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Barry Soper: This year will be toughest yet for rookie Govt

Barry Soper ,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 7:04AM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.


This year's going to be the toughest one yet for this rookie Government.

Last year Labour and the Greens were shell shocked. They were in a position they never expected to be, even though Labour's fortune's improved dramatically once the hysterical Jacindamania took hold.

The only one who wasn't in a state of shock was Winston Peters, who always knew what he was going to do and spent the year revelling in the discomfort of his old enemies on the opposite aside of the House who did their utmost to destroy the indestructible, cunning political cockroach.

The snap of Peters' fingers echoed around the Beehive - he got anything he wanted, from providing breeding funding for pretty racehorses to a billion dollar a year fund to pour into the forgotten provinces, which by the end of next year, they hope will see them looking kindly on New Zealand First when they trudge into the ballot boxes.

Labour spent the year appointing committees, setting up reviews and inquiries, essentially to tell them how conduct the business of government. This year the rubber will hit the road as the consultants cash up and report back. It's the year the Government can no longer stall, or delay making decisions.

The keenly awaited Taxation Working Group report's expected to be presented any day now but don't expect any steer on that from the Beehive this side of April and, even then, policy may be signalled but nothing significant will be enacted this side of the election.

The poacher turned gamekeeper report from National's former prime minister Jim Bolger on fair pay agreements is already on the desk of Iain Lees-Galloway, who's bound to make a better fist of reading it than he did with the once over lightly treatment he gave a particular immigration report last year.

The Bolger government did more than any other to break the back of the unions with its Employment Contracts Act. Now his working group looks set to seek a return to national awards with industry-wide agreements.

Sensing a business backlash, Jacinda Ardern moved to console business last August, assuring them there'd be no more than one or two agreements this electoral term - which is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, whipped along by born-again Bolger.

In May, Grant Robertson will deliver his first 'wellbeing Budget', which has many scratching their heads as to what it actually means. The Beehive argues the happiness of the community is more important than the simple measure of GDP.

The fact is, without economic growth, there will be no money to make anyone happy, Budgets are about balancing the books. Putting in place wellbeing targets means his Budget next year will be measured against them.

In an election year, that's a risky business and it's something the Beehive should now be well aware of with the KiwiBuild and billion tree targets looking like the rotating heads of open mouthed clowns waiting for a ping pong ball in a fairground.

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