As New Zealand First holds its election year convention in Auckland this weekend, political editor Audrey Young monitors progress on the party's Coalition agreement.
One of the most important items in New Zealand First's Coalition agreement with Labour has had funding approved but the party is constrained from bragging about it just yet.
The item, "an annual free health check for seniors including and eye check as part of the SuperGold card" was one of five items under the Health part of the agreement.
It was achieved in the 2020 Budget with funding to the tune of $198 million over four years ($12.9 million in the current year, and $61.66 million in three following years).
But it was not even the subject of a press statement because its delivery has not yet been negotiated with the healthcare agencies.
It went largely unnoticed in the Covid-centred Budget - although a Herald reporter who dug into the Treasury documents wrote about it at the time.
In a Weekend Herald stocktake of how much is left to do in the agreement nine weeks out from the election, we have marked the free health checks a "partial" achievement.
New Zealand First has achieved or partially achieved about 80 per cent of the commitments in the agreement which sealed the deal on the Coalition Government in 2017.
Work is still being undertaken on some of them, announcements are pending on some and relatively few appear to have had absolutely no progress.
Covid-19 has slowed down work on several items in health, including the move to progressively increase the age for free breast screening to 74.
Another measure delayed by Covid-19 sits under the Economy and was a commitment to "review the official measures for unemployment to ensure they accurately reflect the workforce of the 21st century".
That turned out to be the responsibility of Greens co-leader James Shaw, who became Minister of Statistics in the Greens' Confidence and Supply agreement with Labour.
A spokesman for Shaw said Statistics NZ drafted terms of reference for the review and initiated discussions with the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) as the preferred reviewer.
The ONS wanted to defer it because of Covid-19. Shaw, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and Finance Minister Grant Robertson agreed to defer the review indefinitely.
The other items for which no achievement has been made include: a select committee inquiry into biosecurity; investigating Kiwibank's capital base to position it as the Government's bank when the contract is next renewed; setting up a register of foreign-owned land and housing; health checks for all Year 9 students (although it is available under the policy that extended free doctor's visits to 14-year-olds); offering free driver training to all secondary students; establishing a housing commission; introduce a royalty on exports of bottled water; review the processes of Parliament; and hold a public inquiry to investigate the drivers of local government costs and its revenue base.
The party's most costly achievement was the Regional Development Fund, which is funded at $1 billion annually or $3 billion for the term.
New Zealand First conducted parallel negotiations with Labour and National but it is understood from National sources that its negotiators agreed only to explore such a fund, not to commit to it.
The report card
Almost 70 promises were made in the Coalition agreement between NZ First and Labour. This is how they've done on the NZ First commitments
Regional economic development
• A $1 billion per annum Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund, Yes, including:
• Significant investment in regional rail. Yes.
• Planting 100 million trees per year in a Billion Trees Planting Programme. Partial. Programme started but as of May 2020 only 149.4 million trees planted.
• Commissioning a feasibility study on the options for moving the Ports of Auckland, including giving Northport serious consideration. Yes.
• Other large-scale capital projects. Yes. A$12 billion NZ Upgrade programme and $3 billion Covid Response Infrastructure Fund.
• A commitment to relocate government functions into the regions. Yes. For example, Te Uru Rākau/Forestry NZ in Rotorua and Criminal Cases Review Commission in Hamilton.
• Re-establish the New Zealand Forestry Service, to be located in regional New Zealand. Yes.
• An increase to MPI Biosecurity NZ's resourcing. Yes.
• A Select Committee Inquiry into Biosecurity. No.
• Honour existing Crown Irrigation investment commitments. Yes.
• Recognise the potential for aquaculture in promoting regional economic growth. Yes.
• Examination of agricultural debt mediation as well as receivership fees and charges. Yes.
• Review and reform of the Reserve Bank Act. Yes. Phase one completed, phase two under way.
• Reform government procurement rules to give New Zealand companies greater access. Yes. They came into force in October 2019.
• Review the official measures for unemployment to ensure they accurately reflect the workforce of the 21st century. No.
• Progressively increase the minimum wage to $20 per hour by 2020, with the final increase to take effect in April 2021. Yes.
• Increase penalties for corporate fraud and tax evasion. Yes. For example there are new penalties up to $100,000 for multinationals which refuse to comply with IRD requests for information under 2018 Base Erosion Profit Sharing law.
• Investigate growing KiwiBank's capital base and capabilities so that it is positioned to become the Government's banker when that contract is next renewed. No.
• Strengthen the Overseas Investment Act. Yes. Sale of houses to foreign buyers restricted.
• Undertake a comprehensive register of foreign-owned land and housing. No. But work under way.
Research and development
• Work to increase Research & Development spending to 2 per cent of GDP over 10 years. Yes. $1 billion tax credit policy funded in Budget 2018, currently 1.3 per cent of GDP.
• Re-establish the Mental Health Commission. Yes.
• Annual Free Health Check for seniors including an eye check as part of the SuperGold Card. Partial. Funded in Budget 2020 but details of delivery yet to be negotiated with primary care organisations so not yet announced.
• Teen health checks for all Year 9 students. No. But covered by free doctor's visits for under-14s.
• Free doctors' visits for all under-14s. Yes. Took effect from December 2018.
• Progressively increase the age for free breast screening to 74. No. Progress delayed by priority for Covid-19 response.
• Develop a 30-year strategic plan for New Zealand education. Yes. Done as part of "Education Conversation" in 2018.
• Restore funding for gifted students. Yes. A $1.27 million package announced, February 2019.
• Pilot counsellors in primary schools. Announcement pending.
• Offer free driver training to all secondary students. No. Work ongoing.
• Restore funding for Computers in Homes. Partial. In July 2018 a $1 million contestable fund for training digital skills in home, but not full restoration.
• Restart the Te Kotahitanga teacher professional development initiative. Yes. Launched as Te Hurihanganui in June 2019.
• Re-examine the Defence procurement programme within the context of the 2016 Defence Capability Plan budget. Yes. Defence Capability Plan released June 2019.
Law and order
• Strive towards adding 1800 new Police officers over three years; and commit to a serious focus on combating organised crime and drugs. Yes. Reached target in November 2019.
• Investigate a volunteer rural constabulary programme. Yes. Investigated but rejected on grounds of concerns about powers of non-sworn civilians.
• Increase Community Law Centre funding. Yes. Funding increased in Budget 2018.
• Establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission. Yes. Established in Hamilton, headed by chief commissioner Colin Carruthers QC, began work July 1.
• Establish a Housing Commission. No. The Government has formed the Kainga Ora Crown agency to oversee housing, and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, neither of which is a commission.
• Increase funding for family violence networks, including Women's Refuge and Shakti. Yes. Increased in Budget 2018.
• Pilot the Youth Education, Training & Employment initiative and provide 800 extra places for the Limited Service Volunteer scheme — six-week motivational courses run by the Defence Force. Partial. Pilot superseded by other programmes such as Mana in Mahi but 800 extra places in LSV funded.
• Introduce programmes for long-term unemployed to improve work readiness such as 'Ready for Work'.
• Introduce a new generation SuperGold smartcard containing entitlements and concessions. Yes. New website and app lunched October 2019.
• National Superannuation eligibility to remain at 65. Yes.
• The Government's vehicle fleet, where practicable, to become emissions-free by 2025/26. Ongoing. Too soon to say.
• Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Yes. Zero Carbon Bill passed November 2019.
• If the Climate Commission determines that agriculture is to be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme, then upon entry, the free allocation to agriculture will be 95 per cent but with all revenues from this source recycled back into agriculture in order to encourage agricultural innovation, mitigation and additional planting of forestry. Ongoing work with plan to introduce agriculture to ETS in 2025.
• Significantly increase funding for the Department of Conservation. Yes.
• Establish a tyre stewardship fund. No. But pledge by Minister of Conservation to implement product stewardship scheme.
• Increase support for National Science Challenges, including for piloting alternatives to 1080. Yes. In February 2019, the Provincial Growth Fund funded $19.5 million to Predator Free 2050 for alternative eradication.
• Countering myrtle rust and kauri dieback. Yes. $13.75 million announced November 2018.
• No resource rentals for water in this term of Parliament. Yes.
• Introduce a royalty on exports of bottled water. No. Government advised by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that it would contravene trade agreements.
• Higher water quality standards for urban and rural using measurements which take into account seasonal differences. Partial. David Parker's Action for Health Waterway and Nanaia Mahuta's Three Waters review both advance water standards for the future.
• Work with Māori and other quota holders to resolve outstanding issues in the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill in a way that is satisfactory to both Labour and New Zealand First. No. Ongoing work but no resolution.
• No new Parliamentary building to proceed this term. Yes.
• Independent review of the integrity of electoral processes and enrolments. Maybe, if select committee inquiry into the 2017 general election equates to independent review.
• Review the processes of Parliament to reflect an MMP environment. No.
• Introduce and pass a "waka jumping" bill. Yes. Passed September 2018.
As per Labour's policy, pursue Labour and NZ First's shared priorities to:
• Ensure work visas issued reflect genuine skills shortages and cut down on low quality international education courses. Yes. Tightened criteria for work visas.
• Take serious action on migrant exploitation, particularly of international students. Yes.
• Commit to re-entry to Pike River. Yes.
• Build a museum to commemorate the Māori Battalion at Waitangi. Yes. It opened in February 2020.
• Hold a full-scale review into retail power pricing. Yes. Released October 2019.
• Allow a conscience vote for MPs on NZ First's Supplementary Order Paper to the End of Life Choice Bill, which provides for a referendum. Yes.
• Hold a public inquiry "a decade after Shand" to investigate the drivers of local government costs and its revenue base. No.
• Support New Zealand First's racing policy. Yes.
• Work towards a Free Trade Agreement with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union and initiate Closer Commonwealth Economic Relations. No.
• Record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led Government's sponsorship of UNSC2334. Yes.