The Soap Box: When does Cabinet responsibility kick in?

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 14 September 2018, 5:59a.m.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters

At what point does collective Cabinet responsibility kick in?

That's not an easy one to answer when it comes to this Government and never has that been more so than with the highly controversial industrial legislation which has sent shivers through the country's boardrooms.

The main bone of contention for employers is locking them into multi-employer collective agreements, negotiated across industries. Jacinda Ardern's olive branch to business three weeks ago that the agreements would be limited to just two industries in the first term of Government hasn't allayed their fears.

And this aspect of the law cuts to the very heart of New Zealand First's support base, small employers in the provinces are most unhappy at the prospect. It could for example, see a company in Gore paying the same wages as one in Auckland.

But when the law was introduced into Parliament it had the signoff from Cabinet which is a coalition sense would ordinarily mean the deal's done and dusted.

This is Labour's signature policy, its trade union backers are insisting on having more power in the workplace but if you read between the lines there's still a lot of I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed in the small print.

The Prince of the Provinces, moneybags Shane Jones has never made any secret of his dislike for the new law. He has made it pretty clear it's not in its final form yet, even though it's back before Parliament the way it was originally written. Jones said, "let's just wait and see what has eventuated from the interplay between the coalition leaders."

His boss Winston Peters is, as usual, being slippery about the prospect of change saying the bill when it finally passes into law will have their support which falls short of saying he's happy with the way it stands at the moment.

And his boss Jacinda Ardern's come up with a new phrase to describe where it's at, like all legislation, it's going through she says an "iterative process," reminding us that "they work well together."

Now that process in these circumstances is a little difficult to define but in a literal sense it means it's "a process for calculating a desired result by means of a repeated cycle of operations."

Don't know about you, but on this one that would seem to mean they're going around in ever diminishing circles.

 

ON AIR: Leighton Smith Show

8:30a.m. - 12p.m.