For almost three weeks now the confidentiality has continued - the two weeks of talks behind closed doors with barely an iota of information emerging and four days since NZ First leader Winston Peters cast his lot with Labour (and the Greens, although Peters has selective hearing when it comes to that word).

New Zealanders know precious little about what securing that support has cost Labour in terms of policies - and money.

We know more about the Green Party side of things, largely because the email to delegates which set out the broad outline was leaked online. But we do not know what NZ First has or what Labour has had to drop.

Apparently the final details of that were still being negotiated over the weekend. And while Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has spoken in broad terms, detail is sparse.


Those asking have been treated rather as if they simply wanted to open their presents early and had to wait for Christmas Day.

Ardern either could or would not even say whether the outcomes of the deals were still within the creed of fiscal responsibility Labour committed to during the campaign to prove to voters it could be trusted with the books.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and thus far a little knowledge is all New Zealanders have been entrusted with - which has simple fed the uncertainty for those who fear they will be impacted.

For example, we know that immigration cuts are on the table but not the extent of that or who will be targeted. Ardern has also promised significant change in economic management - but not how that will happen.

The lack of information has resulted in stories such as that in the Sunday Star Times that the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary was one of the casualties of the negotiations and Labour had agreed with NZ First not to move on it the first term. That was denied by the Green Party leader James Shaw who said it was still on the agenda and Peters who said it was "crap."

The truth likely lies between the two - Labour will move on it when and if either Te Ohu Kaimoana agrees in negotiations with the Government on a way out, or the matter of fishing rights are settled by the courts.

Ardern has promised "meaningful, material change." Change can be exciting but is can also be unnerving. She cannot forget almost half the country did not vote for that and will be nervous about what it entails.

Businesses are likely bracing themselves as talk abounds about increases to the minimum wage and fair pay agreements.


The Greens and NZ First voters also want to know whether the policies they voted for survived the negotiations - and if it is worth it.

Ardern may consider the past three weeks of near silence a necessity. It is regrettable one and Ardern has been worryingly swift at becoming adept at it. It should not become a habit.

Here's hoping Ardern's Prime Ministership will be marked with a tad more transparency than it has begun with. She got away with it because she is Jacinda Ardern and people are giving her the benefit of trust. She campaigned on hope and change - voters should have been told a bit more about what that means in practice.

Thus far, the most transparency we've seen has come from Paddles the cat, who has been the only one to defy Ardern's orders and now has a Twitter account - an unauthorised one.

Some of what Ardern has told us about the deals

• "Most" of Labour's 100 Days plan remains. That includes a year's free tertiary education for 2018, , KiwiBuild and the 'families package' - boosts to Working for Families, a $60 weekly payment for parents of newborn babies and increases to paid parental leave. Ardern will not say what has had to be dropped or changed.

• Immigration will be cut, Ardern says Labour's policy remains in place (targeting students and low skilled workers).

• Labour will assign a Pike River Minister to look at re-entry into the mine.

• The minimum wage will go up from $15.75 to $16.50 from the start of 2018. It could go higher soon after that - the Greens want $18 an hour and NZ First $20 an hour. Last year, MBIE estimated an increase from $15.25 to $16.50 would restrict job growth by about 7000 jobs and cost the wider economy $257 million but give a pay rise to more than 200,000 workers.

• The Ministry of Primary Industries will be split up to re-create a Ministry of Forestry.

• The Green Party's deal includes reform of the welfare system, environmental measures as well as a referendum on personal use of marijuana.

• NZ First's agreement includes reform of Reserve Bank Act but unclear how extensive that will be.

• Foreigners will be banned from buying houses - but the mechanism to achieve it is unclear as is whether Labour would withdraw from the TPP if it could not be re-negotiated.

• Water taxes on farmers will likely be scrapped - but Ardern has indicated a different model for those using irrigation schemes and it is unclear if taxes on other commercial water users will remain. Government subsidies for irrigation will end.

• A Climate Commission has been agreed to by all three parties to monitor progress toward carbon neutrality by 2050 - but the mechanisms to achieve that are unclear as is whether agriculture will still be put into the Emissions Trading Scheme almost immediately.