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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