Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has allocated ACT leader David Seymour a new portfolio, allowing him oversight of the proposed Treaty Principles Bill.
Seymour will become an Associate Minister of Justice and manage the Bill. Previously, Paul Goldsmith was commenting on plans for the Bill as Justice Minister.
This move will give Seymour more ownership of the controversial legislation, which will be based on an ACT Party proposal to debate and define the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Seymour has said it’s time for New Zealanders to have this discussion, rather than leaving it up to judges and bureaucrats to make their own interpretations.
A leaked document last week revealed proposed principles and was a major talking point at a Kīngitanga hui on Saturday and at Rātana on Wednesday.
While introducing the Bill and supporting it to Select Committee is part of the National-ACT coalition deal, National has not committed to supporting it further (though it also hasn’t ruled it out).
As Prime Minister, Luxon has been forced to defend introducing the legislation, despite having called the proposal “divisive and unhelpful” as recently as this week. He’s made it clear that introducing the Bill was a compromise made by National during last year’s coalition negotiations.
The announcement on Friday came alongside a number of other new portfolio allocations.
“Ministers have hit the ground running since they were sworn in nearly two months ago with strong progress made on the coalition Government’s 100-day plan,” Luxon said.
“Today’s update further clarifies Ministers’ responsibilities in a small number of areas, supporting them in continuing to deliver on this Government’s ambitious work programme.”
New Zealand First MP Mark Patterson will become the associate Minister for Regional Development, while the party’s Jenny Marcroft will be a Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries. National’s Erica Stanford has had responsibility for the Crown’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care allocated to her.
The Government made it clear these changes don’t impact the make-up of Cabinet or the size of the executive.