Term 1: do nothing. Term 2: Asset sales. Term 3?

As right-of-National supporters, the best we’ve gotten out of the the last 6 years is stability and tighter fiscal control.  Not that we should be ungrateful – under the dark shadow of the GFC and numerous earthquakes, it’s been good enough not to go backwards.

But there continues to be a feeling of opportunities missed.  Some of the evil social engineering care of Clark that needs undoing has remained sacrosanct.  And instead of being a National Party, National continue to gobble up Labour policy in a move to deny them oxygen.

Such is the price for pragmatism.  We vote for National because  at least it isn’t Labour.  Lovely.

So what can we expect for the 3rd term?

With his third-term Cabinet sworn in, Prime Minister John Key is gearing up for a push on housing, education and employment laws.

The official swearing-in ceremony at Government House yesterday saw some new faces take the place of some old ones, such as Judith Collins, once National’s most powerful woman, now relegated to the back benches while Paula Bennett shoots into Key’s Cabinet top five.

Key said it was always humbling to win an election, and with two terms behind him he was also realistic about the likelihood that mistakes would be made along the way.

The priorities now Cabinet was in place include housing, which has been targeted with a shakeup in portfolio responsibilities, including a high-powered team comprising Bill English, Bennett and Nick Smith charged with making housing more accessible.

Key said that would encompass everything from more social housing to more affordable homes for first-home buyers.

The other, more immediate priorities included responding to the Middle East crisis, education reform and employment legislation.

And unsaid, but implicit in housing affordability is to deal to the RMA.

Putting so much faith in Nick Smith will prove to be a strategic mistake. (bookmark this post).  He’s one of the ministers that is constantly in trouble for veering off the straight and narrow, and then can be relied on to react in ways that embarrass the Government, requiring censure and periods on the back benches for reform.   It’s happened too many times previously for it not to happen again.

Let’s hope English and Bennett can prop him up and not let him stuff it all up again.

Due to the changes on the drawing board, we’ll also see a lot more union action this term.  Education reform and Employment law are just going to feed directly into their existing campaigns.

The interesting thing will be to see if National has the backbone to stand up against well organised union opposition.


– Tracey Watkins, Stuff


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  • Well organized Union activity, theres an oxymoron for you, they couldn’t organize a party in a brewery. That said, I too have noticed a few extra stirrings of Union unrest in the news and around me. Might be interesting to see just how few of their members actually carehat the Unions think.

  • James Chan

    should’ve party voted act

  • Whitey

    I’m certainly interested to see how National will deal with the unions. I think a stealthy approach is likely.

    I agree with you about National. They lean a wee bit too far left for my liking, but stability and tighter fiscal control are excellent things and the Nats have done a good job so far under the circumstances.

    • peterwn

      There is no point picking a fight that you are either not going to win or ends up with a lingering stalemate. For example ‘bulk funding’ of school teachers’ salaries would not be readily introduced – far better to look for other means.

      • Whitey

        Very true. Tactics are everything.

  • sheppy

    I really hope as part of the housing focus that they deal with Auckland Councils wasteful ways as well as the excessive ticket clipping which seems to be their speciality

    • Ramsey

      There’s an argument that Auckland is too big and too important in relation to NZ to be governed by a simple local council.
      There should be a minister for Auckland with powers to override the Auckland council if said council continues its current stupidity, corruption and heavy-handed ways.

      • peterwn

        This would be rather like the Australian approach with several city-states each with vast hinterlands.

      • sheppy

        It amazes me that they have been allowed to get away with the shocking levels of debt, once interest rates start to rise to more normal levels things will quickly go wrong.
        I wonder how many businesses will call it a day due to never ending rates rises making it uneconomic to stay in business

        • Ramsey

          The problem is that right now no one can afford NOT to be in Auckland.
          Well, I’m sure a tiny % of the population could move out. But many can’t. I can’t – wouldn’t find an equivalent job anywhere else. Plus many of the amenities and businesses I have come to rely upon are based here and nowhere else in NZ.

          We’re trapped and the Auckland Council knows it. For every person who moves out, 5 are queuing up to take their place. It’s simply unfeasible for many people to live anywhere else. We are sitting ducks.

          • sheppy

            All very true and that is WHY National should force them to come into line and stop ripping everyone off just to build Len’s Wasteful Socialist Utopia.
            However I suspect it will get put into the too hard bucket

  • who’stoblame

    If Little wins Labour leadership expect to see a wave of union strikes.

  • Reason1

    Under MMP National must stay close to the center, there is no way to veer to the right. You only have to look to Labour/Greens to see where extreme policies take you. Rather than bemoaning National’s centrist position we should be applauding them for not falling into the trap of extremists. Well done John Key, he is VERY smart to steer the ship the way he is.

    • Euan Ross-Taylor

      Time for Act to get their act together and promise a more right of centre coalition partner. National will not move to the right now that they have found the fertile middle ground of NZ voters.

    • mike

      He understands MMP, that’s why he gifts Epson and oharu to act and UF. That’s also why he hasn’t ditched WFF or any of the other things that feed the middle class… You may not like it but he is working the system

  • johnnyB

    More Union action + support from Labour = more disgruntled public = more votes for National

    • Very true, but the approach Reagan took to the PATCO union in 81 is not a valid method either. Unions membership might only make up 18% of the paid workforce, but that’s 18% National doesn’t need voting Labour in 2017.

  • Make the unions collect their own dues directly from members rather than the employer being forced to do it. That will be a good starting point in combating unions. If overseas evidence is anything to go by half of the people wont pay their subs.

    • DavidW

      Brian, would you really want a shitstorm over unions rights of access to the workplace or having union thugs waiting to shake down employees at the factory gate when they leave for home on payday? I have seen enough deadbeat husbands waiting at the gate to rip into the wife’s pay packet, conspired to protect cash for the groceries with the wives and taken the women to medical treatment when hubby discovered there wasn’t enough cash to get totally wasted on to last me a fair time.
      Unfortunately there are still people who would not consider politely requesting an a/p, or who wouldn’t have the brainpower to sent a membership invoice so the lowest common denominator would rear its ugly head again.

      • Euan Ross-Taylor

        Are you really suggesting this as a good reason for forcing employers to collect unions membership fees?

      • KGB

        The Unions are, wether they like it or not, a business. They tax-payer should not be responsible for collecting their money. It’s offensive to me that a National Government collects the funds for the Unions to then pass on to Labour.

      • Hi DavidW. I would hazard a guess that north of 95% of workers are paid by bank deposit. There are no pay packets to be garnered at the factory gate any more. Any union action like that would alienate them from almost everyone. If the unions have value then people will voluntarily set up APs and so forth. If not, they wont. No offence, but your reasoning here is very last century.

  • 1st off – cripple the unions by asking them to comply with standard BaU practices everyone else has to…

    Make them collect their own membership fees directly from their own members instead of the cost and responsibility of that being on the employer.

    Secondly – ensure timely filing of annual accounts. 1 week late a friendly reminder. 2 weeks late a formal warning. 1 month late – deregister the tax-haven vehicle they’re using to siphon and funnel funds through.

    Complete transparency in a timely fashion will have them go apoplectic at having to not only feed themselves, but then also being responsible for all accurate accounting of all finances.

    They won’t like that one little bit… and hopefully, the militant unions will all go on strike and wave banners on nightly beat-up news articles – further demonstrating to all of NZ just how unsuitable Labour and cohorts are for a country in the 21st Century.

    • johnnyB

      We could add what their real BAU should be – looking after their workers (customers). which doesn’t include being an arm or funder of a political party or in the NZEI case opposing all government Policy regardless of its merits.

  • Slinkywhale

    Cicero allegedly said in 58 BC “the budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, less Rome become bankrupt, and the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence and prudence and frugality should be put into practice..”
    Apparently in 58 BC he also said “when a civil right invades a domain of the rights of all the people, then it becomes a special right of a special class.”
    Now there is debate as to whether he said these words and none of us were there. However they seem imminently wise words which might be of great help to today’s politicians.

    • BrutusIscariot
      • Slinkywhale

        The words ring true, I did make the comment “allegedly said” and yes they have been “doing the rounds”. I do like them regardless.

  • pdm

    Maybe the plan is for Smith to get stuck in, stuff up and then stand him down and replace him with Judith Collins to sort out the mess.

  • botti

    Has any journalist asked Key whether they plan on reversing the 2011 change to include real estate in the Investor 2 Category? It seems that this change made homes _less_ affordable?

    “Are there any strings attached to using property as my “acceptable investment”?

    Prior to July 2011, property was not accepted by Immigration New Zealand as an acceptable investment for the purpose of migrating to New Zealand. A change in policy came into effect on the 25th of July 2011, which recognised changes in the market drivers in the New Zealand housing market since the introduction of the original policy by allowing investors to invest in residential property in a way that benefits the country.

    In order to qualify as an acceptable investment, residential investment must satisfy the following requirements:

    1.The residential property must be in the form of new developments on either new or existing sites, and

    2.The residential property cannot include renovation or extension to existing developments, and

    3.The new developments must have been approved and gained any required consents by the relevant regulatory authorities (including local authorities), and

    4.The purpose of the residential property investments must be to make a commercial return on the open market, and

    5.Neither the family, relatives, nor anyone associated with the principal applicant, may reside in the development, and

    6.The costs associated with obtaining any regulatory approval (including any resource or building consents) are not part of the applicant’s acceptable investments.

    Simply put, you can invest in residential property to meet the acceptable investment criteria of your residency application as long as it is a new development, and the property is not acquired for your own use. Under the current policy, commercial properties, e.g. retail/office/industrial properties, are not acceptable investments for the purpose of investment migration.”


  • Vlad

    Term 3, deal seriously and systematically to the “under-class/victim” culture and issue in New Zealand.

    Use the investment/holistic approach that Paula Bennett started in the overall welfare area.

    Focus on a hand up rather than a handout.

    Give the children of the disadvantaged ambition and opportunity; break them free of the victim and handout mentality.

    Break the Teacher Unions’ pernicious insistence that they can do nothing; that children of poor families are useless, hopeless and trapped because they need more welfare.

    Measure and reward great teachers and good schools; experiment with charter partnerships.

    Celebrate apprenticeships and the excellent outcomes available to people who choose to go into trades and acquire marketable skills that allow them to become well-paid employees; sole trade operators or business entrepreneurs. Forget stupid memes like follow your dream, be a hiphop legend, play for the Warriors, hug a hoodie. It won’t happen.

    Make being a kiwi more important than being a part of some “disadvantaged” subset.

  • KGB

    Term 3.
    1. Review every state tenant annually.
    2. Place a ceiling on all tenancies, 2-3 years. Case by case exceptions.
    3. Fix Auckland.
    4. Lower the top end of WFF eligibility.
    5. Attach compulsory budget reviews to all WINZ emergency assistance.
    6. Remove Maori seats.
    7. Change list seat allocations to percentage of votes acquired.
    8. Reform RMA.
    9. Remove early voting & return to ‘on the day’ only.
    10. Offer incentives to move business from Auckland to the provinces.
    11. Remove voting rights from those living overseas for more than 3 years.
    12. Identify & target Child Poverty.
    13. Relocate longterm unemployed to areas with employment.
    14. Remove KDC.
    15. Audit all state funded agencies regularly.

    • Tony

      Ref No 10. Businesses already have huge incentives to move: land is cheaper, rates less expensive, available labour, transport less congested and excellent ports in the likes of Napier, New Plymouth, Nelson and the Mount.
      That businesses still wont move means that they are ripe to get beaten by smarter companies. They don’t need crorate welfare – they need someone with a brain.

  • CoNZervative

    Make Ron Mark Minister of Defence or Maori Development.

    • Travis Poulson

      Genuine question: did you miss the portfolio allocation announcement?

      • CoNZervative

        No, this is a prediction for Term 3 of the 51st Parliament. A prediction John key will strike an accord with NZF to secure the 2017 election.

        • Travis Poulson

          Next question: do you really think Key would move either Brownlee or Flavell to accommodate a NZ First MP? I don’t. Personally I don’t think there’s a snowballs chance in hell of that happening.

          Is this actually your prediction or a wish?

          • CoNZervative

            let’s wait and see Travis, its a long way off. But I predict JK will move to get closer to a Ron Mark NZF.

  • andrewo

    It’s clear that JK’s policy is to feed the electorate the medicine in small doses. This is good because NZ doesn’t need yet another political swerve in either direction.

    So don’t expect too much.

    > A rework of the RMA, which is likely already in draft form on someone’s laptop. Maybe some re-jigging of local government laws to block some of the lunacy we’re currently experiencing?

    > Further adjustments to the welfare rules to reinforce the gains we are already seeing, which include lower crime rates and lower teenage pregnancies.

    > Steady expansion of the Charter schools once we begin to see some of them performing well.

    > Some tactical changes to cut Labour off at the legs. Like addressing some of the issues relating to ‘poverty’ – maybe school meals. Ditto for the Greens: Some smart environment initiatives that don’t require Karl Marx to implement them.

  • Aucky

    JK won’t remove Nick Smith for two very good reasons. The Blue-Greens love him and he represents the interests of many Kiwis who love their environment without being hard Green, pro global warming or anti-progress. Many of us here in fact. Smith is also loved in Nelson – I have seen him in action twice at Nelson airport holding court in the cafe with his constituents rather than closeting himself in the Koru Lounge. Sure, he’s got his flaws but he’s passionate about his causes and a bloody good Kiwi.

  • Dumrse

    1. Reduce the cost of compliance to small business. Remove the burdon of the collection of Union dues from the employer. If the Union want fees, let them collect it.