Armstrong rates Labour-NZ First Cabinet Ministers

John Armstrong has rated the first year performances of the Cabinet Ministers in the Labour-NZ First government (Greens are missed, presumably because their ministers are outside Cabinet).

Labour ministers:

  • JACINDA ARDERN, Prime Minister, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Child Poverty Reduction. Score: 9/10
    In short, Ardern is a class act. The public is entranced by her.
  • KELVIN DAVIS, Corrections, Maori Crown Relations, Tourism. Score: 2/10
    …has been a huge disappointment in Government.
  • GRANT ROBERTSON, Finance, Sport and Recreation. Score: 8/10
    As solid as the proverbial rock. Has done much to dispel Labour’s “spend, spend, spend” reputation
  • PHIL TWYFORD, Housing and Urban Development, Transport.  Score: 7/10
    And he may well get close enough to claim victory from the jaws of defeat.
  • MEGAN WOODS, Energy and Resources, Christchurch Regeneration, Research, Science and Innovation. Score: 6/10
    Smart and feisty, she is one to watch.
  • CHRIS HIPKINS, Education, State Services. Score: 6/10
    Walking a tightrope on teachers’ pay.
  • ANDREW LITTLE, Justice, Courts, Treaty Negotiations. Pike River Re-Entry.  Score: 8/10
    Little has flowered into being one of Labour’s ministerial stars.
  • CARMEL SEPULONI, Social Development, Disability Issues. Score: 5/10
    …it is taking a long time for anything to happen in her portfolio.
  • DAVID CLARK, Health. Score: 6.5/10
    …is not looking like ending up being a loser.
  • DAVID PARKER, Attorney General, Trade, Environment, Economic Development. Score: 7.5/10
    Labour’s wise owl. Not just smart, but street-smart to boot.
  • NANAIA MAHUTA, Māori Development, Local Government. Score: 5/10
    Pretty much invisible media-wise. But has quietly worked away…
  • STUART NASH, Police, Fisheries, Revenue. Score: 6/10
    Has hardly set the world alight. 
  • IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY, Workplace Relations, Immigration, ACC. Score: 5/10
    Prior to this week’s snafu over his decision to grant New Zealand residency to a Czech kick-boxer serving time for drug-smuggling, he had impressed as someone solid, careful and unflappable in portfolios…
  • JENNY SALESA, Building and Construction, Ethnic Communities. Score: 3/10
    Who? 
  • DAMIEN O’CONNOR, Agriculture, Biosecurity. Score: 7/10
    So far, his decisions seem to have been all the right ones.

NZ First ministers:

  • WINSTON PETERS, Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister, State Owned Enterprises, Racing. Score: 8.5/10
    Deserving of huge plaudits for refocusing New Zealand’s foreign policy…Deserving of equivalent-sized brickbat for his obvious, but yet-to-be explained, reluctance to admonish Russia…
  • TRACEY MARTIN, Children, Internal Affairs, Seniors. Score: 6/10
    Martin stumbled badly in her handling of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha…Far more important as far as her party is concerned is that the flow of bad-news stories seeping out of Oranga Tamariki…
  • RON MARK, Defence. Score: 6/10
    At long last, New Zealand has a defence minister who actually wanted the portfolio.
  • SHANE JONES, Regional Economic Development, Infrastructure. Score: 8/10
    …a Comedy of Errors or All’s Well Which Ends Well. On his current form, you have to lean towards the latter.

More details: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/john-armstrong-s-opinion-rating-ministers-in-labour-nz-first-cabinet

Labour 2018 conference after 1 year in Government

Labour is having their annual conference in Dunedin this weekend. In part they will be celebrating their first year in Government under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern. She will give a big speech tomorrow.

From their website:  Year That Was: 365 days in Government!

One whole year. And what a year it’s been.

We’ve certainly achieved a whole lot.

Right off the starting block, we were keen to get stuck in and make some real positive change for New Zealand.

They list a lot of their successes (and not surprisingly no failures). Ardern has something to say:

More from her tomorrow with her Leader’s Speech – New Zealand Labour Party Annual Conference 2018

Join Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern for her first ever Annual Conference speech as the Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. Celebrate this special occasion with us at the Dunedin Town Hall on Sunday 4 November at 1.30pm.

If I could I would have had a look (I’ve been to ACT and NZ First conferences in Dunedin in the past) but I have other commitments tomorrow.

Grading one year of government

After a year in charge here are some gradings of the parties in Government.

Labour: B-

There have been some wins, let’s be clear about that.but at some point the pain of those on the bottom must shame this Party into actually doing something, not just pretty words and symbolism.

Jacinda continues to be their strongest performer with Grant Robertson, Andrew Little, David Parker, Willie Jackson, Kiritapu Allan, Deborah Russell, Marja Lubeck, Tamiti Coffey, Damien O’Connor, Greg O’Connor and Michael Wood being star performers to date.

Lot’s of talking, very little walking at this stage.

NZ First: B+

…they’ve done enough to keep their voters happy. The weird thing about the NZ values was just laughable. If Jones can get the forestry side working from planting, to cutting to working the wood here to building with it, he will be one of the greatest economic architects NZ has ever produced.

Greens: C-

After the meltdown of the 2017 election, there have been some wins, of that there can be no doubt, while Chloe, Jan Logie and Julie Anne Genter continue to be their best performers…but unfortunately it’s the fuck ups that gain media attention.

The Greens have become a middle class vehicle for alienating woke identity politics…

The Greens have gone backwards every election for the last 3 elections, tone policing on Twitter (I’m not making that up, there really is a ‘tone policing’ call out) doesn’t seem the way forward.

That’s from Martyn Bradbury in One year of the new Government: The faded hope of a hollow promise – grading Labour, NZ First & Greens

Conclusion:

There have been small victories but essentially the neoliberal bureaucracy and Ministries rule this Government, not the other way around and unless Labour, NZ First and the Greens find a way to shame the Ministries into reform, the Wellington Elites will continue to run the agenda, not the representatives of the people.

So the revolution driven by the Auckland Left has not transpired, yet at least.

Another left wing view (David Cormack): The politics of doing jack-all

Government, it’s time to start dominating the story. This last quarter you did jack-all and went up in the polls anyway.

When you started you were a shambles. You were disorganised, you didn’t know what you were doing, you clearly hadn’t expected to be in government and you out-sourced all your actual governing to others.

Oh sure you have done some things, and you’re running a lot better now, but if the government was a movie, this last year felt less like an action packed resolution scene, and more like a long establishing shot. An establishing shot full of working groups.

So while the past 12 months has been marked by the Government slowly getting its act together …the next 12 months promise more. But with that promise comes risk, because there’s a lot of hype about this politics of kindness. And if people start to feel like they’re not getting what they voted for then you’ll burn through a lot of capital. And it’s debatable whether you’ve earned much capital to burn.

More from Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Verdicts on the Government’s first year

And an editorial from ODT: Labour’s satisfactory first year

The passing of the one-year mark by the coalition Government has provided opportunities to assess its performance. Generally, these reviews have been positive, and we agree with these opinions.

But, when all is said and done, the Government will flourish or flounder on economic conditions. If the lack of business confidence is reflected in employment and growth, if changed industrial laws affect competitiveness, if New Zealand becomes too expensive and less efficient as it is in danger of becoming then Labour will suffer.

Just as the strong United States economy has helped add a layer to President Donald Trump’s support, so Labour’s success will depend on the economy and on-going effects of Labour’s policies on people’s monetary wellbeing. So far so good. Labour and its coalition have navigated the first year satisfactorily.

And they are still in, which has exceeded some expectations. They have the opportunity to do a lot more over the next two years and live up to some of their promise and promises.

 

After a year how transformative has the Labour-led Government been?

Not much, yet.

The Labour-NZ First-Green government is now a year old. Thomas Coughlan at Newsroom asks whether the current Government is truly a government of change – One year on: Change worthy of its name?

Transformation is a word we hear a lot to describe this Government.

The Government’s speech from the throne promised a “government of transformation”, and followed that up in May with a Budget that Finance Minister Grant Robertson said was “the first steps in a plan for transformation”.

The second word we hear a lot is “transition”.

What they mean to say is “government of change”, which was Ardern’s wording in what became known as her reset speech, which she made in September.

All governments change things, and the world changes. The pertinent question here is whether Ardern and her government are living up to her hype.

The Government has finished just 18 KiwiBuild homes (although it has started construction on more), the waitlist for social housing has grown, and the $2.8 billion investment in fees-free tertiary education hasn’t changed enrolment numbers, although the University of Auckland has tumbled down global league tables.

As for climate change, apparently our “nuclear-free moment”, under the current Government, big dairy can still dial up a a $600 million M. Bovis bailout for a self-inflicted crisis, while the much-lauded Green Investment Fund gets just $100 million.

Nuclear-free moment? Pardon me, but I think I can smell the methane on your breath …

The problem for this Government is that it knows what change looks like and it’s afraid.

It knows that true change is ugly and real people get hurt.

People living under the big-change governments of the 1980s knew they were living in a time of massive change.

So, can Ardern be kind and transformative at the same time?

One year on, we’ve seen this Government’s definition of change.

With the exception of KiwiBuild, its flagship change policies signal change in direction without enacting specific policy.

Supporters say this means the change will be more lasting – and they’re probably right. Both the Child Poverty Reduction Bill and the Zero Carbon Bill have bipartisan support, meaning they will likely survive into the future. Likewise, the Wellbeing Framework has the potential to change how we look at the economy, although proof of that is many years away.

But, especially on the issue of climate change, its slowly-softly policy platform absolves the current Government from making any of the tough decisions necessary when implementing change.

It’s an unpalatable truth that change means picking losers as much as picking winners.

The question hanging over the Government now is whether there is time to implement what it calls a “just transition”, to a halcyon economy of low unemployment, high productivity, and fair incomes.

“Just transition” is essentially the oil and gas exploration ban writ large — big change, but slowly. But a just transition doesn’t need to be slow and there’s nothing just about waiting 30 years for house prices to stabilise.

Just transitions could mean using the power of the welfare state to cushion the pain of change, like the governments of the 1980s should have done.

There’s little room to be complacent. The window of opportunity is closing.

Change is the sword of Damocles hanging over all our governments. And while this Government thinks the lesson from the 1980s is that slow change is best, it would be wise to pay attention to the other lesson from that decade: governments are not the only agents of change and those who fail to act in time will often find their hand forced by events.

Governments are always forced by events to act. They need to manage forced change along with reforming or transformative change, if they can.

In their first year the Government has changed some things, but they have only talked about most changes they propose, and it’s still not clear what they are going to change this term as they await the outcome of their many working groups/inquiries etc.

Also from Newsroom – One year in: the fault lines ahead

The first anniversary has provided a chance for Ardern and her team to look back on their successes and failures so far – but what challenges lay in wait for them before the next election?

Here are some of the fault lines the Government may need to navigate if it is to hold onto power in 2020:

Waterfall of working groups

National’s gleeful mockery of the coalition’s working group fixation seemed a little insincere at the start, given the party was not averse to the odd policy review and panel during its first term.

However, there is a kernel of truth in that the Government is now waiting on the results of numerous inquiries into some critical policy areas, some of which will not report back until just before the next election, until it takes action.

As the reports and recommendations trickle in, the potential bill for implementing all that is asked for will slowly mount up.

Justice reform:

The Government’s plans to shake up the criminal justice system loom as perhaps its highest-risk, highest-reward reforms.

If Justice Minister Andrew Little and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis succeed, the prison population will be reduced by 30 percent within a decade, addressing what Bill English once called the “moral and fiscal failure” of prisons.

However, National’s cries of the coalition being “soft on crime” provide a taste of its likely campaign against any firm proposals for reform, as well as the outcry which may result from any crimes following law changes (no matter their merit on balance).

Tax reform:

Part of that proliferation of working groups, but worthy of mention in its own right, is the Government’s Tax Working Group – a political slow-burner that could divide the coalition right up to the next election.

Chaired by former finance minister Michael Cullen, it will present its final report on the future of New Zealand’s tax system next February.

However, the Government has committed to putting any recommendations from the group to the electorate in 2020, meaning any changes would not be implemented until at least April 2021.

The sticking point is the issue of a capital gains tax.

So at best this will be a plan for transformation put to voters at the next election.

Climate change

It’s one thing to call climate change the nuclear moment of our generation, it’s another to do something about it.

Climate Change Minister, and Green co-leader, James Shaw said the IPCC report was broadly in line with the Government’s direction on climate change. But talk, as they say, is cheap.

There have been some climate-related policy changes, including a ban on new oil and gas permits and the establishment of a $100 million green investment fund. Also in the wings are a Zero Carbon Bill, emissions trading scheme changes and the creation of a Climate Change Commission.

The biggest pressure on the Government is its own rhetoric. Those disappointed by the environmental record of Helen Clark’s Labour-led coalition will be looking to the Green Party to push the Government into taking stronger, tangible steps.

Ardern has talked big on climate change, but we are yet to see how her Government will transform things.

Also, not mentioned in the Newsroom article, is another issue that Ardern has staked her reputation on, child poverty. Her Government quickly increased some benefits, but there has not been much sign of a revolution on poverty yet.

The Government has another two years to prove to voters that they are capable of walking the walk and delivering meaningful transformation at the same time as they competently manage normal management and also dealing with things that are thrown at them.

Greens also have a lot at stake – they have talked about a green revolution for long enough. They have to deliver something significant to justify voters’ trust in them.

NZ First probably just need to deliver Winston Peters to the voting papers for the party to survive.

As a whole the Government has been far more talk (and working group) than walk.  They may end up sprinting to the next election hoping voters will pass them the baton for another term.