Ardern unveils ‘very minor’ changes to her front bench

Labour deputy Kevin Davis comes back onto the party list.

Labour’s new leader Jacinda Ardern has reshuffled some front bench portfolios, although she says the changes are “very minor.”

Her predecessor, Andrew Little, remains in the mix – as she signalled on Tuesday – and will pick up justice, ACC and small business as well as retaining the “new economy.”

Speaking to media after revealing the changes, she says Mr Little was “really pleased” with his new responsibilities.

Asked if by giving him some of the more high-profile portfolios, means he is more likely to stay in Parliament after the election, she indicated this was the case.  

“I imagine he will be looking forward to Labour being in government and the opportunity to be a minister.”

She was not able to confirm where Mr Little would be on the list, only saying it was for the party to decide, but insisted there would be “minimal disruption.”

Ms Ardern has gained security and intelligence and retains children and arts, culture and heritage.

“It’s fair to say children and children’s issues are one of the reasons I’m in Parliament,” she says.

Other changes include Grant Robertson picking up associate arts, culture and heritage.

Carmel Sepuloni has been given the associate children’s portfolio, Adrian Rurawhe now has Treaty of Waitangi negotiations and Nanaia Mahuta has been given associate Māori development.

All other portfolio responsibilities remain the same.

Meanwhile, Ms Ardern has revealed deputy leader Kelvin Davis will be put on the party’s list.

In March, Mr Davis – along with six other of Labour’s Maori MPs campaigning for the seven Maori seats – all came off the party list.

Under Labour Party rules, a waiver can be granted for MPs wanting to be exempted from the party list in special circumstances and all of Labour’s Maori seat MPs opted off the list.

But with Mr Davis’ elevation to deputy leader, questions had been raised about if he was constitutionally allowed to stay off the list.

Asked about his placing today, Ms Ardern revealed he was coming on to the list for “constitutional reasons.”

“He has had conversations about the implications of the [Labour Party] constitution and that means going on the list as deputy.”

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