Today the Labour, Green and New Zealand First parties signed their coalition agreement documents, formalizing the Government for the next three years. Along with the signing ceremony, conducted in front of media, the portfolio allocation was also announced.
Not surprisingly, the key portfolio’s such as Health, Education, Social Welfare and Justice – the exception was Foreign Affairs – have been retained by Labour. Details of the Labour ministerial portfolio allocation will be made public on Wednesday. It is however known that Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern is going to retain the S.I.S. role as well as the childrens portfolio. The only certainty is that Grant Robertson will become the new Treasurer and that David Parker will probably pick up the Attorney General role.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has been awarded the Foreign Affairs portfolio. This might have been in part an acknowledgement of the work he did in holding it during the last term of the Helen Clark led Labour Government in 2005-2008. His Deputy Leader, Ron Mark picked up the Defence portfolio, whilst Tracey Martin got the Associate Education Minister portfolio.
The Greens have also been allocated ministerial portfolios outside of the Cabinet. They will get Conservation, Climate Change and one other (still to be announced).
As well as portfolio announcements, some announcements regarding priorities were also made today. The key ones are:
- Foreign buyers will not be allowed to buy New Zealand housing
- Minimum wage is going to increase to $20 by 2020
- A cannabis law referendum will be had before 2020
- A substantial tree planting programme will get underway
- The programme will be managed by a New Zealand Forest Service
- Winding down government subsidized irrigation
- The water tax has been scrapped
- Steeper penalties for those who conduct tax evasion
I expect that in the coming days further announcements about the direction that this new Government is expected to take, will come out.
The new Cabinet is sworn in on Thursday.