The beginning of our coalition Government was a little bit like standing around a car without petrol, debating how to push it out of one of the thousands of potholes that scar New Zealand’s road network. Now that those initial difficulties have been overcome, the National-led Government is walking headfirst into some of the most divisive and reactionary left-wing opposition in living memory and shows no signs of backing down.
Labour Leader Chris Hipkins described the commencement of the coalition Government as “the most shambolic beginning of a Government in New Zealand’s history” during his first speech in the 54th Parliament on Wednesday. How easily he forgets the farcical scenes in 2017 when National convinced Labour that they might not have the numbers to ensure Trevor Mallard was appointed Speaker without a vote in the House. This circus was labelled a “mild irritation” by then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The promise to repeal the previous Government’s plan to prohibit smoking generationally continues to inflame ideological nanny statists who have no motivation other than using socialised medicine to control what you do with your own life. Aside from getting a bit mixed up over the number of tobacco retailers there would have been in Northland (53, rather than just one), Luxon has stared down the hysterical anti-freedom lobby groups. On Wednesday Health Coalition Aotearoa, with 104 member groups from health, social services, education and trade unions, wrote a letter expressing their depth of shock and anger from those in the health community and beyond. I wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall at one of their meetings. ‘Chaos’ wouldn’t come close to describing the functionality of a 104 member coalition.
As the media attempted to create friction between Luxon and Winston Peters following the latter’s accusation of the media accepting millions of dollars in bribes through the Public Journalism Fund, Luxon merely shrugged. A year ago he was regularly saying things one day and re-wording them the next, now he is comfortable with having coalition partners speaking their minds even if it “isn’t how [he] would have phrased it.” I guess politicians have a lot more f***s to give when they’re campaigning for your vote but now Luxon is all out.
The National Party has arguably done more to create privileged racial treatment by the state in their history than Labour ever has; not just because Labour has done little of anything over the past six years. John Key kept the Maori Party in the tent for three terms despite not needing them for a majority in the house; a complete about-turn from the National Party led by Don Brash and Bill English the first time around. It is now invigorating to see a National-led coalition so committed to treating everyone equally regardless of race, even if it took Winston Peters and David Seymour to install the necessary backbone.
Finance Minister Nicola Willis only takes her boxing gloves off to eat these days. She was blunt in asserting that the prohibition of smoking had to be cancelled to ensure National delivers their promised tax cuts. Willis accused former Finance Minister Grant Robertson of leaving the government books in chaos and covering his trail with a series of fiscal cliffs in which government programs have not been funded for future financial years. It is an accusation of borderline Muldoonism, harking back to when the state was not required to make all their finances public and the incoming Labour Government was left a land mine following the 1984 election. She is also finding herself inadvertently fronting the first of the Government’s anti-Te Reo reforms by promoting the renaming of government departments in English as low-cost and investigating whether public sector collective employment agreements can be re-negotiated to remove bonus payments for speakers of Te Reo.
Meanwhile, Workplace Relations Minister and Act Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden is overshadowing her leader thanks to the scrapping of Fair Pay Agreements being made one of the coalition’s priorities for the first 100 days. Having been the recipient of leaked cabinet papers, Newshub is making a mountain out of a molehill due to them showing Treasury has advised that repealing the FPAs would “disproportionately affect women, young people, Maori and Pasifika.” Given the FPA legislation has barely taken effect, such advice is speculative at best and symptomatic of the need for an ideological purge from the Treasury at worst. But van Velden is unabashed, stating that she will continue to do what the Government was voted into power to do. While Richard Wagstaff of the Council of Trade Unions claims there was no consultation over scrapping FPAs when meeting with van Velden three days after being sworn in, she argues that his claims “are not a fair representation of what was discussed at that meeting”. Trade unions thrive on dishonesty and shoddy economics but van Velden isn’t shy about calling them out for it.
As the maiden speeches take place through to next year, we will learn things about some MPs that were not apparent on the campaign trail, as candidates stuck to the party line and avoided creating controversy. James Meager, National MP for Rangitata was extremely impressive when he gave his maiden speech on Wednesday. He stated, “No party and no ideology has a right to claim ownership over anything or anyone.” Meager spoke about his upbringing, raised by a single mother in a state house on a benefit. Meager doesn’t credit the state with saving his family. “It was my Mum. She took responsibility for our situation. When we fall on hard times, as we all will at some stage, it’s our neighbours and our community that should rally around in support. Only after, does the state become our safety net, as a neighbour of last resort.” I think he joined the wrong party but hope that National has more surprises sitting on the backbenches such as Meager.
The political environment over the next twelve months promises to become increasingly nasty, and divisive and the outrage expressed by leftist losers will only magnify. Over the previous six years the social justice warrior scum class graduated from their tertiary indoctrination and dribbled into Parliament in growing numbers. As identitarianism became the primary feature of left-wing politics, over class, the Maori Party has experienced an invigoration after unexpectedly winning six of the seven Maori seats. The hastily arranged Maori Day of Action protests around New Zealand achieved a turnout which hints at the type of political engagement that is likely to expand. For the first time, I think we might finally have a Government that will not falter in the face of that opposition.