Robertson confirmed as Deputy PM

Jacinda Ardern is revealing her new Cabinet and has confirmed Grant Robertson as Deputy Prime Minister and Andrew Little is taking over as Minister of Health.

Robertson will also keep the Finance portfolio and to be given Infrastructure so he can oversee the roll out of the $12 billion NZ upgrade programme and the $3 billion shovel-ready fund.

Ardern said there will be two overarching priorities for the new Cabinet, including keeping Kiwis safe from Covid-19 and to drive the economic recovery.

A coordinated health team and a senior economic team are features of the new Cabinet, she said.

"The challenge of Covid-19 will be with us for many, many months to come."

She said the global pandemic meant the "world is in a situation we have never seen before", with Europe being hit hard with Covid infections.

This follows Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis revealing this morning that he didn't want the deputy prime ministership.

Robertson is also expected to keep the Finance portfolio and to be given Infrastructure so he can oversee the roll out of the $12 billion NZ upgrade programme and the $3 billion shovel-ready fund.

Other positions of interest include Health Minister, Winston Peters' successor in Foreign Affairs, and how far Phil Twyford might fall.

This morning Ardern also hinted at a number of ministerial roles for Labour's Māori caucus, given the absence of a Māori Deputy PM.

She said her executive would make use of all the talent in the Labour caucus "including from our Māori MPs".

Ardern has previously said she expected the deputy leader to be the Deputy PM, but this morning she said there was no reason why different people couldn't hold each role.

Davis said he got into politics to be the MP for Te Tai Tokerau and to improve outcomes for Māori.

He added he wanted to continue as deputy leader and mentor the large Labour caucus.

He appeared to say that he has been given hefty ministerial portfolios, but didn't say what they were.

"I just want to really be able to focus on my new roles and I'm very excited and looking forward to them."

Yesterday Ardern said Covid-19 was top of her mind when deciding Cabinet positions.

"It is a tricky virus and it is only swelling once more. That's all the more reason for us to continue a very concerted effort here," Ardern said.

Health next term will include not only the Covid-response, but implementing reforms set out in the Heather Simpson review.

Ardern will also reveal the fate of David Clark, who resigned the health portfolio following his lockdown indiscretions, and Meka Whaitiri, who was stripped of ministerial roles after an alleged assault that she has denied.

Twyford, who presided over the failure of KiwiBuild and the lack of progress on Auckland light rail, is expected to be demoted but may keep his seat at the Cabinet table.

There are six empty seats at the Cabinet table: those vacated by the four NZ First ministers, and the unfilled vacancies of former Labour Party ministers Iain Lees-Galloway and Clare Curran.

Cabinet usually has 20 ministers, and Ardern said the size of the executive would be largely unchanged.

There are currently 25 ministers in the executive council, which includes ministers outside Cabinet, and 27 members of executive government, which includes two under-secretaries.

Two ministers outside Cabinet will be Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson, who yesterday joined Ardern and Davis in formally signing the Labour-Greens co-operation agreement.

The Labour caucus elected the Cabinet ministers this morning. Anyone can be nominated and votes can be held if required.

"I do spend the better part of a week in talks with all of our members ... and then I spend a bit of time socialising some of the decisions," Ardern said.

"I make suggestions. The team is free to nominate others."

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