The Government graded

Newsroom has had a go at Grading the Government

  • Economy: B
    GDP growth is on track for around three percent in 2018 and positive signs for businesses’ own activities have kept the economy on an even keel.

I think it’s too soon to call on the Government’s effect on the economy.

  • Budget: B
    The Government inherited a Budget and an economy benefiting from strong income tax and GST receipts.
    …it also uncovered through the 2018 Budget round that it had inherited health and education budgets stretched by years of restrained capital spending and very fast population growth.

What they inherited is fortuitous. Stretched health and education budgets should have been obvious before the election when they made spending promises. Their rushed and large tertiary education spend seems to have had little effect but commit to a large increase in spending to limit other spending increases. Their budgeting can’t be judged until at least their first budget, due next month.

  • Open government and transparency: F
    Perhaps its biggest failure.

So far, yes, one of it’s biggest failures. OIA abuse is disgraceful, and Minister of Open Government Clare Curran has had an awful and opposite start.

  • Immigration: D
    The annual net migration numbers remain close to those assailed in opposition as disastrous and uncontrolled. 

Labour and NZ First talked big on slashing immigration and have changed little. Last year net immigration peaked at about 72,000, the most recent figure was 68,000, nowhere near the promised 30,000 (Labour) and far less promised by NZ First.

  • Foreign Affairs: C
    It’s difficult to get a sense of Winston Peters’ guiding principles when it comes to New Zealand’s foreign policy.

C is generous. One of the few things Peters has not been vague about is his promotion of Russian trade. And Ardern seems to have poor communication with Peters.

  • Trade: B
    An early trade test for Ardern and company came in the form of the Trans Pacific Partnership, but political veteran David Parker… has handled the portfolio largely well. The bizarre Russia FTA proposal is now off the table, although not before causing some damage.

So Parker good, Peters bad on trade.

  • Environment: B
    The Prime Minister made headlines across the world with the announcement there’d be no new oil and gas exploration permits.  A more substantial move was setting up an interim climate change commission to advise on the shape of a Zero Carbon Act to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. 

The oil and gas permit announcement was poorly managed and seemed poorly prepared for – see No cost analysis, no consultation, no idea on oil and gas ban.

James Shaw has started quietly but confidently on net zero emissions by 2050 but it’s far too soon to tell what the reality of this target will mean.

  • Education: B+
    Chris Hipkins is a capable minister…While still early days, his ambitious plan to review and overhaul the entire school system should be applauded. Suggestions the introduction of a fees-free first year of tertiary education has had little impact on student enrolments will be worrying for the Government.

Generous. Hard to judge Hipkins ambitious plans that are subject to a review. Fees-free looks like it could have been a rushed and expensive commitment which was poorly thought through. No mention of Hipkins rush to scrap Partnership Schools with poor consultation.

  • Health: B+

I have no idea how a B+ is warranted. Most possible changes have been put to committees. Serious questions should be asked Minister David Clark over the Middlemore claims. If he doesn’t deliver on a promised new Dunedin hospital he will be in trouble down here (and decisions have been delayed despite his prior claims of urgency being required). And the Government has been running a softening up PR campaign blaming the last Minister for making budget decisions difficult.

  • Transport: B-
    There’s a lot to like in the Government’s transport policy, but its announcement and delivery was badly bungled and left people either scratching their heads or seriously brassed off.

There’s a lot many people are concerned about in what Ministers have been saying about transport, especially on higher fuel excise (claimed to be not a tax increase by Ardern) and the rush to shift people out of cars and into expensive to implement trains, and very contentious cycleways.

  • Political management: C+
    In the grading system used for the NCEA, the coalition Government has scored an ‘achieved’: one-sixth of the way through its first term and the cabinet and wider executive are intact. No one from New Zealand First has had to be jettisoned, no Labour or Greens ministers stood down or inquired into.

But is that good management? There are unanswered questions about Ardern’s political management, and Ministers working on related policies seem to have communicated poorly.

Effort on PR management: A
Implementation on political management: D

Ardern is at real risk of being exposed for a fixation with personality politics absent substance.

  • First 100 Days: A
    Sneaking in just two days before its self-imposed deadline, it’s hard to view the 100-day checklist of to-dos as anything but a resounding success.
    A year of free tertiary education – check. Ban foreign home buyers – success despite claims it couldn’t be done.

A success as a PR exercise perhaps, with many of their promises deferred to working groups and committees.

As sound policy it is much more questionable. Both free tertiary education and foreign home buyers now appear to have lacked effectiveness and have created problems.

  • Housing: B-
    Labour had a clear plan to launch Kiwibuild, ban foreign buying of homes and extend the two-year bright-line test to five years.

The foreign buyer ban has proved problematic, it’s too soon to tell what effect the extension to the bright-line test will have, and the ‘clear plan to launch Kiwibuild’ still looks a long way off any actual plan let alone results.

As with other policies the Government is finding implementation much harder than talk. Minister Phil Twyford is also looking less than solid.

  • Families Package/child poverty: B
    Axing National’s tax cuts in favour of a families package designed to lift children out of poverty was a key pre-election policy for Labour.
    More controversial is a winter energy payment to help people pay their heating bills.

They have delivered on promises, but it’s too soon to see whether this will have much effect on ‘poverty’ numbers. They have taken a political risk scrapping tax cuts for all low and medium paid people in favour of families and rich pensioners.

  • Strong regions: B
    The Provincial Growth Fund continues to surprise. Some of its investments – an expensive roundabout in Northland, the ‘Chardonnay Express’ in Gisborne, and the Cathedral restoration in Taranaki – seem to stretch the remit of provincial economic growth but the fund has yet to cause serious damage to Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’s reputation.

This could turn out to be a boost for regions and a boost for Jones’ and NZ First’s re-election chances, or it could be seen as a cynical slush fund. Too soon to call.

  • Workplace Relations: B-
    In its first tranche of employment law announcements in January, Minister Iain Lees-Galloway surprised many by softening, rather than abolishing, the often-criticised 90-day trial periods.
     A coalition concession means the minimum wage will rise rapidly to $20 by 2020.
    But generating the most talk are plans to introduce Fair Pay Agreements.

There have been warnings about the flow on effects and unintended consequences of rapidly increasing the minimum wage. Far too soon to call.

‘Fair Pay Agreements’ look like being a very contentious return to imposed union power.

Not mentioned are the wage claims and threats of industrial action in the expensive health and education sectors.

A first six months is scant time to sort out substance from PR and pre-election promises.

The Government has so far survived intact, but faces many challenges – a big one being getting next month’s budget right, or at least an acceptable and safe balance.

A big unknown looming is Ardern’s birth and baby break – the timing must be uncertain, as are possible complications (modern child bearing has relatively low risks but  they aren’t zero). And how Peters will perform as acting PM, currently planned for 6 weeks, could be interesting.

And Labour’s deputy Kelvin Davis has failed to step up so far so is a possible weak line.

But this will be judged later – like many of the Government’s policies and ambitions, some of which will be difficult to judge for years.

Leave a comment

25 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  April 26, 2018

    the last Govt set the bar low for competence=borrow money,sell off NZ to foreign buyers,so this one will have no problem in …comparison.National Govts maintain the status quo,Labour Govts take risks and go for changes.As usual the spectre of big business acceptance of policy looms…large.

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  April 26, 2018

      tautoko Blazer.. at least this New Govt. is being seen to make change..
      not just drift along & keep the 50.1+% happy (as ‘Team Key/english’ did for 9 LOOOOOONG years).. regardless of the increasing wealth gap & degradation of the environment etc. etc. etc. that they saw as the priority ?!

      I disagree with the ‘F’ there have been a few hiccups, but hardly a covert conspiracy..
      btw; Natl complained that they have not answered OIA requests in a ‘timely manner’ all 6000+ (?) trivial nonsense… submitted in the first month
      Maybe; Perhaps they were more interested in actually forming a working Govt. & implementing their 100 day plan first.. rather than play the silly game

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  April 26, 2018

        Zedd: “disagree with the ‘F’ there have been a few hiccups, but hardly a covert conspiracy..”

        Only if you ignore all the MSM that are complaining that this govt is making it more difficult to get information, the burying of reports that don’t support their arguments, attempting to blackmail a National MP, interfering with the independence of RNZ & not rectifying the public record when they knew it was incorrect, lying about the existence of the Labour/NZL First governing document, refusing to talk to the partnership schools that don’t have ties to govt ministers, spinning lies to the MSM about Middlemore hospital, pushing through major changes that weren’t signaled during the election campaign, trying to hide sexual assault allegations within the main governing party, & supporting the anti-democratic ‘waka-jumping’ bill.

        Otherwise all good!

        Reply
        • Zedd

           /  April 26, 2018

          I think its called ‘sorting your priorities’ & addressing those at the top of the list.. first !
          NOT just reacting to the ‘ongoing crises’ (as happened under the last mob) & all the media alerts.. whilst keeping one eye on the polls 😦 😀

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  April 26, 2018

          the burying of reports that don’t support their arguments

          Standard practice for governments of all shades (everwhere in the universe, I understand from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).

          Unfair to pad a small list out with that one.

          Reply
          • PDB

             /  April 26, 2018

            You forget to mention this govt specifically said that they would be the most transparent and open ever – burying unfavourable reports is hardly that.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  April 26, 2018

              A minor trangression, don’t sweat the small stuff.

    • PDB

       /  April 26, 2018

      Best to get your spin/deflection in early Blazer as so far this govt has been a total dishonest & inept mess.

      The ‘F’ for ‘Open government and transparency’ is not only generous but damning.

      Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  April 26, 2018

      To exaggerate for effect, and I hate to say it, like Hitler Youth responding to a poll about Jewry …

      I heard Garner say Bad/Awful combined got up to 66% …

      That’s really good news! It means 34% of Garner’s viewer/listeners are not his relatively few, die-hard, Right Brigade, confirmation-bias seeking ‘followers’ …

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  April 26, 2018

        Need to try harder in your spin PZ – it’s a poll on behalf of Garner’s show but sitting on the Newshub site and available for all their readers to vote with a link from their home page. Newshub ‘right wing’? Don’t think so.

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  April 26, 2018

          Buggered if I can find that poll? It doesn’t appear on the link you put up …10 hrs ago it says … not there on my computer anyhow … Can’t find it on their home page …

          I see the linked page has all of 1.1K likes? Might be the same 1100 people who like Hobson’s Pledge?

          Gee … 0.03055% of the voting age population!

          Reply
          • PDB

             /  April 26, 2018

            Link goes straight to it – 8.6k votes. Did you use a typewriter instead of a computer by any chance?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  April 26, 2018

              No link comes up in Chrome on my iPad2 either.
              I thort the video discussion was quite good. Got a pukeko just jumped up & stomping around on my patio clearlight roof. Probably Aspen. I’ll see what he thinks. 🤔

            • Gezza

               /  April 26, 2018

              Aspen wasn’t interested.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 26, 2018

              That is a poor analogy (Hitler Youth and Jewry) PZ. The answer would have been obvious there, but with the Newshub one and a number of political views in NZ, the result was unlikely to be easily predicted. It’s a pointless comparison.

              I see that a ski resort and town have been named after Aspen, lucky pook.

  2. Zedd

     /  April 26, 2018

    Reality Check; this Govt. have only been in power for SIX MONTHS.. not 9 loooooooong years.. maybe its time to ‘give them a break’ rather than just spew constant vitriol; ‘Anger’ is one of the stages of LOSS ! (just after denial ?) :/

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  April 26, 2018

      Spinning out their Zedd – the reality is most govts are incapable of stuffing up this much in their first few months and are usually still on a public high after winning the election – ain’t happening here due to a mixture of incompetence, lack of leadership & dishonesty.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  April 26, 2018

        really ?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  April 26, 2018

          I hardly think they’re in their death throes yet but they do seem to have a few active foot-shooters.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 26, 2018

            Jacinda saying that she has always been pro-immigration and praising the virtues of this….calling the new tax an excise…saying that it was not going to be 20c a litre…

            I can’t like the idea that reducing the number of beneficiaries is to be discouraged, and believe that the vilifying of WINZ and its staff as heartless misers who try to keep people from finding out what they are ‘entitled to’ is very misleading.

            Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  April 26, 2018

      Oh well … they’re ‘stuffed’ … mostly in a “puffed-up” sorta sense …

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  April 26, 2018

        Could be worse … mind you, there’s still scope for deterioration … o_O

        Also scope for improvement – the forthcoming Budget’s their opportunity to show their mettle & their competence.

        Reply
  1. Ministers rated, too soon to judge Government performance | Your NZ

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