Faafoi gets down to busi­ness


Sit­ting by Porirua Skatepark, in­com­ing min­is­ter Kris Faafoi says he hopes to de­liver a more grass­roots ap­proach to gov­ern­ment.

The Mana MP was re­cently an­nounced as Labour’s Min­is­ter of Com­merce and Con­sumer Af­fairs, as well as Civil De­fence Min­is­ter, and as­so­ciate Immigration Min­is­ter.

Both Faafoi and his pre­de­ces­sor, Na­tional’s Jac­qui Dean, worked in tele­vi­sion - he as a reporter on the 6pm news and she as pre­sen­ter of Play School - so what new fo­cus will he bring to the Com­merce and Con­sumer Af­fairs port­fo­lio?

‘‘We’ve seen bud­gets cut for [com­mu­nity] bud­get ad­vi­sors re­cently. Slowly over time, the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment eroded that abil­ity for peo­ple to get ba­sic bud­get help,’’ Faafoi said.

‘‘You’ll see much more com­pas­sion, and that’s about mak­ing sure there’s more ac­cess to bud­get­ing ad­vice.

‘‘These are things that are core to Labour, to make sure those peo­ple who are vul­ner­a­ble get as much help as pos­si­ble, and make sure they can lift them­selves out of any is­sues they have.’’

He has be­gun work on find­ing ways to limit tough in­ter­est rates put for­ward by third-tier lenders as per Labour’s elec­tion pol­icy.

Faafoi sees him­self as a safe pair of hands, able to work across the eco­nomic spec­trum.

‘‘At a higher gov­er­nance level things like the Fi­nan­cial Markets Au­thor­ity and the Com­merce Com­mis­sion are still im­por­tant work, but I think we need to put a bit more of a hu­man face and some plain English be­hind some of the things [around those port­fo­lios].’’

De­spite his ad­vo­cacy work around grow­ing state hous­ing in Porirua, he was not sur­prised to have missed out on the hous­ing port­fo­lio where much of the need is in Auck­land.

‘‘It won’t stop my ad­vo­cacy for it, and I know that there are some projects un­der­way al­ready to make sure we get some build­ing done here in Porirua.

‘‘I can’t go into too much at the mo­ment, but I’ve al­ready had some con­ver­sa­tions to make sure that a lot of the com­mit­ments we’ve made over the years in terms of mak­ing sure there’s more houses here avail­able... we will sup­port those kinds of ini­tia­tives.

‘‘It’s some­thing per­sonal to me be­cause I had the same priv­i­lege, and there’s a mas­sive need for more hous­ing here in Porirua and the Ka¯piti Coast.’’

Faafoi re­quested the Civil De­fence port­fo­lio out of a de­sire to help com­mu­ni­ties pre­pare them­selves. ‘‘It’s about mak­ing sure we’re ready. It’s a grass­roots thing. Mak­ing sure peo­ple get the mes­sage about be­ing pre­pared.

‘‘If you ask me which [port­fo­lio] I’m more wor­ried about, it’s Civil De­fence be­cause I have some statu­tory obli­ga­tions that could make a dif­fer­ence be­tween peo­ple liv­ing and dy­ing in an emer­gency.’’

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