Hipkins excited about new roles
New cabinet minister Chris Hipkins was in his Upper Hutt electorate office on November 3 for a first time since he, and the country, learned there was a Labour-led Government.
While a fourth term as the Labour MP for Rimutaka was confirmed with an increased majority early on election night, Hipkins’ big career change came later with his taking on several Cabinet portfolios.
It means the time he will be able to spend in his electorate will be affected.
‘‘I’m realistic that there will be a more constraints on my time but I’ll still try and get out and about to as many things as I can,’’ Hipkins said at his Main St office.
‘‘That’s how I’ve managed to get such a good strong following in Upper Hutt,’’ the 39-year-old said.
Locals were proud of his elevation to Minister for Education, State Services and Ministerial Services. He is also Leader of the House, responsible for managing government business in Parliament.
‘‘They’re really happy to have a local MP who is at a fairly senior level in government, people are really chuffed by that. I’ve had a phenomenal amount of feedback.
‘‘The people through the Hutt that I’ve spoken to in the last two weeks are realistic about the fact I’m going to have a much bigger workload.
‘‘They’re keen to see me doing a good job and there’s a bit of understanding my time is going to be more pressured.
‘‘Even the people who didn’t vote for you want you to succeed,’’ Hipkins said.
‘‘People don’t want a disastrous government, they want a strong government even it it’s not what they voted for.’’
Three months out from election day Hipkins was resolved to a fourth consecutive term in opposition.
‘‘If I was beng honest I’d have said it wasn’t looking very good and then everything changed,’’ the Trentham resident said.
‘‘The reality with politics is the tide turns eventually, for any government, and I think the previous government were caught a little bit by surprise with the speed with which it did turn on them.’’
Hipkins is moving at pace on election promises in education and has already detailed the Government’s moves to making the first year of tertiary learning or training free from January next year.
‘‘I’ve had six years as opposition education spokesperson, that’s six years to think about what I’d do if I got the top job,’’ he said.
‘‘So when I sat down with my first meeting with the Ministry of Education I wasn’t saying ‘OK here I am what do we do now’. I was saying ‘here’s what I want to do, let’s get started’.
‘‘That was really awesome.’’