The Government waiting game is poor

Traveller commented: “Jacinda and Winnie’s anti-capitalism, anti-migration, anti foreign investment frankly scares me”.

Parties needed to be given time to wait for results, and to negotiate governing arrangements, but continued delays can give a feeling of being strung along.

It is especially important that we have confidence in the incoming government to be responsible and sensible on economic matters – the financial and business worlds continue despite being under a caretaker government.

The lack of information given since the election a month ago, especially over the last two weeks, is poor from the parties involved.

Winston Peters claimed that negotiations were complete a week and a half ago, but it was obvious they continued up until he made his decision to go with Labour. and it appears that negotiations have continued since then.

And I suspect the policy agreements are being massaged for public consumption.

This isn’t a good start for a new government.

Claire Trevett: Paddles the cat the only bright spot in transparency

For almost three weeks now the confidentiality has continued – the two weeks of talks behind closed doors with barely an iota of information emerging and four days since NZ First leader Winston Peters cast his lot with Labour (and the Greens, although Peters has selective hearing when it comes to that word).

New Zealanders know precious little about what securing that support has cost Labour in terms of policies – and money.

We should be better informed by now.

Ardern has promised “meaningful, material change.” Change can be exciting but is can also be unnerving. She cannot forget almost half the country did not vote for that and will be nervous about what it entails.

Businesses are likely bracing themselves as talk abounds about increases to the minimum wage and fair pay agreements.

The Greens and NZ First voters also want to know whether the policies they voted for survived the negotiations – and if it is worth it.

Small amounts of drip fed policy concessions will be concerning some voters who had hoped for something different.

Ardern may consider the past three weeks of near silence a necessity. It is regrettable one and Ardern has been worryingly swift at becoming adept at it. It should not become a habit.

Here’s hoping Ardern’s Prime Ministership will be marked with a tad more transparency than it has begun with. She got away with it because she is Jacinda Ardern and people are giving her the benefit of trust. She campaigned on hope and change – voters should have been told a bit more about what that means in practice.

Leaving journalists out in the cold for so long is having an effect that will likely result in more scrutiny and less honeymoon for the incoming government, not a bad thing.

But the public are being poorly served here, it is not a good start.

The ongoing waiting game has been poor, and getting worse as it goes on.

The concerns may all wash away tomorrow when the Labour-NZ First and Labour-Green agreements are revealed.

But if there are signs of not getting full and open disclosure, or signs of trying to hide some plans, or signs trying to gloss over significant policy concessions, then the new government may have set themselves up for a tough start.

On immigration “Labour’s policy remains absolutely unchanged”

One notable point of difference between Labour and and NZ First was on immigration, especially how much to reduce immigrant numbers by.

Incoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has indicated very clearly in an interview on The Nation that “Labour’s policy remains absolutely unchanged”.

Lisa Owen: So part of that is also immigration numbers, the number of people coming into the country and demand. And you and your coalition partners are kind of at odds on that when you look at the policies. Winston Peters wants a considerably higher drop in numbers than you have specified, and the Green Party actually withdrew their policy around immigration at one point. So where’s the sweet spot? If Winston Peters wants 10,000 people a year – and we’ve got about 73,000 – and Labour were saying maybe cut it about 30,000, where is the sweet spot?

Jacinda Ardern: The sweet spot is acknowledging that we have pressure on our infrastructure. And I think, actually, that is common ground between all parties that will form this government because there is undoubtedly strain based on the fact that we have had a government that’s entire growth agenda has been based on population growth rather than focusing on making sure that we move to a productive economy.

Lisa Owen: But when your agreement comes about–

Jacinda Ardern: Our view is that it is about the settings. It is about making sure that we are meeting the skills gaps that we have – and we do have them in New Zealand – meeting those skills gaps by making sure that we are undertaking those work tests, by making sure that our export education industry isn’t exploiting people, and by making sure that people on temporary work visas aren’t exploited either. That’s the area we’re focused on, and there’s agreement there.

Lisa Owen: So when the deal comes out and we look at it, will there be a number? Will we look through those papers and there’s a number that you’ve agreed on?

Jacinda Ardern: You’ll see that Labour’s policy remains.

Lisa Owen: In terms of the numbers, not just the contest? Because you’ve always talked about quality of people coming in and raising the quality and skill level, but what about the number coming in? Will there be a number?

Jacinda Ardern: Labour’s policy remains absolutely unchanged. As a result of these negotiations, our policy remains.

Lisa Owen: So no shift in numbers, no shift towards Mr Peters’ 10,000? You’re exactly where you were prior to the election?

Jacinda Ardern: Labour’s policy remains in place.

Lisa Owen: And the numbers of immigrants coming in will be unchanged?

Jacinda Ardern: Will be the same.

Recent and current net immigration is just over 70,000 per year.

Policy comparisons from the campaign:

Labour:

  • Ensure that businesses are able to get genuinely skilled migrants when they need them. This will include introducing an Exceptional Skills Visa for highly skilled or talented people and introducing a KiwiBuild Visa for residential construction firms who train a local when they hire a worker from overseas.
  • Strengthen the Labour Market Test for work visas so they are not being used for jobs Kiwis can do, and make our skills shortage lists more regional so migrants coming in under them can only live and work in areas where there is a genuine skills shortage.
  • Require courses for international students to be high-quality, remove the ability to work for international students in low-level courses except where the work is approved as part of their study, and remove the ability to get a work visa without a job for those who have completed study below university level.
  • In total, these changes are estimated to reduce net migration by 20,000-30,000. Without these changes there would be up to 10,000 more houses needed and up to 20,000 more vehicles on our roads annually.

Details: http://www.labour.org.nz/immigration

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has confirmed she remains committed to their policy, likely to reduce net migration by 20,000 to 30,000 a year. The party says that will be achieved by cutting student visas for tertiary courses considered to be “low value” and susceptible to being used as a back door for immigration.

The party says it will also introduce a stricter labour market test, to ensure employers properly seek to hire Kiwis before recruiting from overseas, and require skilled migrants to stay and work in the region their visa was issued for.

Labour argues it is time to take “a breather” on immigration to allow the country to play catch-up on infrastructure, including roading and housing, and stop wages being kept low.

New Zealand First:

  • Make sure that Kiwi workers are at the front of the job queue.
  • Attract highly skilled migrants by reducing numbers to around 10,000 per annum.
  • Ensure that immigration policy is based on New Zealand’s interests and the main focus is on meeting critical skills gaps.
  • Ensure immigration under ‘family reunion’ is strictly controlled.
  • Increase the residency rules around NZ Superannuation from the current 10 years to 25 years.
  • Increase, the Permanent Residency qualification period from the current two-years.
  • Make sure effective measures are put in place to stop the exploitation of migrant workers with respect to wages, safety and work conditions. In Christchurch and elsewhere there is evidence of exploitation of migrant workers.
  • Develop strategies to encourage the regional dispersion of immigration to places other than Auckland and the main centres.
  • Substantially increase the minimum English requirement.

From http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/immigration

NZ First leader Winston Peters has vowed to drastically reduce net immigration well below what Labour wants, to a net migration level of around 10,000 a year. Unemployed Kiwis will be trained up to take jobs as the tap is turned down, Peters says, and the number of older immigrants limited, with more bonded to the regions.

His message to voters who want a big drop in immigration levels is that Labour can’t be trusted, given they had only recently called for sizeable cuts, and National will continue the “economic treason” of “mass immigration”.

Green:

  • Maintain a sustainable net immigration flow to limit the effects on the environment, society and culture
  • Make it easier for some family members of new migrants apply for residency

https://www.greens.org.nz/page/immigration-policy

On refugees:

  • Progressively increase New Zealand’s refugee quota to 4,000 people per year after six years, and properly fund asylum seeker and refugee services.
  • Establish a programme for church and community groups to sponsor an additional 1,000 refugees per year.
  • Create a new humanitarian visa for people displaced by climate change in the Pacific.

https://www.greens.org.nz/policy/fairer-society/welcoming-more-refugees

Proposed capping migration at 1 per cent of population growth, but later abandoned that policy, with leader James Shaw apologising for focusing on numbers, saying he was “mortified” at accusations by migrant groups that the Greens had pandered to anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Other source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11907957

 

Free to air sports another policy no-go

A New Zealand First policy and claimed bottom line of showing major sports events including All Black test free to air looks to be a non starter with the incoming government.

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell in January:  Billion Dollar Sport Spend Deserves Payback To Kiwis

Kiwis are forking out nearly a billion dollars annually to fund sport and recreation but can’t get any payback with free on-screen broadcasts of sport, says New Zealand First Sport and Recreation Spokesman Clayton Mitchell.

“In 2015 councils around the country spent $873 million on sport and recreation and taxpayers provided another $85 million to provide the best coaching and support our athletes required.

“But when our sports stars feature live on screen most Kiwis don’t see them because they do not subscribe to Sky.

“This is doubly unfair because Kiwi taxpayers support state television and then pay again to a private company for live sports broadcasts.

“To sort out this injustice, New Zealand First will ensure major domestic sporting fixtures, World Cup matches and Trans-Tasman grand finals with Kiwi teams and sports people, are back live on our screens in free-to-air broadcasts.

“All Kiwis should be able to see our sport stars when they compete,” Mr Mitchell says.

In March:  Free-to-air sport bill by Clayton Mitchell fails at first reading

Sports fans aren’t going to be able to watch major events live on free-to-air television, despite the best efforts of NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell drafted the member’s bill to amend the Broadcasting Act and on Wednesday night it came up for its first reading.

Parliament adjourned just before a vote was taken, but with National and Labour opposing it there’s no doubt about the outcome – it will be heavily defeated.

“This is important, it’s about treating all New Zealanders fairly and equally,” Mr Mitchell said when he kicked off the first reading debate.

Government MPs said the bill was “populist pandering”.

“Nothing is free, someone has to pay for it,” said Brett Hudson.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard said there was no way the bill could pass.

“No government is going to take $125 million a year off sport, that comes from broadcasting rights. The member’s heart is in the right place, it’s a pity his brain wasn’t engaged.”

June (NBR): NZ First MP says free-to-air sport will be an election issue.

It wasn’t.

Early this month: Free-to-air sport may be another ‘bottom line’ for Winston Peters

Newshub tonight showed footage of an old, unpublished interview in which the NZ First leader promised he would make significant sporting events free-to-air.

Speaking at the Karaka race horse sales in January this year, Peters told Newshub that “I’m not going to say we’re going to try and implement it – we will implement it”.

“Everybody that’s dealing with Winston Peters and NZFirst knows we intend, as in the past, to keep our word. So they should stop humbugging around. We don’t go making promises we don’t keep. We will deliver.”

NZ First policy: Broadcasting and ICT

  • Amend the Broadcasting Act to recognise sport as part of the New Zealand identity and to broadcast Games of National Significance live and on free-to-air television.

Today:  NZ First policy for free-to-air All Blacks tests a no-go under coalition agreement

Labour has ruled no-deal on the possibility of free-to-air All Blacks’ tests, or other major national sporting events.

NZ First leader Winston Peters earlier in the year said a law-change to provide free-to-air rugby would be the price of NZ First’s support in forming a government, though it’s one National is believed to have also refused to bend on.

Labour has moved to scotch any anticipation the policy might be written into the final agreement, following comments from NZ First sports and recreation spokesperson Clayton Mitchell that it was “still on the table”.

Mitchell said in the interview on Saturday it was discussed in coalition talks, and the prospect of Kiwis getting free-to-air access to significant sporting games was still on the table.

A spokesman for Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern has confirmed it was not in the agreement.

I had serious doubts whether this policy would survive common sense negotiations. I’d love more free-to-air sport but I don’t think the Government should be financing it.

Mixed messages coming out of the parties going into Government together.

Ardern has also said that Labour policy on immigration remains intact, meaning drastic reductions promised by Peters also look like not happening.

It was inevitable that some NZ First (and Green policies wouldn’t make the cut).

Details of the governing agreements will be released on Tuesday, but some are being leaked.

Kermadec sanctuary deal smack in Green face

It is being reported that the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, long championed by the Green Party and progressed by the National Government last term, has been put on the back burner in a deal between NZ First and Labour.

James Shaw will probably put on a brave face but this is a smack in Green faces.

Shaw had expressed confidence that Labour would represent Green interests in their negotiations with NZ First.

No party should underestimate Jacinda Ardern’s ability to be ruthless.

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

The 620,000 sq km Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, announced by John Key at the United Nations in 2015, was hailed around the world and passed its first reading in Parliament unopposed.

But fishing companies and iwi bodies filed legal action opposing it, saying the sanctuary would deny them fishing rights agreed in Treaty settlements.

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.

The Kermadec sanctuary was one of the dealbreakers that swung negotiations in Labour’s favour.

Had Greens known about this would they have been so willing to rubber stamp the Labour-NZ First coalition deal without knowing what was traded?

UPDATE: James Shaw responds on Q+A:

JAMES Yes, well, it’s certainly still on the table. Obviously, there’s still a lot of issues to work through. It is a complicated issue, but we are still committed to doing our best effort to making sure that it happens.

GREG This has obviously come out – Winston Peters’ relationship with the fisheries industry – is it in jeopardy? Let’s put it another way.

JAMES Is the relationship with the-?

GREG No, is the sanctuary in jeopardy?

JAMES No, I don’t think so. It is a complicated issue. We absolutely need to work alongside Maori in order to make sure that it happens, but I think that we are all committed to making sure that it does.

That really doesn’t say much apart from expressing a determination to make it happen, eventually.

A generational change?

The new Government is being described as one of the biggest changes in New Zealand politics for decades, a generational change.

It’s true that the last few governments have largely followed similar directions, and have been similarly aged leaders largely of the baby boomer generation.

There’s no doubt that Jacinda Ardern is a significant shift. At 37 she will be the youngest Prime Minister since the early days of New Zealand government. The influential Grant Robertson is a bit older at 46 but is also of a different generation to past governments. He was a staff apprentice in the Clark government. Deputy Kelvin Davis is a shade older at 50.

James Shaw is a fresh political face and at 44 also relatively young for a party leader. At 43 Marama Davidson is a similar age, and Julie Anne Genter is 37. All born in the seventies.

So that does look like a generational shift based on age.

Of course there’s a contrast in NZ First. Winston Peters is 72 and first stood for Parliament before some of the above were born. He’s an old school politician and a fan of Robert Muldoon. Ron Mark is 63, Shane Jones is 58, all baby boomers.

Of the top ranked NZ First MPs only Tracey Martin at 41 represents a generational shift. She may be an important link between NZ First and the new generation represented by Labour and the Greens.

Any new government means change. Peters should ensure older people are looked after, they are his generation and his core constituency, but the incoming government led by Jacinda Ardern does seem to indicate a probable generational change in New Zealand politics.

It could be a very interesting term, especially for older generation observers.

Congratulations to the incoming government

I had ambivalent feelings about who would get to form a government, it didn’t concern me one way or the other. There were reasonable arguments for both a Labour led and a National led government.

There is no doubt that it was a rapid rise and major success for the incoming Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. She successfully turned around what looked like a looming unprecedented disaster in July to a creditable election result in September and to forming the new Government now.

Ardern was a big contrast to the string of unsuccessful Labour leaders, and she quickly demonstrated impressive capabilities that have turned out to be good enough to now lead the country.

It is a huge challenge for Ardern, as it is for every new Prime Minister. Time will tell how well she manages her own party as well as working with two other parties, but she deserves a fair go from Parliament and from the media and the public.

This is also a success for Winston Peters and for NZ First, albeit with a significantly smaller mandate they were hoping for a few months ago.

No one in Parliament is more experienced than Peters, and his deputy Ron Mark and new recruit Shane Jones also have significant parliamentary experience, Jones in Cabinet in the Clark government.  Another likely minister, Tracey martin, has been in the NZ First party since it was formed in 1993 and has been an MP for 6 years.

So NZ First should be capable of doing the business in Government.

The Greens are much less experienced. James Shaw has been an MP just three years and co-leader for two. Losing Metiria Turei was a major blow, as well as losing two experienced MPs in the fallout in August. This possibly cut their support in half or worse, but regardless they are now in government.

Shaw looks capable of being a competent minister. So does party #3 Julie Anne Genter.

However their #2, Marama Davidson, is a relative rookie, having entered Parliament less than two years ago. She may find it challenging switching from her social activist role to being part of the political establishment with the responsibilities that go with that.

Any new Government, especially one that has been out of power for nine years (or never been in power as per the Greens), will have challenges adjusting to their new roles and significantly increased workloads.

It’s a completely different ball game than being in opposition. As all those before them they are untested at this level, but in the main at least are likely to step up and do at least a reasonable job.

Some of them have high ambitions, to transform the country, especially to deal with inequality. That won’t be easy in practice.

They start with an open slate. As with any government I will give them a fair go. There will no doubt be criticisms, but they deserve the country’s support.

I wish the incoming government well, and I hope they succeed in making New Zealand a better and more successful country for all of us.

 

Government by the numbers

Numbers known so far about the incoming Labour-NZ First-Green government.

Party vote (election 2017):

  • Labour 36.89%
  • NZ First 7.20%
  • Greens 6.27%
  • TOTAL 50.36%
    (National 44.45%)

This is the lowest level of lead party support since the first MMP election (and the first time the highest polling party hasn’t led the government):

  • 1996 National 33.87%
  • 1999 Labour 38.74%
  • 2002 Labour 41.26%
  • 2005 Labour 41.10%
  • 2008 National 44.93%
  • 2011 National 47.31%
  • 2014 National 47.04%
  • 2017 Labour 36.69%

Number of seats in Parliament:

  • Labour 46
  • NZ First 9
  • Greens 8
  • TOTAL 63
  • National 56
  • ACT 1

That’s the largest opposition party ever.

Any legislation (that isn’t a conscience vote) will need to get the support of all of Labour, NZ First and the Greens, or if the Greens don’t support it National will need to to get it passed.

Number of ministers (as announced so far):

  • NZ First 4 inside cabinet (.444 per seat)
  • Greens 3 outside cabinet (.375 per seat
  • TOTAL 7 (.412 per seat)

Using that overall proportion against their 46 seats that would be 19 ministerial positions for Labour, and a total of 26 ministers.

This is in line with the current number of ministers:

  • Inside Cabinet 20
  • Outside Cabinet 5
  • Support party ministers 2

There was 1 Under-Secretary last term (David Seymour). There will be two this term, one each from NZ First and Greens.

Ardern said yesterday “”We have tried to ensure that we have been as proportional as possible”. She seems to be close to the mark, depending on how many Labour ministers there are.

Ardern now needs to appoint ministers. That may be happening this afternoon.

 

Winston Peters’ announcement – Labour

THE ANNOUNCEMENT:


Going with Labour (presumably if Greens support the arrangement).

Peters says that the Greens aren’t his problem and he can’t give an an answer regarding them. He says that’s up to Labour.

So a lot now depends on what the Greens decide, unless it is a pre-arranged rubber stamp.

He says he has been offered the deputy prime ministership and other portfolios but not finance.

He says that the Prime Minister will announce polices and portfolios.

He says that NZ First has a coalition agreement with Labour, and Labour have a confidence and supply agreement with Greens. The latter hasn’t been officially confirmed yet.

He says that the majority of voters wanted the change that he intends to deliver – but that’s obviously unsubstantiated.

Peters said the decision was taken 15 minutes before he came over to make the announcement – it’s hard to believe that, but if it’s true it’s nuts that he didn’t know which way he would go until then, and makes a nonsense of his claims it was a consensus in the party. They can’t all have made the decision 15 minutes ago.

He says he didn’t advise Jacinda Ardern before making the announcement. Also hard to believe.

Bizarre comments when the Green decision was put to him. He says that Labour already have an agreement with the Greens.

Peters hasn’t told Ardern yet, and neither has he said anything to Bill English about his decision. They found out watching his media conference.


EARLIER:

It has sounded chaotic over the last hour or so at Parliament as an apparent leak or two and some scant evidence got journalists excited, and speculation spiked again.

It sounds like National wouldn’t give in to last minute demands and Labour has got the nod, with Greens ready to go to teleconference at 7 pm.

From Stuff Live:

Winston Peters is about to talk to his caucus – we are expecting a short meeting then he will come down from his office to talk to reporters.

Speculation is mounting that Winston Peters will time his announcement to coincide with the 6pm TV news bulletins.

Newshub are live streaming here.

Jacinda Ardern will be holding a press conference right after Peters’ announcement “either way,” in the words of her press sec.

FULL SPEECH: The moment Winston Peters reveals why he’s chosen Labour – and what he thinks of Jacinda Ardern

Winston Peters speech in the Beehive, where he announces the new NZ Government.

 

This can’t be right on Māori seats referendum

With nothing much else to do Lloyd burr has been trawling through NZ First and green policies and has come up with a sort of interesting 16 policies NZ First and the Greens disagree on

With some much spare time on his hands he should be expected to get things right, but  this one can’t be right.

2. Māori Seats

Greens – Entrench Māori Seats and oppose any referendum to remove them.

NZ First – Abolish Māori seats via a binding referendum.

I don’t know how you can have a policy to abolish something via a binding referendum. A referendum is usually intended to leave the decision to voters.

NZ First policy: Maori Affairs

MĀORI SEATS REFERENDUM

  • Māori don’t need the Māori seats. They don’t need tokenism. That is why we commit to a referendum of all electors to retain or abolish the Māori seats.

NZ First make it clear they don’t want the Maori seats, but have committed to a referendum of all electors to give them that choice.

It is arrogant for a 7% party to claim that Māori don’t need the Māori seats.

It can be argued (I do strongly) that it is questionable to allow a majority of every voter to make a decision that impacts on a relatively small minority

But NZ First don’t guarantee abolition, they commit to allowing the voters to decide.

An announcement about an announcement…

A short time ago Winston peters made an announcement that he will make an announcement about the NZ First decision on government tomorrow afternoon, Some time. Maybe.

But there will be more to do from there, the Greens won’t make their decision and announcement until they now what the NZ First decision is.

Winston’s full press release:

New Zealand First will be in a position tomorrow afternoon to make an announcement on the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.

New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters said he had spoken to the leaders of the National Party and the Labour Party today and, amongst other matters, advised them of that.

That announces very little.

Reports from Stuff  Live: Choosing a new government on what the greens will do from there:

From what I understand speaking to Green Party people off the record, that standing conference call with their members to ratify any deal won’t be tonight. In fact it can only happen after Peters makes his decision public tomorrow (and of course only if he decides to go with the left). Which means if he does go that way we could have an announcement from Peters in the afternoon but no confirmed government until the evening.

It’s also possible that Peters could send Labour a final agreement document before actually making a decision, and the Greens could get their Labour/Greens package ratified – all before Peters makes anything public. There are going to be a lot of moving parts tomorrow morning.

Green leader James Shaw says the party will not be holding its conference call, with its up to 155 delegates, tonight.

He said the decision not to go ahead with the call tonight was made mid-afternoon.

So it predated Winston Peters’ public statement that he would make an announcement on Thursday on the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.

I won’t be planning my Labour weekend around this, but a few MPs and Parliamentary workers may be busy.

UPDATE: another announcement, this one from Bill English:

National is holding a caucus meeting tomorrow at 11 am in Wellington to provide MPs with an update on coalition talks. A separate teleconference will then take place with the National party board.

We stress that we have had no indication of what decision New Zealand First will make.

We have no further comment at this stage.