WHO SHOULD BE HEALTH MINISTER
With New Zealand potentially on the brink of another outbreak of community transmission, Ardern cannot afford to change horses. Hipkins' first love is Education and he has made no secret that if he had to choose, he would prefer to stick with it.
But as Hipkins showed in his press conference yesterday about the first non-imported case since the August outbreak in Auckland, it is imperative that Ardern maintain continuity and that the public retain confidence in the minister.
There are only about three other able possibles in whom she would have the utmost confidence: David Parker, Megan Woods and Andrew Little, but in all likelihood it would take a couple of months to get one of them up to speed. Hipkins could perhaps keep
the tertiary sector portfolio, which would enable him to oversee reforms in polytechnics, vocational and skills training.
HOW TO WORK WITH THE GREEN PARTY
One decision is already obvious – there is no upside for the majority Labour Party to go to into a formal coalition involving Green MPs in cabinet.
Unless Cabinet started to operate on votes rather than consensus, that would require both parties to agree on any cabinet decision and that would reduce the influence of Labour just as it has achieved ultimate influence.
It would also reduce the independence of the Greens to distance itself from some Labour decisions.
The other options are a confidence and supply agreement with Green ministers outside Cabinet, a co-operation agreement or a memorandum of understanding, each of which could include agreements to implement some Green policies.
HOW TO CRACK THE WHIP ON INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
Jacinda Ardern cannot afford to have just any old minister in charge of the $42 billion being spent on infrastructure projects over the next four years on which so much is pinned for economic stimulus and recovery.
It has to be someone who can get things done. That limits her choices and there is only one obvious appointment. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has to be in charge of infrastructure to keep close tabs on progress, crack the whip and keep pressure on delivery. One more term of dithering would not be forgiven.
HOW TO MEET GROWING MAORI CAUCUS EXPECTATIONS
The election of a Maori Party MP in Waiariki and the potential of more in 2023 will give the Labour Maori caucus more leverage than it already has.
It will expect promotions of ministers outside Cabinet to Cabinet and backbenchers to ministerial posts. That would have happened without the needling
New Zealand Maori Council demanding so today. Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson are expected to be promoted into Cabinet.
More difficult decisions for Ardern will include whether to reinstate Meka Whaitiri as a minister and whether to make deputy Labour leader Kelvin Davis Deputy Prime Minister.
There would be no precedent for him not becoming so. The caucus will also be expecting an accelerated resolution of the Ihumatao dispute now that the New Zealand First "handbrake" is no longer there.
WHAT DO TO WITH THE BIG CLASS OF 2020
This is perhaps the best problem for any Prime Minister to have. Jacinda Ardern not only has a huge increase in MPs, to 64 - 18 more than in 2017 - but it is one of the biggest bunch of high achievers in any recent intake.
That could bring its own problems, however, in terms of putting the new talent to use so they are making the most of their qualification while not creating resentment within the existing backbench.
The class of 2020 has three doctors joining sitting list MP Dr Liz Craig: infectious diseases specialist Ayesha Verrall from the list, Dr Gaurav Sharma in Hamilton West and Dr Neru Leavasa in the new seat of Takanini.
The new intake also has at least five lawyers, including new Mana MP Barbara Edmonds, new Upper Harbour MP Vanushi Walters, new Manurewa MP Arena Williams, and new list MPs Camilla Belich and Rachel Brooking.
A large backbench in a Government party can also come with management problems if it is enacting a controversial agenda but Ardern has already sent signals that she wants incremental rather than radical change to maintain a broad base of support.
Early promotions are tipped for Ayesha Verrall and Barbara Edmonds.