Chris Hipkins, who took office as New Zealand’s 41st prime minister following Jacinda Ardern’s abrupt resignation last week, pledged Wednesday to make the cost of living “a top priority.”
Hipkins told reporters after the first ministerial meeting, “I’m sure New Zealanders will understand that the cost of living is really central to our agenda in the coming weeks and months. prize.
“This is the number one priority we face as a government and they will see concrete evidence of that. ” he added.
Hipkins, 44, was the only nominee nominated for the top role in the ruling Labor Party after Ardern announced there was “not enough left in the tank” to lead the country.
He served as Minister of Education and Police under Ardern and previously led the country’s COVID-19 response.
“This is the greatest privilege and responsibility of my life,” Hipkins said at the swearing-in ceremony. “I feel energized and excited about the challenges that lie ahead.”
Carmel Ceproni was also appointed deputy prime minister, the first time a person of Pacific Island descent has been appointed deputy prime minister.
It’s an honor and a privilege. Now let’s get to work! pic.twitter.com/XdNFCUowE9
— Carmel Sepuloni (@CarmelSepuloni) January 25, 2023
Hipkins will hold the role just over eight months before contesting the general election.
He is considered more of a centrist than the leftist Ardern. One of his biggest challenges during an election year is convincing voters that his party is managing the economy well.
New Zealand’s consumer price index rose 7.2% in the year to December 2022. This is mainly due to an increase in residential and domestic utilities such as construction and rent.
In a statement Wednesday, Statistics New Zealand said the cost of building a home had risen by 14% in the 12 months to December 2022, while rental costs rose by 4.4% over the same period.
Ardern made her last official appearance as prime minister on Tuesday, describing the leadership transition as “bittersweet”. I plan to remain a member of the Diet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.