A government's first 100 days have become something of a "phony war". It plunges into its programme of election promises to get all of them under way within the arbitrary deadline of 100 days and usually succeeds without much difficulty.

But if it imagines this is typical of the challenges a government must face it in for a surprise. When the new Government is doing no more than it promised at the election it can do no wrong. It has a mandate to do this much if no more.

It will need to do much more. It will quickly be confronted with problems and demands hardly contemplated before it came to office. It is only then that the public can get a good measure of the character and quality of the new people in charge.

Labour has done most of what it promised to do by tomorrow, 100 days after taking office. It has made the first year of tertiary education free, increased student allowances, introduced legislation to set new standards for rental homes, banned foreign buyers of existing houses, given pensioners a winter heating grant, extended paid parental leave, set up inquiries into mental health and the state care in a previous era, increased the minimum wage, adopted a child poverty reduction target, made cannabis legal for medical purposes and much else.


The new or improved benefits for students, pensioners and parents will become permanent for better or worse. Benefits once granted are extremely hard for a future government to remove.

So long as overall public spending remains within the capacity of the economy to pay for it with reasonable tax rates, the additional benefits should not cause this Government too much fiscal difficulty. Its real tests will come when it sets about some economic reform.

It has some drastic plans for the housing market which should see private rental housing taxed more heavily and regulated more rigorously to provide higher standards and more security for tenants.

If this causes many landlords to leave the market, prices may fall to more affordable levels but this could make the Government very unpopular with highly mortgaged young home owners whose equity disappears.

The Government's own house building programme could reduce prices further as it gathers pace.

But if the Government can hold its nerve, and the banking system can stand its exposure to falling house values, the economy should be improve. It should have less investment going in real estate and more going into productive activities.

This Government's other big contemplated reform is coming from the Green Party. The goal of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 includes some drastic reforms in agriculture, electricity generation, freight movement and urban transport that would need to start in the life of this Government. Some of those will place new costs on the economy and challenge market measures of efficiency.

And those are just the predictable challenges the Government faces. The unpredictable will be just as difficult and we can only wait to see whether it responds well. Its hard work is just beginning.