COMMENT

This time last year I got myself quite a few headlines as various people in the media - along with members of the Government, including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister - showed a certain level of surprise, if not shock, at my score for their first year in office.

It was a nine out of 10.

Some of the shock came from the inability to differentiate between their policies and general direction for the country, and their performance as an entity or a grouping.

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Obviously their policies in many areas lack an understanding of the outcome. Hence, for example, the economy is in the state it's in.

But as a coalition they have been, by and large, professional, reasonably organised and cohesive. And when you have been around to see governments fall apart, they look a pretty slick operation.

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This week, it's two years on, 24 months. The score is no longer a nine, it's a seven.

From my point of view that's still not a bad score, given time leads to wear and tear.

They are still professional in their outlook and presentation, they don't backstab, at least not publicly, and although there are wide divides between the three parties in their view of the world, they seem to still muddle along well.

The drop from nine to seven is inevitable given things like KiwiBuild and the social housing issues. Not to mention things like the jobseeker benefit and individual performances of those like Phil Twyford, Iain Lees-Galloway, and perhaps the hapless Clare Curran.

We are also starting to see the inevitable positioning ahead of next year's vote.

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New Zealand First, in particular, need to start distancing themselves and fast from Labour to show that they have individual policy and thought. We saw some of that the other weekend at their annual chinwag.

They need to prove to voters that their place in government is actually worth something tangible that they can point to.

But here's the good news two years in - polls show they're still in front collectively. Or if not, close enough to make next year a race.

Labour remains a genuinely supported major party, which is a world away from where they were before Jacinda Ardern took over from Andrew Little.

New Zealand First remains a cohesive unit, whereby even if you take in the eccentricities of people like Shane Jones, they're still maintaining a solidish sort of support. You'd be mad to rule them out of the 5 per cent. And Winston Peters deserves real credit given his mad old days appear well and truly behind him.

The weak link, to a degree, are the poor old Greens, who have been largely left out of the spoils of this government and have had to suck up an awful lot of stuff they would never have allowed if it wasn't for the three way deal they're in the middle of.

So yes, next year, they have a lot of explaining to do around the economy, housing, and their various other thought bubbles that have amounted to so far little, if anything.

But as a unit, as a group of people who have formed a government, can they argue they've managed themselves well? Yes they can.

They are a good advertisement for MMP. And given this is a first in terms of a three-party deal, they have a lot to feel pretty good about.