(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced a cabinet reshuffle that he said will better focus his government on key voter concerns ahead of an October election.

“The new cabinet will be focused on core bread and butter issues like the cost of living, education, health, housing and keeping communities and businesses safe,” Hipkins said Tuesday in Wellington. “We need a greater focus on what’s in front of New Zealanders right now. The new cabinet line up strengthens that focus.” 

Support for the ruling Labour Party jumped in two polls published yesterday after Hipkins replaced Jacinda Ardern in the top job last week. He has signaled he will row back some unpopular policies and seek to regain center-ground voters by focusing on the economy as it slides toward recession.  

Hipkins confirmed Grant Robertson remains finance minister, saying he will “apply his full focus on fighting inflation and helping New Zealand families and businesses to get by.”

Michael Wood is a big mover, rising to 7 from 16 in the cabinet rankings. He becomes Minister for Auckland and an associate finance minister in addition to retaining the transport and immigration portfolios. 

Housing Minister Megan Woods remains a senior member of Labour’s front bench at number 5, while new Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni jumps to number 2, keeping social development and employment and adding associate foreign affairs.

Nanaia Mahuta has been demoted. She remains Foreign Minister but loses her local government portfolio to Kieran McAnulty and drops to 16 from 9 in the rankings. She has failed to tamp down concerns about the government’s planned reforms of water infrastructure, leaving it open to attack from the opposition.

Stuart Nash takes the police portfolio from Hipkins, who as prime minister takes over national security and intelligence. Andrew Little loses health to Ayesha Verrall, but gains defense. Jan Tinetti gets education.

“In the reshuffle I have balanced the need for stability with renewal,” Hipkins said. “New Zealanders want to see the government getting on with the job but I also want to demonstrate the depth of our talent and bring some new energy and focus to the task ahead.”

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