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.

Labour issuing ‘cease and desist’ notices to members

An identified Labour Party member has claimed he has received cease and desist messages from the party, after two others at The Standard have anounced they won’t be commenting any more at least until…

…well into the New Year at least (perhaps when everthing has settled down)

And…

…at some future date (hopefully not too far away).

I shan’t be back for a wee while unless there is good reason

Here is a sequence of comments from ‘Peter’ (his identity is widely known and he gives his details) starting here.

A damned shame, but highly reflective of the state of affairs with the NZLP currently. I too know the identity of the person involved in this, and there will be future consequences no doubt. Will be interesting to see what happens for me, blogging under my own name, in the future.

Nah, it’s more that some MPs are spending a large amount of their time trawling through blogs, and Facebook etc, and then intimidating members based on what they say, particularly if it doesn’t agree with them. I don’t know if its an overt strategy or policy of NZ Council, but it’s certainly a policy of about 3-4 core MPs, and there may even be a a rogue one in there who can’t help themselves.

It’s not beyond fixing, but the methods to fix it might be quite challenging.

I have the evidence, as do others. It exists, and if the behaviour doesn’t stop, it may just come out.

Most people who’ve hung around the Labour Party know who I am. But for the record, my name is Peter Wilson, I was a former party member, LEC member, Otago University youth branch founder and president, Otago/Southland Labour regional council chairman for three years. I’ve chaired list conferences, fought on four campaign committees, including two as campaign manager in tough tory blue country. I have also worked in paid employment for a number of MPs, including the MP in question today.

You are free to believe whatever you like, that’s one of the privileges of living in a country that values religious freedom.

(this replaced an initial comment)

I pulled that last comment on reflection actually, I had already received cease and desist messages privately. I don’t have the time for a legal battle, and I know that the people involved might push it that far. There are other ways of handling it.

This is not a good look for Labour, the party seems to be seriously dysfunctional.