David Parker emerges as pivotal minister in new cabinet

NZ First leader Winston Peters becomes deputy prime minister while former Labour leader Andrew Little gets Justice – and Pike River.

Senior Labour Party MP David Parker has emerged as a linchpin in the new coalition cabinet, taking the pivotal economic development, environment and trade portfolios that will connect him to key ministers in both the New Zealand First and Green parties.

Despite being formally ranked No 11 in the Cabinet announced today by Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern, Mr Parker has emerged as a key confidant of the new Labour leader since she took over from Andrew Little in August, and has a long and cordial relationship with the deputy prime minister and foreign minister to be, Winston Peters.

By taking the environment portfolio, Mr Parker will also end up working closely with the new climate change minister, Greens co-leader James Shaw, and his fellow Green minister outside of cabinet, Eugenie Sage, who will become minister of conservation and land information, the latter covering the Overseas Investment Office with responsibility for vetting foreign land and other investments. Mr Parker, whose proposal for a levy on commercial water use did not survive the coalition negotiation process, is also Attorney-General and an associate minister of finance.

Ms Ardern confirmed that both Mr Parker and Mr Peters will travel with her to the Apec leaders' summit in Vietnam early next month, her first on the international stage and where New Zealand's desire to renegotiate elements of the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership agreement represents an early diplomatic challenge.

Mr Parker will also end up working closely with NZ First newcomer and former Labour minister Shane Jones, who picks up ministries for forestry, regional economic development, and infrastructure.

The coalition agreement announced yesterday included a commitment to spend up to $1 billion a year on regional development initiatives and a plan to plant one billion trees to underpin a new focus on the forestry sector, regional employment, and the creation of carbon 'sinks'.

Few surprises were seen in the ministerial portfolios announced this morning, many of which had already been leaked to some media.

Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern says the portfolios reflect the new government's priorities.

She has added the portfolios for arts, culture and heritage, and child poverty reduction to her roles as prime minister and minister for national security and Intelligence.

As indicated, NZ First leader Winston Peters takes up the deputy role, along with foreign affairs, state-owned enterprises and racing.

Mr Peters later addressed media, promising to answer any questions that were “fair and reasonable.”

On what he can bring foreign affairs – Mr Peters says “a thing called experience.” “I expanded our relationship with East Asia,” he says when asked about some of his successes during his last tenure.

Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis will be minister of tourism, Corrections, the minister for Crown/Maori relations and also associate minister of Education (Maori education).

"This shows we’re moving into a post-treaty time in New Zealand,” Ms Ardern says.

Former Labour leader Andrew Little becomes minister of justice, courts, minister responsible for the GCSB, SIS, Treaty of Waitangi negotiations and for the Pike River re-entry.

The crucial role of finance minister goes to Grant Robertson, as expected, and he also picks up sports and recreation and associate minister for arts, culture and heritage.

Asked why fisheries had been separated from the Ministry of Primary Industries, Ms Ardern says it was the Coalition's view there are a "range of issues and dysfunctions within the fishing industry."

In fact, there is now no minister of MPI and the various different parts of that former portfolio – such as fishing, forestry and agricultural – all have their own portfolios.

Ron Mark will become minister of defence and veterans, while Tracey Martin will be minister for children, internal affairs, seniors and associate minister of education. Ms Martin is “a strong advocate for children and will make a good minister," Ms Ardern says.

Asked what sort of data and statistics she will be using to define the reduction in child poverty, Ms Ardern pointed to her The Child Poverty Reduction and Eradication Bill, which is already in the ballot.

The range of measures outlined in that bill include fixed and movable line measures against 50% and 60% of the median income, as well as other measures of material deprivation, she says.

“We have always argued it is necessary [to have a set of measures] and international evidence suggests is necessary.”

The upshot of having the measure, she says, is that ultimately “we will be telling New Zealanders ‘here is where New Zealand sits … now you will have the ability to hold us to account on what we have achieved.”

Housing is also a huge focus for the new government, she says.

She says Phil Twyford was the obvious choice as housing minister and he also picked up transport.

Asked if Mr Twyford will be able to handle the large housing portfolio – as National had split it up into a number of different portfolios – she said "yes."

Each of the three governing parties gains a parliamentary under-secretary. Rising Labour star Michael Wood becomes under-secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities, NZ First's Fletcher Tabuteau has foreign affairs and regional development responsibilities and the Greens' Jan Logie is an under-secretary to the Minister of Justice with responsibility for domestic and violence issues.

The full Labour/NZ First/Greens ministerial line-up

• Jacinda Ardern: Prime Minister, arts, culture and heritage, national security and intelligence, child poverty reduction

• Winston Peters: Deputy Prime Minister, foreign affairs, state-owned enterprises, racing

• Kelvin Davis: Crown/Maori relations, Corrections, tourism, associate education (Maori education)

• Grant Robertson: Finance, sport and recreation, associate arts and culture

• Phil Twyford: Housing and urban development, transport

• Megan Woods: Energy and resources, Earthquake Commission, Greater Christchurch Regeneration, research, science and innovation

• Chris Hipkins: Education, state services, ministerial services, Leader of the House

• Andrew Little: Justice, courts, GCSB/SIS, Pike River re-entry, Treaty of Waitangi negotiations

• Carmel Sepuloni: Social development, disability issues, associate arts and culture and heritage, associate Pacific peoples

• David Clark: Health, associate finance

• David Parker: Attorney-General, economic development,  environment, trade and export growth, associate finance

• Nanaia Mahuta: Maori development, local government, associate environment

• Stuart Nash: Police, fisheries, revenue, small business

• Iain Lees-Galloway: Workplace relations and safety, immigration, ACC, deputy leader of the House

• Ron Mark (NZF): Defence, veterans

• Tracey Martin (NZF): Internal affairs, children, seniors, associate education

• Shane Jones (NZF): Forestry, infrastructure, regional economic development, associate finance, associate transport

• Jenny Salesa: Building and construction, ethnic communities, associate education, associate health, associate housing and urban development

• Damien O'Connor: Agriculture, biosecurity, food safety, rural communities, associate trade and export growth

• Clare Curran: Broadcasting, communications and digital media, government digital services, associate minister ACC, associate minister state services (open government)

• James Shaw: Climate change, statistics, associate finance

• Julie Anne Genter: Women, associate health, associate transport

• Eugenie Sage: Conservation, land information, associate environment

Ministers outside the cabinet

• Kris Faafoi: Civil Defence, Commerce and consumer affairs, associate minister of immigration

• Peeni Henare: Community and voluntary sector, Whanau Ora, youth. associate minister for social development

• Willie Jackson: Employment  (including tertiary education, skills and employment)

• Aupito William Sio: Pacific peoples, associate minister for courts. associate minister of justice

• Meka Whaitiri: Customs, associate minister of agriculture, associate minister for Crown/Maori relations, associate minister of local government

(Additional reporting BusinessDesk)

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