When Roger Douglas was asked what mandate he had for the sweeping economic reforms of the Fourth Labour Government, he apparently pointed to a line in the Labour manifesto which said something like "remove unnecessary regulation".
Labour's 2020 manifesto was written in the shadow of a global pandemic with prevailing uncertainties over the health and economic effects. That is why, despite being bigger than most other parties', it was relatively small for Labour.
"It is often a creature of the time that it is created," says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
Any Budget bid this term had to fulfil one of three conditions, including whether it was a manifesto commitment. The other two related to whether it was in response to a cost pressure or was among a small pool of new initiatives.
"It is a meaningful document in that regard," he told the Weekend Herald.
"We are well advanced. We are thinking about it at each Budget... There's a few things we haven't got to yet but the vast bulk, probably 80 per cent of it, is at least under way if not finished."
Much of what the Government has done has been responding to events not anticipated before the election, such as the temporary cost of living measures to reduce the impact of soaring inflation on household budgets.
Some policies announced soon after the election were not in the manifesto, such as giving locals a veto via referendum to oppose Māori wards on councils; and legalising drug-checking services at festivals.
But some of the most contentious policies being rolled out - Fair Pay Agreements, for example - have a clear mandate. It has been Labour policy for two elections and because it won an outright majority in 2020, it has a mandate for every manifesto promise.
New Zealand First blocked it last term. Its leader, Winston Peters, has been complaining on social media that without his party as a "handbrake," Labour now has the power to do anything.
New Zealand is quickly turning into a country we no longer recognise.— Winston Peters (@winstonpeters) July 5, 2022
The Labour govt has had absolute power, with no handbrake, for the past 18 months and in that short time has implemented an unprecedented, calculated, and systematic paradigm shift of who we are as a nation.
"New Zealand is quickly turning into a country we no longer recognise," he tweeted. "The Labour govt has had absolute power, with no handbrake, for the past 18 months and in that short time has implemented an unprecedented, calculated, and systematic paradigm shift of who we are as a nation."
He was referring to various policies and programmes under the umbrella of "co-governance", a word which did not get any mention in Labour's manifesto.
It has become common to leave policy proposals for contentious reforms to straight after an election.
Labour promised to set up a Māori Health Authority before the election, but with no detail about its powers in the manifesto.
The same goes for the Three Waters reforms. There were no details before the election, not even the number of entities that would be created (four), let alone the governance structure which requires councils to form a regional co-governance group to oversee the board and strategic matters.
And the same goes for the income employment scheme that is currently being designed by ACC - a reference to Labour investigating such a scheme was in an FAQ three layers deep into the Revenue policy of the manifesto.
National finance spokeswoman Nicola Willis said the governance structure for Three Waters was a significant change and should have been debated before the election.
"People do see it as pretty significant. They see it as the beginning of something and by not having a fair mandate for it and clearly setting out the rationale for it during an election period, it heightens the sense of 'well, where's the democratic accountability?'"
That was driving people's concerns, Willis said.
"If this was all fine, why weren't you upfront about it during the election?"
Act leader David Seymour pointed to comments made recently by Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson when announcing the outlines of the proposed public media entity.
"I think if Jacinda Ardern had stood up in a public debate running into the election and said what Willie Jackson has subsequently said... for example his press release on the new media entity where he said we now have 'a different democracy', I think we might have got a different election result," Seymour said.
Robertson said that while co-governance was not mentioned in the manifesto, it was there as a manifestation of partnership.
"It's a way of delivering particular programmes and services," he said.
"The Te Ao Māori section of the manifesto committed to continuing on the partnership path with Māori and looks to take bolder steps to create the change we need to finally realise the promise of Te Tiriti - governance, rangatiratanga and equality for all.
"While those two words co-governance might not be there, there is a commitment to work with Māori in partnership to deliver programmes, and one manifestation of that is co-governance."
Robertson pointed to the fact that the National Party had supported co-governance of the Waikato River when it was last in power.
"It is a manifestation of the delivery of partnership and in some settings, it has been less controversial than others," Robertson said.
He did not necessarily expect to see co-governance as part of the next Labour manifesto.
"What you absolutely will expect to see in future manifestos is an ongoing commitment to the Treaty and a commitment to partnership."
Referring to the income insurance scheme, Robertson said that his expectation was that any scheme would be legislated for before the 2023 election but with a start date of 2024. That, however, was more in the interests of taking time to get it organised rather than in terms of needing a mandate.
"This is a big deal and probably the biggest change in the way we do social security in New Zealand since ACC was created itself," Robertson said.
It would affect every business and employee in New Zealand and therefore needed a huge amount of time to get organised.
The reason the Government had moved on it was that a few months after the 2020 election, Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions had written to it, asking it to work on it.
National opposes the income insurance scheme, believing it is a tax and would encourage the unemployed to spend long periods out of the workforce rather than looking for a new job.
At least there will be policy detail to campaign on in 2023.
LABOUR MANIFESTO CHECKLIST
• Reform the health system drawing on the health and disability system review. Yes. Implemented on July 1.
• Establish a Māori Health Authority. Yes. Implemented on July 1.
• Double the number of funded cochlear implant procedures to 160 each year. Yes: an extra $7.08 million annually for an extra 80 implants.
• Ensure every DHB has access to a portable paediatric retinal camera to address preventable blindness in premature infants. Yes: $7 million in Budget 2022 over three years.
• Establish a rheumatic fever register. Not yet.
• Increase Pharmac funding by $200 million. Yes. Well over. An extra $200 million over four years in Budget 2021 and an extra $191 million over two years in Budget 2022.
• Extra $200 million to reduce waiting lists. In progress: Taskforce established in May to come up with national plan by September.
• Add 20 mobile dental clinics to the 156 already operating for children. Not yet.
• Increasing maximum Work and Income grant for emergency oral heath from $300 to $1000. Yes: In Budget 2022.
• Establish Aged Care Commissioner as independent watchdog of the aged care sector. Yes. Carolyn Cooper began a five-year appointment in March.
• Expand the Mana Ake programme, giving Canterbury school children access to mental health professionals. Yes: Expanded in Budget 2022 to Northland, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and the West Coast.
• Provide free period products to schools.Yes. Schools have been able to opt into the scheme since June last year.
• Expand nurses in schools programme from 80,000 students (decile 1 to 5) to 240,000. In progress.
• Complete pay equity for DHB nurses and admin and clerical staff. Yes and No. Yes for DHB clerical and admin staff. The deal was ratified in May this year. The nurses' deal has hit quicksand.
• Consider the range of conditions ACC covers. In progress: A bill extending coverage to maternal childbirth injuries is before Parliament.
• Honour the result of the cannabis referendum. Yes: the vote to legalise the sale, use, possession and production of recreational cannabis was lost, 48.83 per cent in favour to 51.17 per cent against.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
• Replace decile system with Equity Index for schools from 2022 and for early learning services, estimated to cost $320 million over four years. Delayed: Funded in Budget 2022 to take effect from 2023. Design for early learning in progress.
• Expand the free healthy school lunches programme from 8,000 children to 200,000. Yes.
• Free access to all apprenticeships and a range of trades training for two more years. Yes. More than 400,000 have benefitted since first introduced.
• Significantly close pay gap for 17,000 teachers in education and care centres and their counterparts in schools and kindergartens - $600 million over four years is estimated cost. In progress.
• Reinstate the 100 per cent funding band for services that employ a fully qualified early learning workforce from January 1, 2021. Yes. Came into effect on January 1, 2021.
• Establish independent mechanism to receive and resolve complaints about learning. Not yet.
• Establish national curriculum centre within the Ministry of Education with initial focus on NZ history. Yes: Centre set up in Oct 2021 and NZ history to be taught from 2023.
• Establish a new regionally based Education Service Agency. Yes. Set up in October 2021.
• Review the tertiary education funding system. In progress. Completed for vocational education and training but not other parts of tertiary system.
• Lift tax on income over $180,000 from 33c to 39c. Yes: Came into effect April 2021.
• No new taxes. No. Changes to brightline test in March 2021 and tax deductibility rules to dampen house price inflation meant new taxation that had not been foreshadowed.
• Operating allowance for new spending of $2.6 billion across each of next four budgets. No. Much bigger, $6.5 billion in new operating spending in 2022, but includes two years of health spending in one year, but excluding climate change and cost of living items.
• Extend small business cashflow scheme for three years (loans up to $100,000). Yes.
• Keeping $12 billion in the Covid fund for essential spending only. Depends on definition of "keep" and "essential". Disestablished with $3.2 billion left by May.
• Allocate $42 billion over four years in infrastructure spending. Yes.
• Establish a Regional Strategic Partnership Fund of $200 million over four years. Yes: 12 projects worth $33.6 million approved so far, with another four in front of ministers.
• Three Waters restructuring of water management into council-owned entities with $710 million plan. In progress: Details of four entities and governance revealed after election. Bill is before select committee but Govt has committed about $3 billion to 67 councils to support the transition, including $44 million announced this week to give every council at least $350,000.
• Regulate merchant service fee so retailers keep more of their sales. Yes: Bill passed in May.
• Provide 30,000 digital training vouchers for $2500 of free training in digital technology: Yes. Funded in Budget 2021.
• Ask Commerce Commission to conduct market study on supermarkets. Yes. And report completed.
• Rural connectivity fund of $60 million to be set up. Yes. Allocated in Budget 2022.
• Investigate a social insurance income scheme. Yes: ACC is designing a scheme which, if approved, will begin in 2024.
• Continue Covid-19 leave support scheme to support anyone who has to self-isolate. Yes. But it ended on March 14 this year.
• Prioritise surveillance and testing to enable early detection and limit its spread. Yes: Early in pandemic but resistance and delays to introduce Rapid Antigen Tests.
• Build up contact tracing capability at local and national level. No. Successive reports were critical of contact tracing.
• Continue to ensure international arrivals are isolated until safe. Yes, until domestic infection rates made it redundant.
• Secure a safe and effective vaccine and have strong national immunisation programme. Yes: 95 per cent of eligible people are fully vaccinated.
• Repeal and replace the Resource Management Act 1991. In progress. Development and consultation on replacement bill, Natural and Built Environments Bill, has been extensive.
• Modernise the Unit Titles Act 2010. Yes. Bill of former National MP Nikki Kaye adopted and passed.
• Establish an earthquake-prone building remediation service to help apartments get safer sooner. Yes.
• Introduce a licensing regime and code of conduct for property managers. In progress: consultation concluded with bill to be introduced next year.
• Expand Ministry of Health's Healthy Homes Initiative from 11 DHBs to whole country to reduce childhood hospitalisations. Yes: Took effect from July 2022.
• Review and enhance the Tenancy Tribunal. Not yet.
• Continue with plan to deliver 8000 extra public houses between 2021 and 2024. In progress. Updates on Housing and Urban Development website.
• Continue with plan to deliver 18,000 public and transitional houses between 2018 and 2024. In progress. Updates as above.
• End reliance on motels as part of homelessness action plan. No. There were 1845 motel clients of MSD in Dec 2017, just after Labour took office; 8166 in Dec 2020; and 8250 in March 2022.
• Support first-home buyers with first-home grants, loans and Kiwibuild: In progress. Adjustments to Kiwibuild criteria announced this week.
• Reinstate training incentive allowance for beneficiaries estimated to cost $431 million over four years. Yes.
• Increase abatement thresholds from $90 a week for unemployed and $115 for sole parents, to allow $160 a week to be earned before benefits start reducing. Yes.
• Fund 40,000 more people on Flexi-wage and increase the subsidy from $3500 to $7500. Yes.
TE AO MAORI
• Establish a public holiday for Matariki, starting in 2022. Yes: First holiday was June 24.
• Find a solution for Ihumātao. Yes and No. Agreement in principle reached but stalled over details.
• Establish a $20 million fund to support the four remaining Māori boarding schools. Yes. Funded in Budget 2021.
• Resolve the issues around the Kermadecs. Not yet.
• Partner with Māori through MAIHI (Māori and Iwi Housing Innovation for Framework for Action) to support the implementation of the Homelessness Action Plan, repairing and maintaining homes, building papakainga and establishing the Iwi Māori pathway for progressive home ownership. In progress: $730 million over four years - $380 million from Budget 2021 and $350 million from Māori Infrastructure Fund - for housing projects including 1,000 new houses and 700 repairs.
JUSTICE/ POLICE/ CORRECTIONS
• Introduce hate speech law. Not yet.
• Repeal Three Strikes law. In progress: Bill has passed second reading.
• Reduce prison population by 30 per cent over 15 years. In progress. Prison population was 7,669 in March compared with 10,645 four years earlier.
• Ensure police and enforcement agencies have the power and resources to disrupt gangs and organised crime. In progress. Plans outlined this month include new search and seizure measures, firearms offence, and expanded cash sale ban on luxury goods.
• Pass a law to reduce the trauma of sexual violence victims in court. Yes: Sexual Violence Legislation Bill passed in December.
• Roll out Northland's Te Ara Oranga meth-harm pilot to other places, starting with East Coast and Bay of Plenty. In progress: First Bay of Plenty service opened in Murupara last month and will expand.
• Establish Alcohol and other Drug Treatment Court in Hawke's Bay. Not yet.
• Expand Māori Pathways prison rehab programme to women prisoners. In progress: $10.1 million over four years in Budget 2021 for Wahine Māori Pathways programme starting at Christchurch Women's Prison
• Review election financing rules: Yes. Changes planned before 2023 election. Plus wider review of electoral law under way.
CLIMATE CHANGE/ ENVIRONMENT/ENERGY
• Bring forward 100 per cent renewable electricity target from 2035 to 2030. Not yet.
• Ban building on new thermal baseload electricity. Not yet.
• Ban installation of new low and medium temperature coal-fired boilers. In progress, comes into effect in November.
• Fund regional councils $50 million to decarbonise bus fleet by 2035. In progress.
• Commit to second stage of pumped hydro at Lake Onslow. Not yet. Awaiting business case.
• Investigate regulatory or market barriers to uptake of solar electricity generation. Not yet.
• Set efficiency standards for new-to-New Zealand vehicles. Yes.
• Expand contestable fund for low emissions vehicle chargers. Yes.
• Increase funding of agricultural climate change research by $6 million a year. Yes. Way more. Agriculture Centre of Excellence got $338 million in Budget 2022.
• Ban conversion therapy. Yes: Law was passed in February.
• Review adoption and surrogacy policies with a view to removing discriminatory practices. Yes. Review of adoption underway by Ministry of Justice and surrogacy by the Law Commission.
• Allocate $4 million to existing Rainbow mental health services. Yes.
• Review Human Rights Act 1993 to ensure that discrimination on the grounds of gender identity, including trans people, is banned. In progress, consultation undertaken by Ministry of Justice and MSD.
• Strengthen the mandate and resourcing of public leadership for the disability community. Yes. A new Ministry for the Disabled was announced in May.
• Replace the Minimum Wage Exemption for disabled people with a wage supplement to ensure disabled people are paid at least the minimum wage. Not yet.
• Implement Fair Pay Agreements. In progress: Bill before select committee.
• Increase minimum wage to $20 an hour in 2021. Yes. And to $21.20 in 2022.
• Expand minimum sick leave from five days a year to 10. Yes. Took effect in July 2021.
• Extend Living Wage guarantees to Govt-funded workers in cleaning, catering and security. Yes. Directive sent to core public service agencies that new or renewed contracts from Dec 2021 to be paid at least living wage, $22.75 an hour.
• Roll out a national pest management plan to combat kauri dieback disease with an extra $32 million over five years. In progress: Takes effect in August.
• Prioritise spending on public transport, walking and cycling. In progress: Budget 2022 funded $350 million for "transport choices".
• Build light rail from Auckland centre to Mangere and airport following advice from Ministry of Transport. In progress. Tenders open on construction.