It's the beginning of the political new year. Politicians will have spent the summer telling everyone they weren't thinking about politics while talking with their politician friends about how they can improve on last year or take the leadership of the National Party. And given that everyone was arguably a bit crap last year there's room for a lot of improvement.
After spending its first year out-sourcing most of the major decisions to groups of experts better equipped to make recommendations than MPs, the Government is going to have to make some actual decisions. There's a lot of promises that people are expecting to be kept.
The politics of kindness that the Prime Minister wants to rule by is yet to trickle down to Government Departments. Work and Income seems to feature regularly in stories about people in need being turned away, or mistreated. Other public service agencies are using private investigators to spy on possible agitators, while MBIE admitted that its staff created fake social media profiles to collect intelligence on people. That's not being kind. That's being a heavy-handed police-state bunch of jerks.
The housing crisis continues to crisis along, though in Labour's defence, they are at least trying to do something. Which is more than it seems the National Government ever did. To start with, this Government admits it's a crisis.
The coalition will continue with its moves to push up the minimum wage, but at the first sign that this is causing businesses to reduce staff, or worse still, close, National will be at them with a big fat "I told you so". Same goes for the Government's approach to reducing the prison muster; it'll take one major piece of crime committed by someone out on bail or parole and all hell will break loose.
The tax working group will report back and there will be a bunch of think pieces explaining what this radical upheaval/maintaining the status quo/tinkering around the edges means (delete where appropriate).
This should be the year of getting it done, the Government should make sure it's the one leading the discussion and not constantly defending everything.
Over in National, they'll be praying that Jami-Lee Ross goes quietly into the night. That's unlikely to happen, so planning to mitigate against whatever cluster fuss he brings with him will be high on their agenda. For poor ol' Simon it will be more desperation to make people like him. So far it seems the more New Zealand sees of him, the less they like.
I can sympathise with poor ol' Simon. I changed schools in Year 12 and it was really tough because the school I left had some stigma for being a particular way, I had to work really hard to try make people like me. The harder I tried the worse it got. So I just accepted that maybe I'm just not that likeable and gave up on trying to become Prime Minister.
Obviously Simon's hair is peak perfection and so any changes to that should be only be done in emergencies, and consideration must be given to the fact he won't be able to do it after 2050 when the oil exploration ban kicks in.
National should also spend some time deciding what kind of right-wing party it wants to be. Are they the conservatives that so many of them seem to be - Simon, Judith, et al - or is the Kaye and Bishop model of liberal right-wingedness going to win their soul? Do they even have a soul to win? Obviously there are a lot of people in New Zealand who identify with National's values, or at least National's values under the more liberal Sir John Key, will those same people embrace a Simonly-socially conservative National?
And much like me in Year 12, National is still in desperate search of mates. I was able to find some. Can National? Its bestie, Act Party, is apparently rebranding this year. It needs to. The Act brand is so toxic that even while National has bumbled its way along in opposition, Act still can't grow its support despite having some of the richest donors in the land. It's almost as if theirs is a failed ideology.
The Greens will be hoping to do something - anything - that gets them attention. Preferably something that doesn't involve a photoshoot that the Prime Minister just happens to waltz into and claim as her own.
NZ First will easily get attention like a fart at a funeral. Some will laugh, some will shake their heads and some will support them for holding the funeral to account.
But the major thing will be that most people in New Zealand still won't care. Because their day-to-day life isn't affected by most politicking that goes on. It's the stuff round the edges that actually matters to them. There will be multiple weekly prognostications from political commentators that will helpfully tell people what they should be thinking. But the people don't really pay attention unless they really care about politics in which case they'll already know what to think anyway. So for the majority of folks they'll live their lives and hope that each day is a bit less crap than the one before.
- David Cormack has worked for the Labour and Green Parties and interned for Bill English while studying