20 Feb 2024

Labour reshuffle: Edmonds moves up as Finance spokesperson

1:43 pm on 20 February 2024

Labour has announced Barbara Edmonds will take over as Finance spokesperson, with new roles for Ginny Andersen, Peeni Henare and a handful of incoming MPs.

It comes after former Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced he would be resigning from politics next month.

Along with taking on the finance role, Edmonds moves up from number 11 to fourth, based on a poster the party unveiled on Tuesday morning. Megan Woods moves from fourth, behind Robertson, to third.

All other rankings remain the same, apart from the removal of MPs leaving Parliament and the those coming in to replace them - who were added to the end of the list.

Ginny Andersen adds Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations to her other portfolios (Police, Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Social Investment, Associate Social Development).

Damien O'Connor (Trade, Associate Foreign Affairs, Associate Transport) also adds Land Information to his portfolios, and Tangi Utikere (Chief Whip, Transport, Oceans and Fisheries and Associate Education) adds Racing.

Labour MP Barbara Edmonds

Barbara Edmonds (File photo) Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Shanan Halbert and Tracey McLellan, who re-entered Parliament after the resignations of Kelvin Davis and Rino Tirikatene, will also pick up new portfolios. Halbert takes over Auckland Issues and Rainbow Issues - a new role in the caucus. McLellan picks up Corrections, Associate Health.

Glen Bennett, who will re-enter Parliament after Robertson's resignation, will take over responsibility for Economic Development, and Associate Energy.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said Barbara Edmonds would be a fantastic Finance spokesperson and he looked forward to working closely with her.

"Barb has a background as a specialist tax lawyer and is a formidable Parliamentarian with experience across nine portfolios as minister, and several more as an advisor in a ministerial office," he said in a statement.

"She's held the ministerial portfolios of Associate Finance, Revenue, Economic Development, Internal Affairs, Pacific Peoples, Associate Health, Associate Housing, Associate Immigration and Associate Cyclone Recovery. Barb is not only incredibly clever with a broad knowledge-base, she also has the interpersonal skills to work with people from every background across all sectors."

Edmonds will be Labour's first female finance spokesperson, and takes over the role immediately - though Robertson remains at Parliament into March.

He said she was talented and had "an ability to look through the crap". She said his advice to her had been to "just do it your way", and she intended to.

She said what she was seeing from the government was disappointing as they would affect many people across the country, paying tribute to her opposite number in National, Nicola Willis.

"Nicola is a consummate politician, my job will be to hold her decisions and her words to account," Edmonds said.

She said Willis' promises did not seem to add up during the election campaign, and she would be keeping a close eye on promised tax changes.

Hipkins said the new Labour lineup would hold the government to account on its promises.

"It is clear the Government is scratching around for someone to blame as reality sets in that the promises they made during the campaign are not deliverable," he said.