Days after securing a resounding reelection victory, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday (Nov 2) appointed the country’s most diverse cabinet with a preponderance of indigenous Maoris, women and members from LGBT community.
Ardern appointed former finance minister Grant Robertson as her new deputy. He is the first openly gay person to hold the position. He was also allowed to retain the finance portfolio. He replaces Winston Peters, the leader of New Zealand First Party, as Deputy PM. Peters’s party drew a blank in the election.
Two of the newly appointed ministers in Ardern’s cabinet, Ayesha Verrall and Kiri Allan, are lesbians with young children.
The newly elected New Zealand parliament has 13 openly queer MPs or 10.8% of the 120-member house. It is more than United Kingdom, which has 45 out members or 7% of the 650-member House of Commons.
Nanaia Mahuta, a member of the indigenous Maori community who sports a “moko kauae” (a traditional Maori tattoo on her chin) was elevated as country’s new foreign minister. She was previously the minister of Maori Affairs.
India-born Priyanca Radhakrishnan was also appointed as a Minister in the New Zealand Cabinet. Priyanca will be Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities; Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector; and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.
Taking pride in her Cabinet’s diversity, Ardern added appointments were made on merit.
“It is both a Cabinet with huge merit and talent and which is incredibly diverse,” the 40-year-old said.
“I think it’s an important point to make - these are individuals who have been promoted for what they bring to the Cabinet, they also reflect the New Zealand that elected them. I think as a country we should be proud of this,” she said.
The government will be sworn in on Friday.
Ardern won a landslide verdict in the October 17 election campaigning on the plank of New Zealand’s success containing the coronavirus .
Ardern’s new government faces serious economic challenges. The New Zealand economy is expected to contract by 5.7 percent year-on-year in 2020, according to the most recent IHS Markit global economic forecast, with only a gradual GDP growth recovery to 2.4 percent next year.
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