The new Labour-led government’s top priorities now it is in power are likely to be education, housing, water quality and health.
Before the election, Labour set out its plan for its first 100 days in government, which includes free tertiary education, and banning overseas housing speculators.
The country was pulled out of limbo on Thursday evening, when NZ First leader Winston Peters announced he planned to give Labour his support. The 52nd government will be a Labour-NZ First coalition, with the Green Party holding a confidence and supply agreement with Labour.
This agreement needs to be made official on Thursday night following a special general meeting where the Green Party delegates would take a vote.
Also on Labour’s urgent list is legislation banning overseas housing speculators, by Christmas, implementing Labour’s family support package by July 1, an increase in the minimum wage to $16.50 and locking in the goal of zero carbon emissions.
Now that the waiting is over, Labour will need to get to work on implementing its campaign promises.
Ardern outlined the party’s plan for its first 100 days in power during a campaign rally in Wellington in September.
“Labour will take urgent action in its first 100 days in office to expand support for families and students, make rental homes warm and dry, find solutions to the mental health crisis and accelerate efforts to clean up our waterways,” Ardern said.
This plan may have altered following coalition negotiations, where the parties carried out five days of formal discussions and continued informal discussions for a week following that.
Those negotiations would have resulted in policy concessions to NZ First, and the country would likely have to wait a few days to find out exactly how policy would look under a Labour-NZ First coalition.
However, during his announcement on Thursday evening, Peters said NZ First’s decision to go with Labour was influenced by issues around equality, affordable housing, immigration, and a stable dollar and economy.
“Far too many New Zealanders were going without,” Peters said.
In the past, struggling Kiwis knew things would get better next year. That was no longer a guarantee and that needed to change, he said.
These issues were largely at the forefront of what Labour campaigned on. The two parties also have policy that aligns in the areas of immigration and housing.
Ardern said she was comfortable labour had focussed on the “end outcomes that Labour always wanted to achieve”.
Labour had stuck to the policies it had campaigned on, including water, housing and child poverty, she said.
Labour’s pre-election day 100-day plan in full:
- Make the first year of tertiary education or training fees free and increase student allowances and living cost loans by $50 a week from January 1, 2018
- Pass the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill
- Ban overseas speculators from buying existing residential properties
- Stop the sell-off of state houses
- Legislate to pass the Families Package, including the Winter Fuel Payment, Best Start and increases to Paid Parental Leave, to take effect from 1 July 2018. The families package replaces National’s April1 tax cuts
- Introduce legislation to set a child poverty reduction target
- Resume contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund
- Set up a ministerial inquiry on mental health
- Hold a Clean Waterways Summit of all key stakeholders
- Increase the minimum wage to $16.50/hour, to take effect April 1, 2018, and introduce legislation new industrial relations legislation
In order to get these policies off the ground, Ardern will need the help of competent ministers and experienced advisers.
So who will be in Labour’s kitchen cabinet?
The kitchen cabinet is an unofficial group within cabinet that makes important policy decisions. The term was coined by former prime minister John Key.
Labour’s kitchen cabinet will likely include Ardern, deputy leader Kelvin Davis, finance man Grant Robertson, senior MP David Parker, along with possibly former leader Andrew Little, Phil Twyford and Megan Woods.
The party will hold its election for Cabinet positions on Friday afternoon. NZ First will also have positions inside Cabinet.
Other MPs, would likely be brought in on certain issues in their areas of expertise.
As for other advisers, party president and Labour general secretary Nigel Harworth and Andrew Kirton will continue to work with Ardern and her MPs.
Rob Salmond, Labour’s numbers man will continue as the party’s backroom guru, and chief of staff Neale Jones will continue to be a core member of staff.
Strategic adviser Mike Munro, who worked with Helen Clark and had been helping Labour throughout negotiations could be brought on as a permanent staffer, and head press secretary Mike Jaspers will continue to get Labour’s message out to the public.
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