Politics Live: Jacinda Ardern pushes workers’ rights

Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern has outlined her Government’s plans to improve workplace conditions and the economy, saying higher wages do not need to come at the expense of jobs.

Ardern delivered her first public speech as incoming Prime Minister to the Council of Trade Unions’ biennial conference in Wellington.

Receiving a predictably rapturous response from the Labour-friendly audience, Ardern said they could take her attendance as a commitment to the work her Government and the CTU would do together.

She said the incoming government had already ticked off one of its commitments for the first 100 days, with the appointment of Andrew Little as the Minister responsible for Pike River Re-Entry.

The Government would also move ahead with other “quick initiatives for working people”, such as increasing the minimum wage to $16.50, restoring the right to meal and rest breaks, and “reversing attacks on work rights” by restoring a number of workers’ rights.

“It is the start of our programme to make this a better country for everyone - a country that gives everyone a shot at achieving their dreams and doesn’t let anyone fall through the cracks.”

Ardern praised the incoming Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, saying he had a history of finding common ground.

She said it was in everyone’s interests for families to have higher incomes and workers to have improved conditions.

“They [businesses] know that we need decent wages if they are going to have customers for their products. They know that we need to boost our productivity, and low wages are a barrier to that because they discourage investment in training and capital. They know that we need a government that invests in skills and education.”

Ardern said she did not “buy into baseless claims that paying people well means there will be fewer jobs”, when the opposite was true.

The Government’s plans for Fair Pay Agreements would end the “race to the bottom” on wages, she said.

Ministers unveiled

Earlier in the day, Ardern revealed her new line-up of ministers, saying she had played to the strengths of the three parties that will make up the incoming government.

The list of ministers who will be formally appointed on Thursday contained few real surprises, with most taking charge of areas where they already held a shadow portfolio or level of expertise.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, Minister for State Owned Enterprises and Racing Minister, with Ardern saying she looked forward to the “experience and expertise” he would bring.

Ardern herself took on the role of Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister - also held by the last Labour PM, Helen Clark - along with National Security and Intelligence.

While she could not take the operational role of Children’s Minister, Ardern said she had created the role of Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, with a unit to be set up within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to undertake work across all of government.

Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis was confirmed as Corrections Minister, and will also take on a new role of Minister for Crown/Maori relations, which Ardern said was about preparing for the transition into a post-Treaty of Waitangi negotiation period.

David Parker will have to do some heavy lifting as Minister of Trade and Export Growth, Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Economic Development.

Former Labour leader Andrew Little has been made Justice Minister, and will also be in charge of preparing to re-enter the Pike River mine - a pledge made by Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens.

On the New Zealand First side, Ron Mark has been confirmed as Defence Minister, while Tracey Martin will be Children’s Minister and Shane Jones will take on the Regional Economic Development Minister role.

For the Greens, James Shaw will be Climate Change Minister, Julie Anne Genter Minister for Women, and Eugenie Sage Conservation Minister.

With a new government will come new ministries: Ardern confirmed the Ministry for Primary Industries would be split up into separate departments covering fisheries, forestry and agriculture, while there would also be changes to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Here is the full list of ministerial roles:

Cabinet ministers

Jacinda Ardern:
Prime Minister
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Minister for National Security and Intelligence
Minister for Child Poverty Reduction

Winston Peters:
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister for State Owned Enterprises Minister for Racing

Kelvin Davis:
Minister for Crown/Maori Relations
Minister of Corrections
Minister of Tourism
Associate Minister of Education (Maori Education)

Grant Robertson:
Minister of Finance
Minister for Sport and Recreation
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage

Phil Twyford:
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Minister of Transport

Megan Woods:
Minister of Energy and Resources
Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration
Minister of Research, Science and Innovation
Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission

Chris Hipkins:
Minister of Education
Minister of State Services
Leader of the House
Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services

Andrew Little:
Minister of Justice
Minister for Courts
Minister Responsible for the GCSB
Minister Responsible for the NZSIS Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry

Carmel Sepuloni:
Minister for Social Development
Minister for Disability Issues
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Associate Minister for Pacific Peoples

David Clark:
Minister of Health
Associate Minister of Finance

David Parker:
Minister for Economic Development
Minister for the Environment
Minister for Trade and Export Growth
Associate Minister of Finance

Nanaia Mahuta:
Minister for Maori Development
Minister of Local Government
Associate Minister for the Environment

Stuart Nash:
Minister of Police
Minister of Fisheries
Minister of Revenue
Minister for Small Business

Iain Lees-Galloway:
Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety
Minister of Immigration
Minister for ACC
Deputy Leader of the House

Jenny Salesa:
Minister for Building and Construction
Minister for Ethnic Communities
Associate Minister of Education
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development

Damien O’Connor:
Minister of Agriculture
Minister for Biosecurity
Minister for Food Safety
Minister for Rural Communities
Associate Minister of Trade and Export Growth

Clare Curran:
Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
Minister for Government Digital Services
Associate Minister for ACC
Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government)

Ron Mark:
Minister of Defence
Minister for Veterans

Tracey Martin:
Minister for Children
Minister of Internal Affairs
Minister for Seniors
Associate Minister of Education

Shane Jones:
Minister of Forestry
Minister for Infrastructure
Minister for Regional Economic Development
Associate Minister of Finance
Associate Minister of Transport

Ministers outside of Cabinet

Kris Faafoi:
Minister of Civil Defence
Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Associate Minister of Immigration

Peeni Henare:
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
Minister for Whānau Ora
Minister for Youth
Associate Minister for Social Development

Willie Jackson:
Minister of Employment
Associate Minister for Maori Development

Aupito William Sio:
Minister for Pacific Peoples
Associate Minister for Courts
Associate Minister of Justice

Meka Whaitiri:
Minister of Customs
Associate Minister of Agriculture
Associate Minister for Crown/Maori Relations
Associate Minister of Local Government

James Shaw:
Minister for Climate Change
Minister of Statistics
Associate Minister of Finance

Julie Anne Genter:
Minister for Women
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister of Transport

Eugenie Sage:
Minister of Conservation
Minister for Land Information
Associate Minister for the Environment


Michael Wood:
Undersecretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities

Fletcher Tabuteau:
Undersecretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Undersecretary to the Minister of Regional Economic Development

Jan Logie:
Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues)

'Playing to strengths'

Speaking to RNZ’s Morning Report earlier in the day, Ardern said she had divided up the roles based on the capabilities and focus of particular ministers.

"What I focused on when I did the allocation was playing to the strengths of the ministers that we have. So with the Greens of course you'll see a strong environmental focus, with New Zealand First you'll see a strong focus on regional development,” Ardern told RNZ.

Asked about the Government’s commitment to increase the minimum wage to $20 by April 2021, Ardern said she would ask the tax working group to look at how it could “ease the burden” for small businesses.

“This is me foreshadowing that I do have a genuine interest in how we can support those who create jobs in New Zealand.”

The $1 billion a year Regional Development Fund secured by New Zealand First would be funded from $10b of unallocated capital expenditure in Labour’s fiscal plan, Ardern said.

She said the Government was taking official advice on its plans for a ban on foreign purchases of existing homes to decide the best way to implement it.

“Right now I’m looking at all the options and how to make that policy a reality.”

Before announcing the ministerial portfolios, Ardern will meet Irish president Michael D. Higgins at Parliament.

It will be her first face-to-face meeting with a world leader as the incoming prime minister - although Ardern has already spoken to US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others.

Later in the afternoon, Ardern will deliver a speech to the NZ Council of Trade Unions’ biennial conference, where she’s likely to receive a warm reception.

Article updated at 12.28pm.

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