Wellington: New Zealand’s newly sworn-in Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday that tackling the “inflation pandemic” will be his top priority.
The ‘bread-and-butter’ issues that New Zealanders are most concerned about are needed to be addressed, Hipkins told a press conference after his first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister.
Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand prime minister on Wednesday, with his predecessor Jacinda Ardern officially tendering her resignation.
The swearing-in ceremony held at the Government House saw Hipkins officially taking up the top job and Carmel Sepuloni becoming the deputy prime minister.
The unchanged inflation figure of 7.2 percent in the 12 months to December 2022, released on Wednesday, confirmed this is “the right immediate focus” for the government he led, Hipkins said.
The level of inflation was clearly not sustainable, he said, adding the cost-of-living pressures have been caused by the global economic situation.
Hipkins also compared the 7.2 per cent inflation in New Zealand with 7.8 per cent in Australia, 10.5 per cent in Britain, 10.3 per cent as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average, 11.1 per cent in the European Union.
As Prime Minister, he will talk with businesses in Auckland on Thursday, with global worker shortage expected to be one of main topics.
Hipkins will reshuffle the cabinet next week.
Besides the top leadership role, he himself will be the minister of national security and intelligence.
Announcing her resignation last week, Ardern said after five and a half years of the top leadership role, she could not keep going for another year or term after careful consideration.
Hipkins said on Tuesday he and Ardern have reflected on the last few years, adding “it’s a bittersweet moment”.
New Zealand’s 2023 General Election will be held on October 14.