The ODT opines, there’s been a lack of progress from the government:
The Government seems intent on digging itself into a hole from which there may be no escape.
After nine years in Opposition, there were expectations change would happen quickly once New Zealand First went with Labour to form a coalition government, with support from the Greens.
However, that has not been the case. More than 100 working parties or inquiries have been established, some of them at least reporting back by the end of the year.
The latest one involves ‘‘fair pay agreements’’, seemingly code for collective bargaining agreements, to set industry standards.
Although the Government appears keen to talk to everyone possible about changes it wants to make, it seems Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods did not bother to consult her colleagues when it came to deciding to stop offshore oil and gas permits being allocated in New Zealand.
When the papers were finally released this week, it was discovered the Government was warned its plans for future oil and gas exploration could have a chilling effect on investment.
The papers said if the supply of natural gas was restricted, the likely price rise for consumers posed a significant risk to the security of energy supply and could have a detrimental impact on some regional economies.
Wasting multi-millions on working groups then failing to consult on a policy with such significant ramifications as this is the sign of a government both unprepared and ill-prepared.
The Government is hamstringing itself. There is a chance, and a real one, the Government will achieve nothing before the 2020 election if it does not start making progress on some key policies.
The only policy it has made real progress on is fee-free education for tertiary students, most of whom don’t need it and which hasn’t resulted in an increase in students.
Even KiwiBuild seems out of reach for Housing Minister Phil Twyford. Branding private housing developments as KiwiBuild will not solve the problem of building 10,000 houses a year. Within a few months, the Government will have been in office for 12 months. Recriminations which are bubbling under the surface now will become fully-fledged attacks on the core competency of ministers who should have hit the ground running when it became their time to serve.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can only hold the coalition together for so long if progress is not being made.
Planting one billion trees has not yet started, social policy is edging its way into the system, and the so-called housing crisis is not being addressed by Labour, which christened it such.
It is unrealistic to expect the Government to implement all its policies in the first 12 months, but some progress should be measurable by now. . .
What is measurable is a lack of business confidence, which is worsened by the prospect of a return to collective bargaining.
Employers say the fair pay agreements are a major cause of concern. BusinessNZ is part of the working group announced on Tuesday but employers say they are not supportive of a national award-type employment regime in New Zealand.
Under the proposal, employers and workers cannot negotiate their own conditions — unless they are above the fair pay rates. Although workers cannot strike for a fair pay agreement, they can strike to get their own rates above the fair pay agreement rate.
This is a return to the days of multi-employment contract agreements (Meca) which broke out separate pay agreements for workers living in high-cost areas, such as Auckland and Wellington.
This is a recipe for job insecurity, an increase in unemployment and business failure.
The craziness of continually forming working parties smacks of a Government ill-prepared to govern. Until Ms Ardern stepped into the position of leader, it did look as though National would win a fourth term. Perhaps Labour MPs had given up on the treasury benches and were going through the motions.
There’s no perhaps about that – they had and they were.
There have been missteps from some ministers, something not good enough from three-term MPs. The at-fault MPs are surely surviving because there is no-one with experience to replace them.
Labour, the major party of the coalition, needs to stop thinking about solutions and start enacting policies. Otherwise, a second term is starting to look out of reach.
Just eight months into government is very early to be talking about it being a one-termer.
But Labour, which spent most of its nine years in opposition wallowing directionless with most of its energy going on undermining its leaders, is unprepared and ill-prepared for government and it shows.
The fee-free policy is Labour’s, the other ones in which there has been any progress are New Zealand First’s money for good looking horses and the regional slush fund which Shane Jones admits is politically biased.
Shane Jones’ admission this morning that his Provincial Growth Fund is a political tool is backed up by new figures released this morning revealing Northland as the main recipient of taxpayers’ money, National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“The Provincial Growth Fund should really be renamed the Political Survival Fund after more than half the funding announced so far has gone to one region – one with less than 10 per cent of regional New Zealand’s population.
“MBIE information shows Northland has sought $54.6 million from the fund so far. Applications from all the other regions combined amounted to $240 million.
“Yet Northland projects have received funding up to $61 million – even more than they’ve asked for. While the rest of the regions have had to make do with $42.4 million combined, plus a $7.5 million grant to the Howard League covering the whole country, including Northland. . .
Northland’s got more than it asked for and the whole of the rest of the country has had to share two-thirds of that amount.
Yet even Northland hasn’t got what it really needs – a better road to and from the rest of the country.
Northlanders will be scratching their heads, wondering why some groups are getting all this attention, while the single most important investment for their region – the double lane highway from Wellsford to Whangarei has been scrapped in favour of Auckland’s light rail.
“Shanes Jones is being allowed to use public money for a thinly veiled political slush fund – but on the really big issues, such as advancing oil and gas production, there is no question that New Zealand First’s ‘provincial champion’ label is nothing more than wishful thinking.”
We need a government that’s prepared to govern for the whole country, not one whose major party is so ill-prepared it is mired in the quicksand of working groups and lets its minor partner get away with pork barrelling.