greg O’Connor – Assistant Speaker, Courts, Veterans
  • Jenny Salesa – Ethnic Communities, Customs
  • Rachel Boyack – ACC, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Animal Welfare
  • Adrian Rurawhe – Whānau Ora, Associate Māori Development
  • Rino Tirikatene – Corrections, Land Information
  • Helen White – Community and Voluntary Sector, Small Business and Manufacturing, Associate Justice
  • Ingrid Leary – Seniors, Mental Health
  • Lemauga Lydia Sosene – Internal Affairs, Associate Pacific Peoples, Associate Social Development and Employment
  • Reuben Davidson – Statistics, Digital Economy and Communications, Associate Broadcasting and Media
  • Cushla Tangaere-Manuel – Tourism and Hospitality, Forestry, Cyclone Recovery

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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