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.’’