Police Minister Ginny Andersen will take on the role of Justice Minister, in a move which Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says will align the portfolios “as we progress ram raid legislation to ensure young offenders face more accountability for their crimes”.
The other portfolios belonging to Kiri Allan, who resigned on Monday morning after an incident in which she allegedly drove into a parked car in Wellington late Sunday evening while over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, were also reallocated to existing ministers.
Kieran McAnulty, the Minister for Rural Communities, will take on Allan’s Regional Development portfolio. Allan’s associate transport role will go to Damien O’Connor and her associate finance job goes to Barbara Edmonds.
Separately from Allan’s resignation, Edmonds will also gain the Revenue Minister role off of David Parker, who asked to be relieved of the burden after taking Michael Wood’s transport job in June. Edmonds’ own associate health role will be redistributed among existing health ministers.
“Between now and the election our singular focus must be on making life better for everyday Kiwis. That is what I have sought to do, and I need everyone to do the same,” Hipkins said.
With just five weeks left until the House rises, he said he didn’t think it would make sense to elevate a new minister.
“There’s typically around 28 ministers in the ministry. We’ll be two ministers down heading into the election, I have absolute confidence that the remaining ministers in the ministry will be able to cover that workload until election day.”
Speaking earlier on Monday, Hipkins said Allan was “experiencing extreme emotional distress” on Sunday but that her actions are “inexcusable”.
A statement issued by police confirmed a crash had occurred on Evans Bay Parade in Wellington late on Sunday and that a person had been charged with “careless use of a motor vehicle, and refusing to accompany a police officer, and summonsed to appear in court at a later date. An infringement notice was also issued for excess breath alcohol between 250 and 400mcg.”
Hipkins said Allan was arrested around 9pm and at 10pm the Police Commissioner informed the Minister of Police, who subsequently contacted him.
“My initial concerns last night were for her immediate safety and wellbeing. It appears that some of her personal struggles came to a head yesterday and were contributing factors to this incident,” he said.
He spoke to Allan about what happened at 7am on Monday.
“I advised her that I did not believe she was in a fit state to hold a ministerial warrant. She expressed remorse and had already sent me a message just before that indicating that she intended to resign,” he said.
“She understood that retaining her ministerial warrant was untenable, especially for a Justice Minister to be charged with criminal offending. Kiri is now heading home and will be taking time to consider her future in politics.”
The Prime Minister said he didn’t believe he was responsible for the incident, saying he had done everything he could to ensure Allan was fit to return to work after taking two weeks of mental health leave earlier in July. Even that leave only happened after Hipkins ordered her to take it – he said Monday that Allan was “resistant” at the time. When she spoke to him at the tail end of the two weeks, he was convinced she was ready to come back.
“Ultimately, mental health is incredibly challenging in the sense that when someone comes to you, says that they feel that they’re on top of things, exhibits clearly all of the signs to suggest that they are, that puts you in a very, very difficult position,” he said.
“Those who saw her last week, in the House and here in the [Beehive] Theatrette launching the ram raid policy would have seen her at the top of her game. Last night’s incident, however, is evidence that there are not always quick fixes when it comes to mental health and things can flip very quickly and without warning.”
Hipkins added it was a big loss.
“Kiri is an incredibly talented person who clearly has been battling some demons and has not won that battle.”