Grant Robertson may reconsider becoming New Zealand PM after Jacinda Ardern resigns

A woman with a traditional facial tattoo and New Zealand’s first openly gay deputy prime minister are just a few of the names being thrown around to replace Jacinda Ardern for the country’s top job.

Ms Ardern announced on Thursday that she would step down on February 7 after five and a half years in office.

Speculation is running high as to who will take their place, with a handful of contenders now taking the spotlight.

Potential candidates include Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Grant Robertson and Education Secretary Chris Hipkins – while Secretary of State Nanaia Mahuta could also have a chance.

Ms Ardern denied that her declining popularity in the polls, which was largely due to the strict Covid restrictions, was the reason for her sudden departure.

In a poll released in December, Labor’s popularity fell one percent to 33 percent, while the country’s largest centre-right party, National, rose one point to 38 percent.

Although Mr Robertson has already said he has no intention of running the country, political analysts believe he still has time to reconsider.

Ms Ardern announced in an emotional news conference on Thursday that she would step down on February 7 after five and a half years in the top job

Ms Ardern announced in an emotional news conference on Thursday that she would step down on February 7 after five and a half years in the top job

Political analysts say Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Grant Robertson could take the top job, although he says he has no interest in leading the country

Political analysts say Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Grant Robertson could take the top job, although he says he has no interest in leading the country

The New Zealand Herald’s senior political correspondent Audrey Young said Ms Ardern and Mr Robertson were “in a league of their own within the Labor Cabinet”.

In an article for the publication, Ms Young said it was possible Mr Robertson felt “responsible” for remaining in his role as Treasury Secretary.

“He shouldn’t feel burdened by the vow he made in 2014 not to seek Labor leadership again after narrowly losing to Andrew Little. He is needed now,” she wrote.

“The best option would be for Robertson to change his mind, become Prime Minister and hand over the finances to (Education Secretary) Chris Hipkins or to Deputy Treasury Secretary Megan Woods.

“The next best option would be for Hipkins to become prime minister and apparently leave the finances with Robertson.”

Mr Robertson became the first openly gay man to hold the role of Deputy Prime Minister in November 2020. And if Mr Robertson thinks about it again, he would make history as New Zealand’s first openly gay Prime Minister.

Secretary of State Nanaia Mahuta was the first MP to wear a moko kauae, a cultural mark worn by Māori women

Secretary of State Nanaia Mahuta was the first MP to wear a moko kauae, a cultural mark worn by Māori women

“I still get a lot of emails and messages from young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who look forward to us providing that kind of role modeling,” he said at the time.

“So I’m going to do my job the way I did it, but I’m very proud to have the role.”

Following Ms Ardern’s retirement, Mr Robertson made it clear he would not throw his hat in the ring.

“When I failed to secure leadership of the party for the second time in 2014, I indicated that I would not stand again. My position has not changed,” he said in a statement.

“It’s a job you want to do badly to give it the justice it deserves.

“I firmly believe that there are colleagues in the caucus who are both able and willing to take on this role.”

Instead, he said he would commit to his role as finance minister.

Meanwhile, Mr Hipkins, the Education and Police Secretary, has come to prominence for spearheading the country’s response to the Covid pandemic.

Chris Mr Hipkins, the education and police secretary, has come to prominence for spearheading the country's response to the Covid pandemic.

Chris Mr Hipkins, the education and police secretary, has come to prominence for spearheading the country’s response to the Covid pandemic.

When asked about his intentions to take the lead, Mr Hipkins said he wasn’t ruling out anything, but added: “I think people just need a little bit of time”.

Ms. Mahuta was the first female MP to ever wear one moko kauaea cultural mark worn by Māori women, in Parliament and was also the first woman to hold the post of Foreign Secretary.

Mrs Mahuta has ties to Māori royalty, with her father being the adopted son of King Korokī.

She got the tattoo in 2016 and said it offers “positive ways to enable cultural expression and to be proud to be Māori.

Though a potential contender, it’s likely that her role in the controversial Three Waters Reform will hurt her chances of taking the lead.

The reform included municipal water, sewage and stormwater services from 67 municipalities, which were instead transferred to four major entities.

Another prime ministerial candidate, Kiri Allan, Minister of Justice (intermediate) of New Zealand, if elected would also become the country's first openly gay leader, as well as the first prime minister of Maori descent

Another prime ministerial candidate, Kiri Allan, Minister of Justice (intermediate) of New Zealand, if elected would also become the country’s first openly gay leader, as well as the first prime minister of Maori descent

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said many residents are “not happy about losing control of their assets and infrastructure.”

Another candidate for prime minister, Kiri Allan, New Zealand’s justice minister, if elected would also become the country’s first openly gay leader, as well as the first prime minister of Māori descent.

Ms Allan is a former barrister and has held numerous Labor ministerial posts since 2020.

Announcing her resignation on Thursday, Ms Ardern said a good leader knows when to step down.

“I know what this job requires. And I know I don’t have enough in the tank left to do it justice,” she said.

“I would be doing a disservice to continue.”

WHO COULD REPLACE JACINDA ARDERN AS PM?

Chris Hipkins – Secretary of Education, Remutaka MP

The favourite. The congenial 44-year-old, known as ‘Chippy’, is a close ally of Ms Ardern and Labour’s political fixer, who handed over the COVID-19 ministry in the depths of the pandemic and then passed into the police portfolio as law and became order increasingly important.

Andrew Little – Secretary of Health, Member of the List

Ms Ardern’s predecessor as chair, who stepped down in 2017 to make way for his popular deputy.

This selfless feat was lauded by his peers, but the 57-year-old former party leader may have snapped.

Has held key positions in government including Health, Safety, Justice and Workplace Relations.

Kiritapu Allan – Minister of Justice, East Coast MP

First elected in 2017, Ms Allan quickly made a name for herself as a formidable speaker and advocate and became a Labor favourite.

The 38-year-old, who was entrusted with ministerial duties after the 2020 election, revealed a diagnosis of stage three cervical cancer, entered remission and resumed full-time cabinet duties after taking sick leave.

An outsider, Ms Allan became New Zealand’s first Maori Prime Minister and first open LGBT leader.

Michael Wood – Secretary of Immigration, Mt Roskill MP

Mr Wood, another who rocketed up the charts during Ms Ardern’s leadership, is a favorite of the party’s left flank because of his uncompromising commitment to progressive causes and his enthusiasm for tackling opposition Nationals.

The 42-year-old has overseen key reforms as Minister for Labor Relations and Immigration this year.

Nanaia Mahuta – Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ms. Mahuta was the first female MP to ever wear a moko kauae, a cultural mark worn by Māori women, in Parliament, and was also the first woman to hold the role of Foreign Secretary.

Mrs Mahuta has ties to Māori royalty, with her father being the adopted son of King Korokī.

She got the tattoo in 2016 and said it offers “positive ways to enable cultural expression and to be proud to be Māori.

Though a potential contender, it’s likely that her role in the controversial Three Waters Reform will hurt her chances of taking the lead.

Grant Robertson – Deputy Prime Minister, MP for Wellington Central

He has ruled himself out, but the deputy prime minister has long been seen as Ms Ardern’s heir apparent and many believe the 51-year-old would be willing to reconsider should the party ask him to.

Mr Robertson, a twice-defeated leader, is perhaps Parliament’s finest debater, Ms Ardern’s closest ally and inseparable from her legacy.

A former diplomat and advisor, Mr Robertson would go on to make history as New Zealand’s first openly gay Prime Minister.

Source: Australian Associated Press

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11655399/Grant-Robertson-reconsider-New-Zealand-PM-Jacinda-Ardern-resigns.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Grant Robertson may reconsider becoming New Zealand PM after Jacinda Ardern resigns

Bradford Betz

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