Hipkins’ need to strengthen focus on “bread and butter” issues suggests the Ardern team was looking the wrong way

Buzz from the Beehive

Before he announced his Cabinet yesterday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced he would be flying to Australia next week to meet that country’s Prime Minister.

And before Kieran McAnulty had time to say “Three Waters” after his promotion to the Local Government portfolio, he was dishing out more government money to flood-ravaged Auckland as  Minister of Emergency Management.

Hipkins’ travel plans were announced  in a statement headed –

Prime Minister to meet with PM Albanese

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will travel to Canberra next week for an in person meeting with Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

Economic issues are on the agenda along with security issues within the bilateral relationship and engagement in the Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific regions.

Hipkins noted too that the meeting will mark the start of a significant year in the trans-Tasman relationship when several milestones will be celebrated, including 40 years of Closer Economic Relations Agreement, 50 years of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, and 80 years since the establishment of the two High Commissions.

“The trans-Tasman relationship is New Zealand’s closest and most important, and it was crucial to me that my first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Australia,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Prime Minister Albanese was the first international leader I spoke with after becoming Prime Minister, and I look forward to continuing our discussion in person on how we can further work together to secure our economies against the global economic challenges we all face.

“The stronger our relationship, and the closer our people-to-people links, the more prosperous and resilient New Zealand and Australia will become.”

The Prime Minister will fly to Australia “for a day trip” on Tuesday 7 February via the NZDF (a department now under the ministerial command of Andrew Little).

McAnulty’s statement was headed

Government boosts fund for Auckland flooding

 The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today.

Cabinet agreed that, given the severity of the event, a further $1 million contribution be made.

This is the most significant contribution to a Mayoral Relief Fund ever and ensures that funding is being provided to the affected communities as quickly as possible, McAnulty said.

Financial contributions to councils’ MRFs are typically made in the immediate aftermath of an emergency with the expectation that the local authority distributes funding to the community as it sees fit.

The previous highest was $300,000, given to Nelson last year.

The fund – to be administered by Auckland Council – could help with providing essential needs such as food and clothing as well as cleaning up damaged properties in areas where support is not otherwise available.

The funding is in addition to other government financial support provided to the region, such as the Ministry of Social Development civil defence payments.

But the big statement of the day – from Hipkins – was headed

New Cabinet focused on bread and butter issues

The new Cabinet will be focused on core bread and butter issues like the cost of living, education, health, housing and keeping communities and businesses safe, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced.

Hipkins said:

“We need a greater focus on what’s in front of New Zealanders right now. The new Cabinet line up strengthens that focus.”

This plainly implies the old Cabinet was inadequately focused.

The public certainly was dissatisfied with the focus, if opinion polls accurately reflect voters’ attitudes. The mere suggestion of change – and the prospect of unpopular policies being scrapped or made more palatable – shows up in positive poll results for Labour  this week.

Hipkins went on:

“In the reshuffle I have balanced the need for stability with renewal. New Zealanders want to see the Government getting on with the job but I also want to demonstrate the depth of our talent and bring some new energy and focus to the task ahead.”

Bryce Edwards has done a fine job of explaining who has landed which jobs in the new Cabinet lineup.

He also has compiled this list of media reports on the Cabinet reshuffle and policy reset-

Luke Malpass (Stuff): Chris Hipkins’ first Cabinet reshuffle a game of two halves
Claire Trevett (Herald): PM Chris Hipkins reshuffle – the Auckland nod, which ministers get most clout and which will be tested? (paywalled)
Luke Malpass (Stuff): PM Chris Hipkins set to reverse petrol tax hike, retain half-price public transport fares
Thomas Manch (Stuff): The winners and losers in Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ Cabinet reshuffle
Toby Manhire (Spinoff): The winners and losers in Chris Hipkins’ ‘bread and butter’ reshuffle
Jenna Lynch (Newshub): Cabinet reshuffle: The winners and losers as Chris Hipkins gives team a face-lift
Richard Shaw (The Conversation): Hipkins revives Labour’s fortunes – but the election will be about more than ‘bread and butter issues’
Jo Moir (Newsroom): Hipkins picks his team, turns his focus to policy purge
Richard Prebble (Herald): Chris Hipkins must capitalise on honeymoon bounce (paywalled)
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Chris Hipkins’ Cabinet reshuffle: Who are the winners and losers? (paywalled)
Pattrick Smellie (BusinessDesk): Cabinet reshuffle: winning line-up or deck chair rearrangement? (paywalled)
Pattrick Smellie (BusinessDesk): Hipkins puts three waters reforms on his hit list (paywalled)
Todd Niall (Stuff): Will it be ‘yes minister’ or ‘no minister’ as Wayne Brown gains a cabinet counterpart?
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Michael Wood v Simeon Brown in Auckland derby
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): The minister for Auckland: Michael Wood’s surprise new role
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): Three MPs getting major promotions in Chris Hipkins’ Cabinet
Wena Harawira (Whakaata Māori): Cabinet reshuffle signals new era for Māori MPs
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Chippies new front bench – winners and losers
Chris Keall (Herald): Cabinet reshuffle: More tech blues after Prime Minister Chris Hipkins unveils line-up (paywalled)
Anneke Smith (RNZ): Shake-up delivers fresh faces for government’s most contentious portfolios
Felix Desmarais (1News): Cabinet reshuffle: Who’s in and who’s out?
RNZ: Prime Minister Chris Hipkins reveals Cabinet reshuffle

2 thoughts on “Hipkins’ need to strengthen focus on “bread and butter” issues suggests the Ardern team was looking the wrong way

  1. It may only be a week since JA stole a march on the opposition and left mainstream commentators and their “paid content” followers (see above) floundering in her wake. And it is a matter of days since Huey rained down on Mayor Brown and put Hipkins ahead of JA in the polls with a slate washed clean. By April first the opposition will have to appoint a new leader but will it be a woman now the time for that has past.


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