The vast ideological cloud that has permeated New Zealand politics and shrouded free speech for far too long has finally been punctured.
There is a great deal of detail for analysts, bureaucrats and the public to work through within the respective coalition agreements Chris Luxon has signed with Winston Peters and David Seymour.
But their net effect is at once radical and also conservative.
Luxon has had to put up with a great deal of sour bagging from members of the commentariat since the election – some with vested interests from their own prior tussles in the political arena.
But what was unveiled yesterday was worth the wait.
If this is the upshot of a Prime Minister applying skills in team-building learnt from his time as a top-performing CEO – then well and good. The politics will come later. But if the momentum can be achieved, there is a strong chance of success.
It is obvious Luxon gets to own the guts of the economic and social policy agenda that National took to the election.
His top-performing MPs have all been put into key portfolios which reflect their spokesmanships, buttressed with associate ministers from the minor parties in portfolios pivotal to the coalition’s agenda such as finance, agriculture and infrastructure.
He has also confronted head-on the national anxiety over co-governance, the emergence of a dual society and the ideology that has crept into education at the expense of ensuring our kids leave school with the competencies that will enable them to confront a challenging world.
Just talking about this would once have attracted allegations of racism and resulted in yet more attempts to drum professionals out of their jobs. But Luxon (and Peters and Seymour) are intent on change.
It is not without risk, as there will be opposition to rolling back changes the outgoing Labour Government imposed.
Luxon himself briefly mentioned ideology at the unveiling of the coalition. Expect to hear more of this word as he differentiates the coalition’s pragmatic approach from that of Labour.
The bits of National’s agenda that haven’t endured – like lifting the foreign buyers’ ban on house sales over $2 million – are a benefit in disguise.
It was always a sop to the real estate industry. While it would have raised coin for Nicola Willis’ tax cuts through the imposition of a 15 per cent stamp duty, it would also have pushed up house prices in Auckland as cashed-up overseas buyers took advantage of New Zealand’s weak currency and ploughed in.
It would not have been a great debut for a Minister of Finance to face angst from younger cash-squeezed Aucklanders seeking to get on to the property ladder in a rising market.
Don’t believe me? Look at what happened when foreign buyers last piled in, enticed by real estate industry advertisements to invest here – with no capital gains tax. No stamp duties. No care.
It is also radical in that Willis will not only be Minister of Finance but will also have her hands wrapped around the public service, where she will impose a 6.5 per cent cost cut across the board. The CEOs will implement themselves and take forward the social investment programme initiated by Sir Bill English, her predecessor in the portfolio.
This will require a major rethink at the Treasury, which has been focused on “wellbeing” when the new Government wants outcomes that will pare back costs and spur growth.
The governing arrangements are conservative in that the effect of the agreements is to wipe co-governance models from the delivery of public services, and ensure government contracts are awarded based on value, without racial discrimination.
Within six months of taking office, there will be a Cabinet Office circular to all central government organisations which, it is the Government’s expectation, will ensure public services should be prioritised on the basis of need, not race.
There’s more besides, including the introduction of a Treaty Principles Bill.
The focus on crime is long overdue, as is more attention to social cohesion.
Maybe now a Government can finally get down to the business of making the economy sing.