Minister of Police: Who is Ginny Andersen?

Police Minister Ginny Andersen.

Stuart Nash is out, Ginny Andersen is in. So who is the new Minister of Police?

Ginny - short for Virginia - Andersen is the MP for Hutt South, the Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, Seniors, and Small Business. She is also the associate minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations. Until today, she was also the associate minister of Immigration - but has been relieved of that role by Mana MP Barbara Edmonds.

The daughter of school teachers, she spent her childhood on Great Barrier Island, but in her 2017 maiden speech said the family "moved around quite a bit", also living in Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa. She completed high school and university in Christchurch.

In that speech she said she traced her "Labour-ness" to her parents, who worked in low-decile schools.

"I grew up seeing the impact a teacher could have on someone's life... I sat next to kids and saw the beginning of the year, when they were quiet, withdrawn, even angry and violent. By the end of the year, a lot of those children became star performers. A bit of time, effort, attention, and care turned many lives around. It gave me faith in human nature," Andersen said.

Learning te reo Māori at school, Andersen also did a Bachelor of Arts in the subject and a political science master's degree, with a thesis on the Ngāi Tahu settlement.

In her maiden speech Andersen said her Māori "isn't that flash", however, on the Labour Party website it states she is fluent.

"What I love the most is it has given me a glimpse of life from a different perspective."

She said prior to entering Parliament, over 16 years as a public servant she had worked as an adviser for Labour and National governments.

"One thing that has motivated me to take the leap from being a public servant to a politician is seeing good policy thrown out because it was not popular. While consultation is an essential part of any decision-making process, I believe that it should not be purely driven by focus groups and polls. The public servant in me prefers a balance with research and evidence to show what works."

However, she said the job she "enjoyed the most" was for the police.

"It has been an honour to work alongside people who share the single common purpose of making New Zealand a safer place... My time at police confirmed to me that I have a strong desire to see positive changes made to the New Zealand justice system... While it is easy to acknowledge that building another prison is a mark of failure to this country, it is much harder to do something about it. It is all too easy to push the fear button and generate public support, but it is much harder to take real steps to reform our criminal justice system."

She said there were opportunities in the area for "greater access to mental health support, drug and alcohol treatment, social housing, employment, closer working partnerships with iwi, and just being open to doing things differently".

Police Minister Ginny Andersen.

"This Government has set a bold target of reducing our prison population by 30% over the next 15 years. I undertake to do whatever is required of me to work towards that goal."

Andersen also met her husband - Geoff, a dog handler - through the police, with whom she has four children.

A non-sworn staff member, Andersen started as a senior adviser and worked her way up to become the policy manager at the police national headquarters.

At that time she was a strategic adviser on Māori, Pacific and ethnic services with a focus on reducing Māori reoffending.

She was seconded into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under the John Key administration to working on the Tackling Methamphetamine Action Plan.

With three ministerial portfolios and two associate portfolios since February 1, Andersen has published one press release - on February 8.

It was a joint one, in her capacity as Small Business Minister, alongside Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister David Parker, announcing a $5 million package of emergency support to help businesses significantly affected by the Auckland floods.

Andersen ran in the Ōhariu seat in 2014, before replacing Trevor Mallard as the Labour Party candidate for Hutt South. Andersen lost the 2017 election to National's Chris Bishop, but entered Parliament via the Labour list. However, she won the seat in the 2020 election.

In March 2021 Andersen terminated a controversial and long-running subletting deal which saw Labour’s Hutt South wing pocketing thousands of dollars of taxpayer’s money each year.

At the time, Andersen told 1News she became uncomfortable with the arrangement and decided taxpayers deserved better.

When reporters were covering the story, rival Chris Bishop posed for a photo outside of Labour’s Petone office, and Andersen came out to confront him.

The ensuing exchange drew some amusement and became a meme online.

Andersen asked if she could get a photo too, and when Bishop noticed she was standing behind him, began to leave.

“Oh, come on Chris,” Andersen said.

“I don’t need to be in a photo with you,” Bishop said as he was walking away.

After he had left, Andersen told 1News she believed there was "an element of sour grapes there".


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