Jacinda Ardern on ‘Redefining successful government”

In a speech while in New York Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has outlined what she sees as successful government, as in her lofty agenda.

Redefining successful government

Speech at International Conference on Sustainable Development

I began preparing my comments for today’s event while sitting at my constituency office in Auckland, New Zealand…

You could say the artefacts I sit amongst in that office sum up my life in politics.  It started with my family, has been full of role models and support, but ultimately is motivated by the idea that politics is a place you can address injustice.

I was raised the daughter of a policeman, and was a product of the 1980s where New Zealand went through a rapid period or privatisation and economic liberalisation. We called it Rogernomics after our Finance Minister of the time, in America the same phenomenon was called Reaganonmics, and the impact on working families was similar. Jobs were lost, manufacturing moved off shore, regulations removed and the gap between rich and poor rapidly expanded.

Then came the 1990s. A conservative government in New Zealand introduced reforms that brought user pay to the fore and welfare cuts for the poorest.

I was young when all of this was happening around me, but I still remember it. If it’s possible to build your social conscience when you are a school girl, then that is what happened to me. I never looked at the world through the lens of politics though, but rather through the lens of fairness.

And that sentiment captures one of the most pervasive values that we have in Aotearoa New Zealand. We are proud but also self-deprecating. Dreamers but also pragmatists. And if there is one thing we hate, it is injustice.

These are the values I believe we need to display in our politics. Because politics is increasingly a dirty word, but values are not.

An earnest politician would be hard pressed to argue with goals like halving poverty, preserving the sustainability of our oceans or inclusive education.

And we’ve started by redefining what success looks like.

Traditionally, success or failure in politics has been measured in purely economic terms. Growth, GDP, your trade deficit and the level of debt you carry. On those terms, you would call New Zealand relatively successful. But in the last few years the deficiency of such measures has become stark.

So we are establishing brand new measure of national achievement that go beyond growth.

Like many, New Zealand has not been immune to a period of rapid and transformational change these past few decades. Globalisation has changed the way we operate, but it has also had a material difference on the lives of our citizens.

Not everyone has been well served by those changes, however.

While at a global level economic growth has been unprecedented, the distribution of benefits has been uneven at the level of individuals and communities. In fact for many, the transition our economy made in the wake of globalisation has been jarring,

Now as politicians, we all have choices in how we respond to these challenges.

We’re investing more in research and development so that we improve the productivity of our economy, we’re focusing on shifting away from volume to value in our export, and we are committed to lifting wages.

We are modernising our Reserve Bank so that it works to keep both inflation and keeps unemployment low, and we’re committed to a better balanced and fairer tax system.

But we also need to do better at lifting the incomes of New Zealanders and sharing the gains of economic growth.

We are signing pay equity settlements with new groups of predominantly women workers, taking the pressure off families by extending paid parental leave to half a year, closing the gender pay gap and raising the minimum wage.

When fully rolled out our Families Package – a tax credit policy aimed at low and middle income earners – will lift thousands of children out of poverty.

But economic gains and growth matter for nothing if we sacrifice our environment along the way, or if we fail to prepare for the future. That’s why we are transitioning to a clean, green carbon neutral New Zealand.

But of course, we are nothing without our people. We have set ourselves some big goals, like ensuring that everyone who is able is either earning, learning, caring or volunteering – including making the first year of tertiary study completely free of fees.

We’re supporting healthier, safer and more connected communities, ensuring everyone has a warm, dry home, and last but not least, making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.

This agenda is personal to me.

I am the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction.

If I were to sum up our agenda though, it would be simple. I want to demonstrate that politics doesn’t have to be about three or four year cycles. It doesn’t have to be self-interested or have a singular focus.

It can think about long term challenges, and respond to them. It can be designed to think about the impact on others, and show that it’s making a difference. And it can even be kind.

As an international community I am constantly heartened by our ability to take a multilateral approach, to sign up to a set of aspirations that are values based.

But perhaps it’s time to also challenge ourselves to move beyond aspiration to action.

That is what we will be doing in our corner of the world.

And I can assure you we will never, never, never give up.

Highly idealistic. It will be good if some of this can be achieved reasonably well over time.

This is in stark contrast to the succession of problems of competence the government is having to deal with back here while she is away in New York – the realities of politics can be quite different to the lofty speech written rhetoric.

Ardern has already stumbled on her ideal of ‘open transparent government’, this has blown up further in her absence this week.

She has admirable goals, and is adept at talking the talk, but the challenge for her and her government will be walking the walk. They seem to be stumbling somewhat more than she cares to admit.

It will take time to see whether New Zealand will improve noticeably under Ardern’s leadership. If things like inequality, child poverty and climate change are substantially improved she will have done very well, but it will take much more than successful speeches on the world stage.

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59 Comments

  1. david in aus

     /  September 28, 2018

    A very vague speech. To paraphrase, do not determine the success of this government on any traditional measures but what we think is important. Feeling that you are doing something is more important actually achieving anything. Spending is equivalent to effects.

    She is speaking to the base. Left-leaning voters place more emphasis on feelings and intentions than effectiveness. Subjective over Objective. She was very careful not place any performance targets on her government; an ‘I feel your pain’ type appeal. There is nothing in the speech to appeal to the other side. Goals, such as improvements in child welfare and environment are wanted by all sides of politics but there differences on how we get there and tradeoffs that have to be made. The ban of oil and gas development is emblematic of this government: Declaration of intention and goals but careful considerations of the policy actually suggests no effects on emissions or worsening with economic hits.

    It is okay to have different goals but all good governments should be accountable. We should value substance and responsibility over intentions and feelings. This is what differentiates adulthood from naive childhood.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  September 28, 2018

      so what do we judge a Govt on?

      How much they borrow,whether or not they run a surplus?…you tell me.

      Reply
      • david in aus

         /  September 28, 2018

        Results

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  September 28, 2018

          WC results…come on…don’t be shy!

          Reply
          • david in aus

             /  September 28, 2018

            Common sense, if you value climate change- emissions, childhood deprivation- reduction in child abuse, the economy- numbers employed, education- improvement in international comparisons for all children etc.

            Good governments don’t necessarily meet their own targets but they have targets, and then assess where they fell short. Feelings are not enough.
            This government has removed objective targets and measures, what does that tell you?

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  September 28, 2018

              here SFL…has run away like a startled chook…see if you can answer…..

              ‘what worthwhile ,tangible changes do you attribute to the last administration over 9 years?Love to know.

        • A dirty word there. The R word OMG. Wash your mouth out

          Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  September 28, 2018

      David in Aus said (revealingly):
      “There is nothing in the speech to appeal to the other side.”
      Kindness was a major part of Jacinda’s message. Kindness doesn’t appeal to David’s “other side” ??

      Reply
      • david in aus

         /  September 28, 2018

        Kindness is a given, as is respect and humanity. We want more than vacuous words. What we expect from the government is the way we improve the nation and not just adolescent feelings.

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  September 28, 2018

          Plenty of improvement going on … and plenty more planned or being developed.

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  September 28, 2018

          still waiting to hear the tangible benefits of the prior administration….stumped the panel!

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  September 28, 2018

            I suspect it’ll go down in history rather like the old “poor Roger Douglas” number

            “If only they’d had the chance to implement ‘Social Investment Approach'” …

            Not sure what affect that would’ve had on house prices though …?

            Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  September 28, 2018

          Kindness isn’t being given, that’s the issue. Jacinda’s message is inspiring, David, because politics isn’t behaving kindly ever always.
          And “adolescent feelings”??
          Patriarch much.

          Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  September 28, 2018

          But you can’t put a price on the improvement of individual and communal feeling of well-being, community spirit, sense of worth [not $ value], aspirations and above all ‘collective psyche’ …

          It might even be argued that all improvement ultimately stems from these and other ‘ethereal’ things?

          Reply
          • robertguyton

             /  September 28, 2018

            Indeed.

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  September 28, 2018

            Well, according to the speakers at that video you posted yesterday – you can – and you should expect value for money from regional spending?

            Reply
    • Griff.

       /  September 28, 2018

      The ban of oil and gas development is emblematic of this government: Declaration of intention and goals but careful considerations of the policy actually suggests no effects on emissions or worsening with economic hits.,

      Careful consideration of this statement leaves me with the conclusion that you have no capability of careful consideration instead rely on feelz .
      1 Industry in NZ needs a clear direction to make informed investments. The policy clearly sets out that in NZ moving away from coal towards gas is not a viable long term solution. The policy reinforces it is more viable to transition straight towards carbon neutral energy than using gas as an interim measure
      2 The cost of our present gas resource is about double what it trades for on the international market so we would be better off economically importing gas .
      3 The present most likely significant gas prospect is off shore in the deep south. If gas is found it will cost far more to developed and carry for greater environment risks than bringing it in from resources not exposed to one of the most extreme marine environments in the world.
      4 Climate change is real we will have to stop altering the planets atmosphere by 2050 or face the collapse of organized human civilization. Investing in a search for more resources that if used will continue altering the planets atmosphere is suicidal insanity.

      Reply
  2. Strong For Life

     /  September 28, 2018

    There’s an old adage: Actions speak louder than words. Ms Ardern is adept at talking slogans and feel good messages but to date there has been little action. When will the grandstanding, glib messages and photo opportunities end and some worthwhile tangible changes appear?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  September 28, 2018

      what worthwhile ,tangible changes do you attribute to the last administration over 9 years?Love to know.

      Reply
  3. Corky

     /  September 28, 2018

    ”And we’ve started by redefining what success looks like.”

    Well, Jacinda, you may have redefined what success looks like…but the world hasn’t.

    And what\s the the use of redefining success if your country is going backwards?

    Reply
    • david in aus

       /  September 28, 2018

      Venezuela has redefined success.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  September 28, 2018

        Yes, their supermarkets could teach our boys a thing or two about creating extra space to display merchandise.

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  September 28, 2018

          Maxwell Smart – “Ah Chief, the old ‘False Dichotomy’ and ‘Appeal to Ignorance’ Venezuela arguments together as one … It’s only the third time I’ve heard them this week … ”

          https://thebestschools.org/magazine/15-logical-fallacies-know/#falsedilemma

          See also 3) argumentum ad ignorantiam

          “The false dilemma fallacy is often a manipulative tool designed to polarize the audience, heroicizing one side and demonizing the other. It’s common in political discourse as a way of strong-arming the public into supporting controversial legislation or policies.”

          Venezuela has got precisely SFA to do with this …

          Reply
          • david in aus

             /  September 28, 2018

            Venezuela is a very good example.

            If people are starving; they have solved the obesity epidemic.
            If cars and buses are unable to be on the road due to the lack of parts; they have reduced CO2 admissions.
            If supermarkets are empty; there is a lack of demand for junk food.
            If all the votes are for Maduro; he has popular support.

            If it is clear that the country turning into crap; Leftists will say, it wasn’t real Socialism.

            I am being facetious by the way.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  September 28, 2018

              and if david is in aus…we have solved the problem..of david in nz.

            • david in aus

               /  September 28, 2018

              Say david in Glenfield, like Rachel Hunter. Like it makes a difference.

            • Blazer

               /  September 28, 2018

              you need to understand where money comes from.

              Iraq,Afghanistan and Libya were 3 countries that did not have reserve banks.
              Nth Korea,Iran and Cuba are the only 3 left.

              All fiat currencies are tied to faith in the U.S dollar.US military might and the Saudis petro dollar policy, negotiated by Kissinger after the abandonment of the gold standard are the pertinent factors.

              Post war the Bretton Woods agreement served the world well,but the cost of armaments and war brought about the demise of the GS.

              Prices and currencies were relatively stable prior to Nixon.

          • Corky

             /  September 28, 2018

            Parti, I have already told you this is a blog, not a formal debate. Ever wondered why no one reads research papers and formal studies.?

            Yeah, that’s right. You are asleep by the second paragraph.

            I think you’re repairing to formal debate rules because your emperor has been found not only wearing no clothes…but also having no real world argument.

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  September 28, 2018

              Utter piffle … The site was simply a place to find cogent explanations of the logical fallacies …

              Happy to just trade ad hom insults with you Corky … If that’s as deep as you go …

            • Corky

               /  September 28, 2018

              I don’t take blogging seriously, Parti. But as you know I’m always up for a scrap.

        • Blazer

           /  September 28, 2018

          Venezuela is experiencing the Python grip of that tiny elite that want to control one of the worlds biggest reserves of…oil.

          Squeeze the domestic supply of goods and inflict pain on the populace,cultivate and finance insurrection to restore a compliant regime that takes orders from…U.S vested interests.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  September 28, 2018

            Oh, well … it does have something to do with it then … except in precisely the opposite way to what David in Aus means …

            Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 28, 2018

      And what\s the the use of redefining success if your country is going backwards?
      Is it though?

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  September 28, 2018

        Using Jacinda’s words..success isn’t just about economics. Same with a country in decline.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  September 28, 2018

          Outcomes are what counts. By 2020 we should have some meaningful data.
          Provided the coalition doesn’t implode before then.

          Reply
  4. robertguyton

     /  September 28, 2018

    Here come the nit-pickers!

    Reply
  5. artcroft

     /  September 28, 2018

    It’s a speech that replaces pragmatism with sentiment, wisdom with waffle and Labour with New Zealand First.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  September 28, 2018

      Three draws..three bullseyes. You are slick drawing today, Arty.

      Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  September 28, 2018

      The pragmatism of purely GDP-based success-measurement, the wisdom of ‘The Social Investment Approach’, and the unheard of, completely Rightie-unsupported idea of putting NZ first …

      Them bottles still lined up on dat fence there Arty … Heck … Ya done missed!

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  September 28, 2018

        Ironically this govt quickly moved to remove objective measurements in education, health, and police to name a few.

        What they actually want is to have subjective measurements implemented, where at all possible, in order to hide their general ineptness.

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  September 28, 2018

          I doubt if all so-called ‘objective’ measurements have gone PDB … Pure objectivity of course being impossible for subjective beings to accomplish …

          We attempt it and that’s admirable … but dollar value isn’t objective …

          And since life is rather a subjective undertaking Labour-led’s approach seems appropriate to me …

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  September 28, 2018

          Very insightful, PDB. Objectivity is a bane for people who profess certain ideologies strategies and debates.

          No better is that illustrated then in the martial arts when a fighter has his style put to the test.

          While it may be great to see some pompous self deluded master get a reality check, we must ask ourselves whether it’s as funny watching children go through our education system without any objective marker as to their progress, or lack thereof.

          Reply
      • artcroft

         /  September 28, 2018

        Please see your local optometrist Partz. You prescription needs adjustment.

        Reply
  6. NOEL

     /  September 28, 2018

    It was an address to the World. I dunno fits with NZ value “yah have to at the least try.”

    Reply
  7. Rickmann

     /  September 28, 2018

    From a raptuous, warm and fuzzy UN the PM will be coming back to the new government’s first anniversary of being in power about sometime next month – which will probably be time for another speech and yes, some more Neve photo ops. However, it could be that while she and her supporters are feeling warm and fuzzy the nation could be falling into stagflation as the numerous pay rises (and growing and as yet to be settled claims) and higher fuel prices/charges/levies work their way through to the supermarket shelves and services prices against a global backdrop of rising oil prices, tightening credit markets , declining economic activity and trade. This of course does not include more shenanigans with our less than impressive ministers and MPs. Reality just might intrude.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  September 28, 2018

      @Rickmann – ” … against a global backdrop of rising oil prices, tightening credit markets , declining economic activity and trade.”

      At least you acknowledge that Jacinda Ardern and Labour-led are not ENTIRELY responsible for absolutely ALL of it …

      Some improvement in business confidence, that wonderfully ethereal measurement Righties rely on so much, might repudiate your assertion we “could be falling into stagflation” …?

      I see you’ve really nailed it though … Above all else we must never have “pay rises” …

      Reply

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