Government supported in latest RM poll

The November Roy Morgan poll suggests a shift in support towards Labour and Greens since the election, but NZ First has slipped.

National are still slightly ahead of Labour, but have dropped.

  • National 40.5% (election 44.45%, October 46%)
  • Labour 39.5% (election 36.89%, October 31%)
  • Greens 10% (election 6.27%, October 11%)
  • NZ First 5% (election 7.2%, October 6.5%)
  • ACT 0.5% (election 0.5%, October 0.5%)
  • TOP 2% (election 2.44%, October 2%)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (election 1.18%, 1.5%)
  • Other 1% (election 1.07%, October 1.5%)

Labour+Greens are 49.5%, and Labour+NZ First+Greens are 54.5%, the highest

This is early days for the new Government but indications are that there is general support for it.

The October poll was taken not long after the September election and during coalition negotiations, which may explain it’s swings, especially for Labour.

A poll at this stage doesn’t mean a lot but is of some interest as it indicates that the Labour led government seems to be generally well supported.

Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your
party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by
telephone – both landline and mobile – with a NZ wide cross-section of 887 electors during
October 30 – November 12, 2017. Of all electors surveyed 2% (down 1.5%) didn’t name a party.


Summary: New PM Jacinda Ardern drives surge in New Zealand Government Confiden

Detail: Tableau PDF

Green horse trading bombed

A leaked Green email suggests an attempt at negotiating with Labour over some minor policies – and Martyn Bradbury is having a fit over it.

Stuff:  Horse trading between Labour and Greens to get NZ First’s ‘Waka Jumping’ bill across the line

Labour, NZ First and National have all decried a Green Party MP’s suggestion that horse trading could be used as a negotiating tactic to get a national “Parihaka Day”.

The Green Party is considering opposing NZ First’s “Waka Jumping” bill – a deal struck in coalition talks – unless Labour gives it a national “Parihaka Day”.

Green Party justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman, in an internal email obtained by Stuff, suggested some horse trading with Labour to acknowledge the fact the party has long opposed waka jumping legislation.

Ghahraman’s suggested her colleague Marama Davidson’s bill, which recognises the anniversary of the invasion of Parihaka by making it a National Day, be put on the table for Government support.

That’s an odd sort of policy trade.

Justice Minister Andrew Little, deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and National deputy leader Paula Bennett have all rallied against the idea of horse trading, saying its use is inappropriate when it comes to getting legislation through.

Little said he supported the idea of a day to commemorate the Māori land wars, but didn’t want to see a national “Parihaka Day” the subject of some “cheap horse trading exercise”.

The “Waka Jumping” bill has been drafted by Justice Minister Andrew Little and the email suggests he’s already agreed to some amendments.

Peters said he wasn’t aware of the conversations between Little and Ghahraman but NZ First didn’t horse trade.

“We don’t sell our principles, we don’t either half-way in or half-way out. If something is sound we’ll back it … but I think horse trading on matters of principle are thoroughly bad.”

Peters wouldn’t say if he supported the idea of a national “Parihaka Day” other than to say “if an idea’s got merit, it’s got merit on its own”.

Bennett said it was “disgraceful” for any political party to think they could horse trade on any matter.

“It should be seen on its merits, for what it is, for what value it adds to democracy and for the people of New Zealand, and not just something you can trade away for something else you see as important.”

Isn’t that what the post-election negotiations were all about? I thought deals and trade offs were a major part of politics.

In the email Ghahraman said Little had “unlawfully” shown her a “ministerial advice paper” about proposed waka jumping legislation but not the full text of the bill.

In response Little said Ghahraman had likely misunderstood his “dry sense of humour” and he was making a joke that he was possibly breaking “Cabinet protocol”.

“I made a flippant remark … it was the advice paper as a precursor to the paper that goes to the Cabinet, which is ultimately the basis of the legislation. No unlawful activity was entered into.”

A spokesperson for the Green Party said this was an “internal document that was sent in error”.

Seems like some inexperience from Ghahraman , and possibly also from Little.  It’s embarrassing that this has been made public.

Martyn Bradbury is seriously unimpressed:  How ill prepared are the Greens for Government? This ill prepared…

They want  to blackmail the Government into supporting an idea that stands on its own two feet? Wouldn’t that in fact dishonour the very values Parihaka Day is supposed to espouse?

Are they listening to what they are saying for Gods sake?

This leak means the idea is utterly dead. There’s no way Labour or NZ First could look like they have been blackmailed into supporting Parihaka Day when they would have likely supported it anyway.

I’ve had my concerns about the Greens for some time, this leak has been a cringeworthy exercise in seeing how right those concerns were.

It gets funny when Bradbury gets into Peters’ fiscal doom territory.

Why does Winston want this waka jumping legislation in place?

He wants it in place because he knows there is one hell of a global economic correction coming and he knows the first thing the right wing do when a crisis of that magnitude threatens their wealth is they buy who they need to protect that wealth.

Winston is inoculating his own Party from having MPs who can be bought by National when the economy hits the skids, that’s why he included it in the negotiations with Labour. With that law in place he knows he can hold his Party together when the worst hits. This is a stability measure that holds the new Government together, what the internal memo shows is that the Greens seems to have no fucking clue as to why Winston wants this law, and they don’t understand that passing it strengthens the stability of the Government they themselves are part of!

Some people have a bit to learn about being in and supporting a Government.

Bradbury seems to have forgotten how National handled an actual global economic correction – everything they do has to be bombed apparently.

Parliament’s seating plan

Here is the new seating plan in Parliament.


Interesting to see NZ First to the left of Labour – this allows Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to sit beside Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, while remaining opposite Leader of the Opposition, Bill English.

The Greens are to Labour’s right amongst Labour back benchers.

Labour has nine on their front bench, compared to National’s thirteen.

Duncan Webb, new Labour MP for Christchurch Central, has been plonked on his own on the National side behind their bank benchers.

52nd Parliament opens this week

New Zealand’s 52nd Parliament opens this week, with the Commission Opening of Parliament on Tuesday (MPs sworn in and Speaker appointed), and the State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday.

Coloured outlines of people with text

The Opening of Parliament consists of three key events. The Commission Opening of Parliament begins at 11am on Tuesday 7 November. This is when Parliament is formally opened by three Commissioners representing the Governor-General. Each MP is sworn in by the Clerk, and the Speaker of the House is elected. Then the Confirmation of the Speaker takes place at Government House.

The State Opening of Parliament begins at 10.30am on Wednesday 8 November. This is when the Governor-General gives the Speech from the Throne, which outlines the Government’s legislative policy and plans for the next three years.

People with special roles take part in the ceremonies, which will be attended by dignitaries, MPs and their families.

Check out our Opening of Parliament section to find out more.

Don’t miss out on witnessing this historical event – put the Opening dates in your diary today.

Commission Opening of Parliament

Tuesday 7 November 2017, 11.00am

State Opening of Parliament

Wednesday 8 November 2017, 10.30am. (You can start watching from about 9.45am, when the dignitaries and special guests start arriving.)

View the State Opening Facebook event here.


The incoming Government, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has committed to a buy first 100 days – see Taking action in our first 100 days – New Zealand Labour Party.

To achieve this, according to 1 News, Parliament to sit until close to Christmas so Government can push through ‘first 100 days’ agenda

In an unusual move, Parliament will sit until a couple of days before Christmas, so the new coalition Government can pass legislation to push through its ‘first 100 days’ agenda.

There are also a number of reviews and inquiries that need to get underway if the February 3 deadline is to be met.

That includes an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care, establishing a tax working group and an independent climate commission.

“We have until February third to deliver on things like our policies around education and making sure we get more young people into training. But I am confident we can achieve those goals,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“Everything we’ve said in the first 100 days is an ambitious set of targets, an ambitious set of goals.”

The Government will need to hit the ground running, they will be need to be well organised and well coordinated between the three parties involved, Labour, NZ First and Greens.

Chief of Staff turnover

Change of government elections always bring about changes of personnel, and not just of MPs. Some Parliamentary staff no longer have jobs, and new ones are appointed.

John Key’s long time chief of staff Wayne Eagleson also worked for Bill English when he took over, but announced he was quitting after the election – NZH: Bill English’s chief of staff Wayne Eagleson quits

The man who’s often been referred to as the most powerful non-elected politician in the country is quitting.

Wayne Eagleson has been Sir John Key and Bill English’s chief of staff for 12 years, but says it’s time to look at other options.

Mr Eagleson will stay around until the new Government is formed, which is expected to be around mid-October.

Eagleson formally told Bill English last week he planned to resign after the election but insiders say it has been known by the Ninth Floor for several months that he planned to go, no matter what the election result.

It is a very demanding job, and of vital importance to the functioning of Government.

Helen Clark’s stalwart chief of staff is back helping Ardern : Helen Clark’s top advisor returns to Labour Party

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark’s top advisor, Heather Simpson, has returned to advise the new Labour Government.

Ms Simpson has a three-decade working relationship with Ms Clark, working as chief of staff to the Labour Party before spending eight years advising Ms Clark at the UN.

Her return is seen as a sign of Labour’s move to strengthen its management team behind the scenes.

She is assisting with the staffing of minister’s offices and ‘reviewing the review’ of the campaign.

She was known as H2 alongside H1 (Clark) – Grant Robertson has been refereed to as H3 when he worked in Clark’s office.

The Greens have also had a change:

Andrew Campbell is leaving New Zealand Rugby to take on the role of chief strategist. He was previously chief of staff for the Greens. He was involved during the campaign, before joining the negotiating team.

Greens announced in April last year:

Green Party Chief of Staff Andrew Campbell has announced his resignation from the position after five and a half years with the party.

Andrew Campbell has overseen the recruitment process for his replacement, and it is anticipated an appointment will be made within the coming weeks.

“Andrew indicated his intention to leave the Greens after the 2014 election, but offered to stay on to oversee the transition to our new male Co-leader James Shaw, and lead the internal change management process after James was elected,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“Andrew ran our communications through our two most successful election campaigns and has been a real asset to the Party,” said Mrs Turei.

Campbell seems to have been lured by the Green’s elevation to a position of power. NBR on 12 August (just after Turei resigned and Greens crashed in the polls – The man who could save the Greens:

I gave Mr Campbell a call at NZ Rugby, where he’s now working as a communications manager. In short forget a political comeback.

“I’m really enjoying my work here,” he said. He had no desire to return to politics, or indeed even comment on recent events.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the change of Chief of staff for NZ First – that warrants a separate post. See Johansson appointed NZ First chief of staff


“Full employment”

Labour campaigned on “full employment”, but it was sometimes not quite full.

On 4 July this year Labour’;s then spokesperson for finance, Grant Robertson, said in a speech titled The Future of Work and Labour’s Economic Vision:

Just to refresh. The Labour Party believes in full employment- anyone who can work should be able to work. As Minister of Finance I will re-assert Labour’s historic mission of full employment. In the first term of government we will lower unemployment to 4%.

And we want all parts of the economic apparatus working towards that goal. That is why we will expand the objectives of the Reserve Bank to include not just controlling inflation, but also maximising employment.

Interviewed on The Nation on 22 July (before she took over the leadership) Jacinda Ardern said that while 4% unemployment was their target she wanted to aim for “full employment”.

Owen: You raised jobs, so let’s go there. Labour’s aiming to get unemployment down from 5% to 4%. In real terms, how many jobs is that and how are you going to do it?

Ardern: Yeah, we are, and we’ve talked about some of the specific ideas that we’ve had. For instance—

Owen: Sorry, how many jobs will that be in real terms?

Ardern: Well, we’ve said we want to drop it down to 4% as a target. I can’t give you the specific number that that generates.

Owen: So about 25,000.

Ardern: We’ve set 4% as a target, but we are a party that believes in full employment. I want to make that point.

Owen: …we’re circling back round to the fact that your critics would say you’re not being that ambitious. We’re getting there anyway — 4.3%. You’re offering us 0.3%. Is that enough to motivate people to change, which is what you want them to do.

Ardern: And as I say, we’ve set some targets, but, actually, we are a party, as I say, is ambitious enough to say that, actually, what we want is full employment. We will never be satisfied as long we have anyone—

Owen: But that’s not the target you’ve set in the short term. The target you’ve set is this, which is so close to National’s, it could be National’s.

Ardern: We’ve set a target that allows us to make some projections around the kind of spending in investment in other areas. But, as I say, as much as we’ve got a number in this fiscal plan, our target is that as long as there is anyone who is unable to work because they cannot find employment, that isn’t supported, that doesn’t have the dignity of that work, we will not be satisfied. Yeah, we put a number on it. We believe in full employment. That’s bold.

A few days ago as Ardern was set to become Prime Minister, NBR:  Ardern says unemployment should be below 4%

Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand’s unemployment rate should be below 4%.

She says GDP is “barely growing” and unemployment is stuck at 5% but she says it should be below 4%.

Our unemployment actually dropped to 4.8% in the three months to June, the lowest it has been since the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008.

Lowering unemployment down further, especially below 4%, will be challenging, although it got as low as 3.7% in 2007.

‘Full employment’ implies virtually zero unemployment, something that is unlikely to be attained. All governments aim for as low unemployment as possible. Sometimes outside influences, like the GFC, work against that.

Pushing up minimum wages significantly may or may nor impact negatively on employment. Same for changes to the 90 day trial period legislation.

Shane Jones, incoming Minister for Regional Development, says he will push for more employment in the regions and has said that both a carrot and stick approaches will be needed. This has already met with union resistance.

NZH:  Unions slam ‘work-for-dole’ proposal

The newly-appointed Minister for Regional Economic Development said today he had been encouraged to look into the idea as part of the $1 billion extra funding to go to regional New Zealand.

Jones said it was not just about regional GDP or giving people who weren’t working the opportunity to find employment,

The Government was also promising to plant 100 million trees a year.

“As we plant indigenous trees I’m going to get my indigenous nephews off their nono and they’re going to go to work”.

First Union general secretary Robert Reid said the entire union movement was implacably opposed to the idea.

“It’s long-standing policy for the union movement right from when it was tried by the National Government in the 1990s.

“What we are in favour of is work-for-wages schemes for unemployed people, even on a temporary basis like the 1970s and ’80s schemes.”

Reid said this would give workers the dignity of working for a proper pay packet as opposed to the indignity of working for the dole.

Greens may resist the stick side of that, having “remove excessive sanctions” from the welfare system written in their agreement with Labour and having campaigned on effectively ‘no questions asked’ benefits that may make it difficult to push those people with entrenched habits of unemployment into work.

Everyone benefits from better wages and more employment, and less unemployment, but the last 4-5% may be difficult to deal with.


Kermadec Sanctuary uncertainty

Plans for a Kermadec Sanctuary may be on hold for this term, although uncertainty remains. Tracey Watkins in Below the Beltway:


Green Party co-leader James Shaw – No matter how much Labour and the Greens spin it, NZ First won the arm wrestling over the Kermadecs marine sanctuary. It won’t be happening during this term of Government.

Stuff: Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary put on ice by NZ First, catching Greens unaware

New Zealand’s biggest ocean sanctuary is dead in the water, in a Winston Peters deal that has blindsided the Greens.

NZ First, whose senior MPs are close to the fishing industry and whose campaign was partly bankrolled by players in the fishing industry, demanded Labour stop the sanctuary.

And it is understood Jacinda Ardern agreed a Labour-NZ First government would not progress legislation to establish the sanctuary in this three-year Parliamentary term. That will disappoint some of her MPs and supporters, but will win favour among her Maori MPs who argued it undermined iwi commercial fishing rights.

But Kermadec Sanctuary still on table, but iwi consultation key – Labour

A deep-water marine sanctuary off the Kermadec Islands could still go ahead, with Labour confirming it would work to establish the world’s largest marine reserve in a way that would satisfy both of its governing partners.

It appears an agreement has been reached between Labour, NZ First and the Greens individually that satisfies Green support for the protection of the Kermadec’s pristine waters, while assuring NZ First that iwi and commercial fishing rights will be taken into account.

Incoming prime minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the sanctuary played a role in coalition talks, but said, it was not dead in the water.

“Our intention is to work alongside Māori and use our best endeavours to achieve the Kermadec Sanctuary. We will be seeking consensus and agreement with our support parties to find a resolution,” she said.

That could be a difficult ask to achieve in a first term, with views on the sanctuary in stark opposition. The consultation process is likely to be careful and protracted, and legislation for the reserve’s creation could be some time away.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said he was happy with the plan for progression and held “high hopes” it would be before Parliament in the next three years.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, right, because there are a lot of complicated issues to work through. But we’re committed to working through those,” Shaw said.

“High hopes” sounds far from certain.

From the Labour-Green Confidence & Supply Agreement:

Safeguard the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems and promote abundant fisheries. Use best endeavours and work alongside Māori to establish the Kermadec/ Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary and look to establish a Taranaki blue whale sanctuary.

“Use best endeavours” sounds vague, especially alongside “look to establish”. These could mean nothing more than ‘we talked about it’.

From the Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement:

Work with Māori and other quota holders to resolve outstanding issues in the KermadecOcean Sanctuary Bill in a way that is satisfactory to both Labour and New Zealand First.

A press release from Trans Tasman: Kermadecs: Where Politics, Policies 
And Principles Collide

Environmentalists will be shaking their heads at how the political process has managed to derail the proposed Kermadec Marine Sanctuary.

As reported in Trans-Tasman’s sister publication, the NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert, the sanctuary was to be a major contributor to NZ’s international commitments to protect the marine environment. However, it is now hard to see how those commitments can be reached in the foreseeable future.

…the issue now highlights the sometimes conflicting policy and political priorities of the three different parties forming the new Govt. The Greens did believe the environmental positives of the sanctuary trumped the property rights of quota owners, while NZ First supports the fisheries sector. Labour supports the sanctuary in principle, but its large Maori caucus is mindful of the Treaty issues raised.

The body language of the players now involved is revealing, with Green co-leader James Shaw describing the issue as “complex.”

NZ First’s agreement says the two parties will “work with Maori and other quota holders to resolve outstanding issues in the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill in a way that is satisfactory to both Labour and NZ First.” Neither exude confidence the sanctuary will be created in this Parliament.

In many ways the Kermadec Sanctuary should be easy runs on the board towards NZ’s commitments to marine protection. If it can’t be sorted out, it does not bode well for more sanctuaries in areas with some economic exploitation, such as the subantarctic islands, let alone more heavily fished ocean.

The latest comment from Greens is this from Julie Anne Genter on Thursday: Kermadec Sanctuary likely to go ahead

Green MP Julie Anne Genter expects the Kermadec sanctuary to go ahead under the incoming Government.

Ms Genter said more consultation is key to getting a good deal for everyone.

“You don’t just go out there and bowl people over and put stuff up. That’s not a good way to run a country, you can get good environmental outcomes and make sure everyone is on board.”

That doesn’t sound like it will be a priority. Consultation takes time, even if all the parties are intent on making progress. It doubt that the sanctuary will be a priority.

The ‘largest party’ argument

Although The Standard has just lost stalwart author Anthony Robins they have gained another, Matthew Whitehead, who has previously commented there and has had the occasional guest post. While he is openly a Green supporter he will provide some good input at The Standard.

His first post is an intteresting Critiquing A Modest National Party Proposal

I’m going to be focusing on the suggestion, floating around National Party supporters on social media, that the largest party (“plurality winner” is the technical term for being largest without necessarily winning a majority) after an election should have some enshrined constitutional right at the first shot to form the government offered to them by the Governor General.

The obvious first thing to discuss here is that such an arrangement would favour National forming the government except in the most Labour-slanted circumstances, as right-wing votes tend to be much more concentrated towards the largest party when they feel like National is doing well, making them the most significant beneficiaries of the “come back to mother-ship” effect that both of the two largest parties benefited from this election.

Under the current mix of parties it may favour National but that situation may change. Obviously Labour were the biggest party when they were able to form the Government in 1999, 2002 and 2005.

Given that it is almost exclusively National supporters suggesting this change, we should probably fall back on the principle of electoral reform’s purpose not being to outright advantage any particular party, and count this as a strike against the idea.

That’s silly. Of course National supporters will be dwelling on why they lost power and the process that led to Winston peters decision to go with Labour, while Labour, NZ First and Green supporters are more likely to be rejoicing and looking forward to the new term. That’s not a good reason to “count this as a strike against the idea”.

…it’s simply a constraint on freedom of association for minor parties. It goes against democratic principles and constrains political speech to have our head of state direct coalition talks, and it rules out parallel talks which are simply more efficient and leave the country waiting less time.

It’s not necessarily restraining small parties from associating. It could be a simple guide to beginning negotiations.

It would have been useful for the Greens to officially rule out dealing with National up front in the recent process. But perhaps all parties should make it clear before the election what they would consider to properly inform voters.

It might not be a bad idea for parties to agree to some fair norms around coalition talks and Parliamentary reforms, but I think that’s a discussion that needs to be had on a more consensus basis between our four largest parties.

Why just between our four largest parties? That doesn’t sound very democratic. It should involve all parties in Parliament, any parties not in Parliament that wish to have a say, and the public.

If Greens had missed making the threshold I doubt that Whitehead would be suggesting “a more consensus basis between our three largest parties”.

Overall failing on every major point, this idea seems to be a non-starter, and is instead perhaps intended as just another front for National to attack MMP on, after it has tried and failed twice to defeat it at the ballot box- if they succeed in getting the measure through, they slow down and make coalition talks far less popular.

Questioning whether our current way of doing MMP could be improved is an important democratic process. Dissing it as “just another front for National to attack MMP” could be described as just another front to attack an idea Whitehead doesn’t favour.

They need to instead move on and accept that they can’t rely on strong plurality results to govern without eating up the electorate-based parties that support them, and perhaps even consider splitting into multiple parties themselves for more differentiated campaigning, as National has always been an informal coalition of urban right-wing liberals, right-wing conservatives, and a significant rural support base of many ideological flavours, and arguably could earn more of the Party vote under MMP by campaigning separately to each group.

But that might require them modernizing, an idea which is always deeply unpopular with the National Party, who still have no direct democratic impact on important decisions like electing leaders.

“An idea which is always deeply unpopular with the National Party” – that’s a ridiculous claim and hints at Green arrogance. It’s possible for parties to modernise without being just like the Greens. It would be alarming if parties didn’t modernise in their own ways.

A party in power for none years is always going to tend towards sticking to what succeeded, as long as it works.

I’m sure if Steven Joyce remains he will modernise his campaign strategies, but he is unlikely to favour a modern kamikaze attempt to outmanoeuvre their MoU partner party leading into the campaign, like Metiria Turei and the Greens did. They came close to not being one of the largest parties in Parliament.

Whitehead will no doubt be happy with the outcome of the election and how that came about. But the situation could be quite different after the next election, as it has been after each of our eight MMP elections. It could be the Greens that fall apart as a small party in Government.

Considering whether we can do our democracy better should be encouraged, not blown away because what is being suggested wouldn’t have suited your favoured party’s current situation.

We have just seen a situation where three parties stood back, allowing one small party dictate how negotiations would be conducted, and putting themselves in a position where they made the key decision and the key announcement.

Surely there is a better way of doing things, the public tends to not like tails calling the shots while the dogs cower.

We don’t need hard and fast rules, but if we had accepted guidelines (arrived at by consensus of course) for how post-election negotiations and decisions are made I think the public and the media would be happier with the process of forming a government.

Modest wins but big possibilities for the Greens

Compared to NZ First the Greens had modest wins on policy and ministerial positions, but they still have a big opportunity to achieve some of their goals.

Their ministerial appointments:

James Shaw

  • Minister for Climate Change
  • Minister of Statistics
  • Associate Minister of Finance

Dealing with climate change is Shaw’s big ambition and he now has a chance to do that, especially given similar ambitions of Labour (Jacinda Ardern has named it as the ‘nuclear issue’ of the current generation) and NZ First.

I don’t know whether he will have a major influence with Grant Robertson in Finance (they know each other well, having competed in the Wellington Central electorate for three elections now.

But it will be invaluable for a Green leader and MP to learn the realities of juggling needs, wants and not a bottomless pit of money, compared to the naive idealism of many Greens.

Julie Anne Genter

  • Minister for Women
  • Associate Minister of Health
  • Associate Minister of Transport

Learning the ropes as a Minister for Women will be useful experience, but Genter may make most impact as an Associate.

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has a huge workload (Housing and Urban Development) so Genter, recognised within the transportation industry as an expert, may contribute strongly.

And as Associate Minister of Health I presume she will take over the role Peter Dunne had dealing with drugs, both medicinal and recreational.

There is a promise to lift restrictions on medicinal cannabis almost immediately, plus a promise of a referendum on recreational cannabis. There is also support across Labour, NZ First and Greens to treat all drug problems as more of a health issue than a crime issue.

On these issues Genter may be a high profile and popular Associate Minister.

Eugenie Sage

  • Minister of Conservation
  • Minister for Land Information
  • Associate Minister for the Environment

Despite a low profile Sage is probably one of the more sensible and better respected Green MPs. She has a background in Forest & Bird and Environment Canterbury.

She will be working with Minister for the Environment David Parker, who has a very heavy workload with other portfolios, but also alongside another associate Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Jan Logie

  • Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues)

A relatively minor role but an important one. Sexual violences issues have been addressed a bit better than in the past but still neglected too much, with support organisations struggling for funding. Logie could make a real difference here, and if she does she will be applauded by many. She will need to take care she doesn’t alienate a demographic that she needs to have onside with her – men.

As stated these are fairly modest responsibilities compared to what NZ First MPs have, but they enable the Greens to address core issues they have been championing from Opposition for two decades.

If they do things well they could make a significant difference.  Perhaps their biggest challenge is transitioning from being advocates and activists and critics to very different roles as movers and shakers.

I hope they succeed in shaking things up and moving New Zealand society in a better direction.

New PM, Government to be sworn in today

Jacinda Ardern will be sworn in as Prime Minister today, along with the Ministers from the Labour, NZ First and Green parties who will make up the new government.

They have big plans, but the also have big challenges, as any government has – especially a government made up of parties who haven’t been in power for nine years, or in the case of the Greens, ever.

Of the 31 ministers and under-secretaries just Winston Peters, David Parker, Damien O’Connor and Shane Jones have previous ministerial, and along with Ron Mark, government experience.

Ardern has exceeded expectations and was been impressive in the way she stepped up at short notice to take over the Labour leadership less than three months ago and ran a creditable campaign. She successfully led Labour’s negotiations that set up the incoming government. And she has done a good job of making her ministerial appointments.

Now she has three years of harder work and challenges. We will have to wait and see if she is up to it.

The incoming ministers except perhaps Peters and Parker will all have bigger jobs and challenges than they have had before. There will no doubt be mixed performances and results but as with Ardern there’s no way of knowing in advance who will step up and who might stumble.

I’m comfortable with most of the policies that have been announced. The last government was moving in the direction of dealing with some, like housing, inequality, child ‘poverty’, climate change and transport, but the incoming government is more ambitious on all of those issues.

This is generally a good thing and I think generally supported by the public, so long as they don’t try too much too quickly. They will need be prepared for and able to deal with unintended consequences and unexpected events and surprises.

Something that never seems adequately dealt with is Health, which will be an important and difficult thing to deal with. There are ever-growing demands of an ageing population and growing costs of treatments and drugs. There are also unexpected increases in mental health issues to try to manage better.

One of the biggest challenges will be faced by soon to be Minister of Finance Grant Robertson. He takes over with the advantage of a reasonably healthy economy, but with ambitious plans he will have to manage the spending well, or he and the government could come unstuck.

A mini-budget may be required to kick things off, otherwise we may have to wait until next May to see how his management of competing demands and pressures is, but it might take until his second budget inn 2019 to get a proper indication of whether he has things under control adequately.

I’ll be waiting and observing before making judgement on Ardern’s and the Ministers’ performances individually, and also collectively.