Former physician Ayesha Verrall and former principal Jan Tinetti pick up big portfolios while Auckland gets an advocate in an otherwise well-anticipated cabinet reshuffle, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.
An apple for teachers and health workers
Toby Manhire has details and analysis on yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle. Most predictions in the lead-up were accurate. It was perhaps a line call on Andrew Little losing health but that has gone to Ayesha Verrall, a former physician. Little picked up defence from Peeni Henare while former principal Jan Tinetti picked up the full education portfolio. Those appointments don’t reduce the list of issues in the health and education sectors but they do give both sectors ministers with ground-floor experience. Three new faces moved into cabinet – Kieran McAnulty, Ginny Andersen and Barbara Edmonds.
Willie Jackson’s fate untethered from fate of the merger
Willie Jackson’s list elevation and retention of the broadcasting portfolio stymies a few theories about his fate being tied to the fate of the TVNZ/RNZ merger. That doesn’t mean the merger isn’t going south but it does untether Jackson from its trajectory. 1News included a question about the merger in its recent poll. While 41% of people were against it and 28% were for it, 31% of people answered “don’t know”. That could suggest a couple or a combination of things: it’s not quite the political boil it might have appeared to be and some people are indifferent, or people don’t really understand it and it hasn’t been explained well.
Strongest indication on fate of Three Waters
The strongest signal of policy intent came via Hipkins’ comments about Three Waters. As BusinessDesk’s Pattrick Smellie writes (paywalled), with two pieces of legislation passed, it “appeared to be in a bedrock position”. Yesterday Hipkins said the government would “look closely to make sure we have got those reforms right”. Nanaia Mahuta lost the local government portfolio, retained foreign affairs and slipped down the list rankings. As Manhire notes, there is a fair case to be made for Mahuta’s global/local portfolio split simply not making sense now borders are open but Hipkins’ previous comments about co-governance also give credence to the idea that some heat needed to be taken out of the water reforms.
The Minister for Auckland
Michael Wood was appointed as minister for Auckland. There is no Ministry for Auckland so it’s an advocacy and conduit role. Labour last had a minister for Auckland when Helen Clark was prime minister and Judith Tizard held the role. It has the potential to create an interesting dynamic with mayors as observed in then-mayor John Banks’ comments when Tizard’s portfolio was disestablished in 2007. So far Wood and Auckland mayor Wayne Brown have presented a collaborative front on Auckland issues, including transport but funding for light rail remains unresolved and the big job and cost of flood recovery looms. Stuff’s Todd Niall looks at how their priorities might line up. National recently appointed Simeon Brown as the party’s Auckland spokesperson, setting up a matched opposition in the House that has already started with a bit of a dig.