Government needs to step up and walk their transformational hype in 2019

Over the last year the incoming Labour-led Government had some big challenges, in particular to get themselves in a position to run the country after unexpected success in the 2017 election and subsequent coalition negotiations.

With some notable exceptions, like Clare Curran, Meka Whaitiri, and the difficulties getting Kiwibuild up to speed, they have largely been successful – so far.

2019 poses different challenges. The Government deferred many decisions by setting up a myriad of reviews, inquiries, working groups and whatever else they called their policy-formation-while-in-government devices. Some of these are supposed to address issues that they had claimed were urgent, like housing shortages, homelessness, poverty, mental health, health generally.

They have to be seen to taking semi-urgent action (belated) on a number of things.

Peter Wilson reviews what they have done this year in Year in NZ politics: Promises, scandals, progress (RNZ).

The government began 2018 with a largely inexperienced Cabinet and an ambitious First 100 Days programmeto implement. Parliament and the Beehive were frantic places but it pushed the legislation through.

National’s tax cuts were scrapped and in their place the Families Package was rolled out. Winter energy subsidies for pensioners came in and the billion-dollar-a-year regional development fund was signed off.

During the year the year the government set up its tax working group after promising there would be no changes during its first term in office.

Another flagship policy was introduced, making the first year of tertiary education free. At the beginning of this year, it hadn’t made much difference to enrolments and the government said it would take time to become effective.

Foreigners were banned from buying existing homes, the sale of state houses ended and the Pike River Recovery Agency was set up to supervise re-entry to the mine.

Ms Ardern took personal responsibility for reducing child poverty and holds the Cabinet portfolio.

The promise of KiwiBuild – 100,000 affordable homes in 10 years – began to deliver, but only just. It’s the one flagship policy that could damage the government, and evidence of success is so far elusive.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson presented a cautious Budget in May with an emphasis on rebuilding public services.

With the economy running well and the tax take up he was able to forecast strong surpluses which can be harvested in the next election year.

A healthy and improving economy, and the prudence of Minister of Finance Grant Robertson, have set this Government up for their second year in power.

The government can head into 2019 confident of its stability, but there are some big challenges in the New Year.

It has set up numerous reviews and inquiries into vital issues including health, justice and mental health. The rubber hits the road when those reports come in and ministers have to decide what to actually do about them.

This is, by its own claim, a transformational government. The status quo or minor tweaking won’t do.

It is not a transformational government, yet. Most tweaks so far have been relatively minor.

Prime Minister Ardern (in particular) and her Government talked a lot of talk about what they might do and what urgently needed doing in 2018.

2019 is the year they need to walk the walk, or they could stumble in election year in 2020.

It will probably take until May, budget month, to see how bold and how transformational the Government really wants to be.

And the future of this Government could depend a lot on what comes out of the tax working group. This won’t be easy because it was hobbled before it started looking into possible tax reforms, with some transformational options ruled out by Ardern and Labour.

Ardern has been given an easy ride by journalists so far, even to the extent that some fawn over her, but they need to put aside liking the Prime Minister and her baby and looking seriously into whether Ardern and her Government are going to live up to their PR hype.

That needs to happen in 2019.


  1. Blazer

     /  December 29, 2018

    done more in 1 year than National dids in..9.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  December 29, 2018

      Well yes, I don’t recall National acting as a land agent for rich young couples or shutting down the oil industry.

      • Blazer

         /  December 29, 2018

        National pandered to the rich…set NZ up as a tax haven for a handful of ‘mates’.
        Sold off state housing cheap to a few ‘mates’…handed out corporate welfare like confetti,ran dedicated black ops,introduced mass surveillance of NZ citizens,oppressed the benficiaries(as usual),neglected workers,ramped land inflation,borrowed billions,and kicked the can down the road on serious issues that need to be addressed.
        As for your oil dig…much ado about nothing,Mr Bridges let NZ down in his negotiations with big oil.
        Big Oil,Big Tobacco,Big business in general…Nationals donors all expect to be paid.
        ..not even going to mention Arab sheiks and Dr Jiang.

  2. David

     /  December 29, 2018

    Lets hope they continue doing very little given National left the settings pretty much as they found them after Clarkes term who kept to pretty much what Bolger and Shipley had put in place which was the finishing touches to what Douglas and Lange started.
    NZ is ranked tops in pretty much every international survey so Ardern has figured lets leave everything alone and get on with parenting and focus on a sibling for Neve.

  3. kluelis

     /  December 29, 2018

    Since 1984 National and Labour
    have become so similar that
    LabNat or NatLab are now in the words of Neil Diamond
    “Well except for the names
    And a few other changes
    If you talk about me
    The story is the same one”.

  4. Duker

     /  December 29, 2018

    “they need to put aside liking the Prime Minister and her baby ”

    This is bordering on fake news. The baby has deliberately been kept out of public sight ( only very brief photo appearance). remember the fuss about Mallard coming down hard on Neve being filmed around parliament.
    Compared to the shameless pushing of Bridges and his family and yes new baby in the Womens mags, where they were given photo exclusives ‘at home’

    • Gezza

       /  December 29, 2018

      I never read these mags these days. But exactly how many of these mags ran a “Bridges & family/new baby” items. I must say, though, that I think apart from making a grand statement showing off for the baby for US & international media at the UN, Jacinda is keeping their private family life pretty private & that’s a good thing. She’ll be well aware the minute Neve turns up in magazines they’ll be savaged for it.

      • PDB

         /  December 29, 2018

        The only ‘fake news’ appears to be what you wrote Duker (seems to be a habit you can’t kick)- comparing the massive Ardern family PR train to what the Bridges family can rustle up is just nonsense.

        Duker: “The baby has deliberately been kept out of public sight ( only very brief photo appearance).”

        Ardern’s face is on the cover of the NZ Xmas edition of the Aussie Women’s weekly proudly beaming out to all in NZ during December under the heading “Jacinda Ardern our new life with baby Neve”.

        • Blazer

           /  December 29, 2018

          are you forgetting Mr Bridges wasting over 100k on a meet the people limousine tour…

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 29, 2018

          There was a ‘looking forward to time with….’ article, and there’s a photo which is very obviously tarted up on the NZWW.

          It’s pointless trying to explain the difference between work as an MP and what Blazer thinks the money went on.

      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  December 29, 2018

        Look at then womans mag covers next time you are in the Supermarket Geeza……the last one I saw was an air brushed Jacinda and a caption mention first Xmas with Neve….

        • Gezza

           /  December 29, 2018

          If that’s the Australian Woman’s Weekly one, it’s been out for a month & I even posted a pic of it here somewhere. She’s not on every magazine cover.

  5. NOEL

     /  December 29, 2018

    Professor Patterson’s recommendations for the Veterans Support Act were tabled in Parliament in August and those that are minimal cost will know doubt be trumpeted just before ANZAC day next year.

    That example suggests that this lot is no different than any Government before it.

    Acceptance of minimal cost recommendations and procrastination until there is a suitable time for a photo op release.

    Forget 2019 its all going to come together in 2020 just in time for…….?

  6. PartisanZ

     /  December 29, 2018

    We are at a place where tweaking IS transformational …

    • PartisanZ

       /  December 29, 2018

      “They dared to tweak” …

      • Gezza

         /  December 29, 2018

        We’re at a place where twerking is normal & I’m looking forward to the next Pride parade to see all genders doing it.

      • Gezza

         /  December 29, 2018

        Tweaking can be transformational PZ, and it’s probably the best way to do it in a place like NZ where shocks to the system like Rogernomics and Ruthanasia produce too much disruption & fallout that nobody planned for – neither affected individuals or the government. NZ is a place which, when you look around at the rest of the world, is not running too badly and the few areas where change is needed or desirable can probably best be achieved by careful and methodical tweaking.

      • PartisanZ

         /  December 29, 2018

        They tweaked without corporate permission …

  1. Government needs to step up and walk their transformational hype in 2019 — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition