National Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Paula Bennett to the new position of Spokesperson for Drug Reform as the Government pushes ahead with its agenda of drug decriminalisation, to signal National’s commitment to holding them to account.
Mr Bridges has also appointed Amy Adams Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Mitchell Spokesperson for Pike River Re-entry and Nick Smith Spokesperson for Crown-Maori Relations, filling the positions formerly held by outgoing MP Chris Finlayson, while Shane Reti will take over the Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment portfolio from Mrs Bennett.
Incoming MP Agnes Loheni will be appointed the Associate Spokesperson for Small Business and Associate Pacific Peoples roles when she enters Parliament next month.
“New Zealanders expect their Government to be firm but fair. When it comes to drugs we need a well-thought through and evidence-based approach to drug reform that balances public safety with the need to help vulnerable people.
“This Government’s confused and dangerous commitment to decriminalisation and its soft approach to crime shows it’s not up to that task.
“Our work creating a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime shows we are and that’s why I’ve created this new portfolio which will coordinate the work being done across our policy teams in health, education and law and order.
“It will build on our significant work in Government around the Meth Action Plan, cracking down on drug dealers and stopping trafficking at our borders, while ensuring those who need rehabilitation get access to the best services.
“There is no better person than former Police Minister Paula Bennett who has a thorough understanding of the issues to coordinate this work.
“To allow Mrs Bennett to focus on this important task, Dr Reti will take over the Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment portfolio. Through his excellent work on National’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill and in his Cyber Security portfolio, he has shown he will do an exacting job in holding this Government to account and progressing National’s plans.
“As a lawyer and former Justice Minister Amy Adams will also prove a formidable Attorney-General, Mark Mitchell is doing an excellent job as our Justice spokesperson and his appointment reflects the fact the Justice Minister holds the Pike River Re-entry portfolio while Dr Smith’s appointment to the Crown-Maori portfolio aligns with his work in State Services and will ensure the Government is held to account.”