Last week was the first anniversary of Winston announcing he'd go with Labour and the Greens to form a Government. Consequently the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister did some sit down interviews with journalists to talk about how much they've enjoyed each other's company over the last year and what music they sing to each other in the mornings. I think.
Because I'm not a journalist, they did not talk to me so I'm just going to tell them what I think, and what we can look forward to.
Government, it's time to start dominating the story. This last quarter you did jack-all and went up in the polls anyway.
When you started you were a shambles. You were disorganised, you didn't know what you were doing, you clearly hadn't expected to be in government and you out-sourced all your actual governing to others.
Oh sure you have done some things, and you're running a lot better now, but if the government was a movie, this last year felt less like an action packed resolution scene, and more like a long establishing shot. An establishing shot full of working groups.
The Government started its term with 53 per cent of the seats in parliament. It ended the first year with a poll result giving them 57 per cent of the seats. That's a big win. Especially, because as I noted above, their last quarter was a mare. For many people, if you ask them how their life has changed under this Government versus the National Government they'll be hard-pressed to name tangible, significant differences.
But the good news for the Government is that coming into their second year they now have a huge opportunity to make good on some agenda-setting stuff. Just this weekend they had Dave Dobbyn singing Welcome Home to the first owners of a KiwiBuild home. I like the literal use of New Zealand music and can't wait for Supergroove to play Can't Get Enough outside a Work and Income office.
But they'll no doubt get to do several more ribbon cutting/building openings/sod turning photo-shoots as new hospitals, train stations and probably roads start being made and opened in the coming years.
We'll all find out if we're being well when the Government shows us what a wellbeing budget looks like, and presumably most of the industrial action that's plagued this year will have been negotiated down through kindness.
A lot of the Provincial Growth Fund projects will actually start taking shape and so Shane Jones will proudly go to several opening ceremonies. The Prime Minister will get to show her kindness again when there's another extension of paid-parental leave, and the Green Party's policy of free mental health counseling for under 25s will be rolled out.
Naturally there's going to be turbulence ahead. Especially if the US dollar keeps going up and ours down, causing fuel prices to climb, which will mean the cost of everything will go up. I guess that's a good incentive to build those train stations quickly.
So while the past 12 months has been marked by the Government slowly getting its act together (not getting ACT together. They're so hilariously bad that while National tears itself apart, ACT is still unable to get people to support them), and it was allowed to do this by a woefully inept opposition leader who people seem to dislike the more they see, the next 12 months promise more. But with that promise comes risk, because there's a lot of hype about this politics of kindness. And if people start to feel like they're not getting what they voted for then you'll burn through a lot of capital. And it's debatable whether you've earned much capital to burn.
- David Cormack has worked for the Labour and Green Parties and interned for Bill English while studying