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Government coy on specifics of new quarterly action plan

Thomas Coughlan,
Publish Date
Tue, 2 Jul 2024, 7:19am

Government coy on specifics of new quarterly action plan

Thomas Coughlan,
Publish Date
Tue, 2 Jul 2024, 7:19am

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon pledged to address law and order during the Government’s plan for the third quarter of this year, although he was often coy when asked about specific details of policies. 

Luxon published his Government’s plan for the third quarter on Monday. The plan covers the period from July to the end of September and included 40 “actions” across areas like the economy and climate change, but Luxon said law and order would be his priority. 

“The Government I lead is one of action and we are already making meaningful changes that will keep Kiwis safe in their homes, workplaces and communities,” Luxon said. The plan pledges the Government to giving police “tough powers to go after gangs by restricting their ability to associate and banning gang patches in public” and the power to “get guns out of the hands of criminals”. 

While plans for a Government’s first 100 days in office have become fairly common features of New Zealand politics, Luxon decided his Government would adopt a 100 day plan-style approach to its entire term of Government by publishing a plan each quarter of what “actions” the Government intends to tick off over the next three months. 

Other significant pledges include to publish New Zealand’s second Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), the first such plan published by this Government. ERPs are meant to set out how a Government meets its emissions budgets under the Zero Carbon Act. 

With the current Government’s record of repealing many of the last Government’s climate change policies, and the Emissions Trading Scheme being currently dysfunctional, all eyes are on the ERP to see how the Government plans to meet the climate goals it’s signed up to. 

“We can grow the economy and deliver on our emissions targets that we set ourselves,” Luxon said on Monday. 

The plan also promised to introduce legislation “to support time-of-use charging to reduce congestion”. Congestion charging has been on the agenda of this Government and the last as a method to reduce congestion by charging people to use inner-city roads at peak times. The last Government had plans to roll it out in Auckland. Luxon would not say whether the regime the Government introduced would mean other councils could also introduce congestion-pricing schemes. 

“I’m not going to get into that now... I’m just signalling to you the intention to get into that work over the coming quarter,” Luxon said. 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo / Mark MitchellPrime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

He also would not say whether any revenue raised from congestion charging would be ring-fenced for transport investment. 

Luxon said there was agreement from across the House, following a select committee inquiry last term, for congestion charging to be “not for raising revenue, but actually managing and directing congestion”. 

He would not give any detail about a pledge in the plan to take “Cabinet decisions on legislative amendments to clarify the employment status of contractors”. 

This relates to a hotly-contested employment issue around the status of many gig economy workers. Many of these workers and the unions that represent them argue they are employees and should be given the rights and protections of traditional employment contracts, while many gig economy firms argue they are contractors, a status that gives them fewer protections. 

A case between Uber drivers and Uber litigating this issue is currently before the Court of Appeal, with the Employment Court ruling in 2022 that the drivers were indeed employees and therefore entitled to the likes of sick leave, holiday pay and collective bargaining. 

The Prime Minister could not say whether he will wait for the outcome of that case before Cabinet decides on legislation, or whether it will legislate ahead of the court’s decision. 

“We know it’s an area that needs to be fixed and cleaned up and clarity needs to be in place,” Luxon said. 

“I’m just not going to get into what we may or may not do. What I’m just signalling, in the spirit of transparency, is this is what our Government will be focused on in the next 13 weeks and it’s important that we move that one forward and then we get more clarity emerging about the role of contractors,” Luxon said. 

One thing that might be progressing is the procurement of new RNZAF planes to replace their ailing Boeing 757s, one of which recently broke down, stranding a business delegation in Papua New Guinea. The Government had previously said replacing these plans would be looked at in the Defence Capability Plan, a report looking at what equipment the Defence Force will need in the future. That plan was due last month, but now might not be released until October. 

Luxon said he could “potentially” split the issue of replacing the 757s out of the report and handling it separately. 

He said given the change of leadership at both the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Defence, it was appropriate to rethink the capability plan and give the new team the opportunity to have “ownership” of it. 

Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018. 

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