Sixth Labour Government of New Zealand

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Sixth Labour Government
Ministry of New Zealand
2017–present
New-govt-2017.jpg
New Zealand executive, pictured after their swearing-in
Date formed 26 October 2017
People and organisations
Head of state Elizabeth II
Represented by Dame Patsy Reddy
Head of government Jacinda Ardern
Deputy head of government Winston Peters
Member parties Labour Party
NZ First
Greens
Opposition party National Party
Opposition leader
History
Election(s) 2017 general election
Legislature term(s) 52nd Parliament
Predecessor Fifth National Government of New Zealand

The Sixth Labour Government has governed New Zealand since 26 October 2017. It is headed by Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

After the 2017 general election held on 23 September 2017 the New Zealand First party held the balance of power between the incumbent centre-right National Party and the left bloc of the Labour and Green parties. Following negotiations with the two major parties, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters announced on 19 October 2017 that his party would form a coalition government with Labour.[1] That same day, Green Party leader James Shaw announced that his party would give confidence and supply to the 55 seat Labour–NZ First government.[2] The Greens' support, plus the coalition, resulted in 63 seats to National's 56—enough to ensure that Ardern maintained the confidence of the House.

History

Formation

The 2017 election saw the New Zealand First party hold the balance of power between National and the centre-left bloc of Labour and the Green Party. After several weeks of negotiations with both National and Labour, New Zealand First announced on 19 October 2017 it would seek to form a minority coalition government with Labour. Confidence-and-supply support from the Greens, negotiated separately with Labour, enables the Government to have a majority in the House of Representatives.[1][2] During the coalition-forming negotiations, Labour agreed to drop its proposed water tax on farmers as part of its agreement with New Zealand First.[3] In return, NZ First agreed to drop its demand for referenda on overturning New Zealand's anti-smacking ban and abolishing the Māori electorates.[4][5] The Greens consented to a confidence and supply agreement with Labour and New Zealand First in return for several concessions including a referendum on legalising cannabis, treating alcohol and drugs as a health issue, and various policies to combat climate change.[6][7]

First term (October 2017—present)

In November 2017, Prime Minister Ardern and Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker announced that their government would continue participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations despite opposition from the Green Party.[8][9] That same month, Ardern offered to resettle 150 of the asylum seekers from the former Manus Regional Processing Centre in New Zealand but was rebuffed by the Turnbull Government.[10][11] On 20 November, Ardern reaffirmed the Coalition government's commitment to re-enter Pike River Mine with the goal of completing mine recovery by March 2019.[12] Minister for Pike River Re-Entry Andrew Little also announced the creation of the Pike River Recovery Agency.[13]

On 12 December, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that the Government would be ending National Standards in schools. This announcement was welcomed by the teachers' and principals' unions but opposed by the opposition National and ACT parties.[14][15] On 20 December, the Government established a Tax Working Group consisting of several academics, business-people, and senior civil servants under the leadership of former Finance Minister Michael Cullen with the goal of reforming the taxation system and alleviating the country's housing crisis.[16] On 22 December, Prime Minister Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced that New Zealand would oppose the Trump Administration's move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly and reiterated New Zealand's support for the Two State Solution.[17]

On 19 January 2018, Prime Minister Ardern announced that she was pregnant and expecting her first child in June. She also announced that she Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Peters would be serving as Acting Prime Minister while she took leave for a period of six weeks.[18][19] In mid-February 2018, the Government introduced legislation to stop the creation of new charter schools but to allow the 11 existing schools to continue operating while they negotiated options with the Ministry of Education; with Prime Minister Ardern suggesting that the existing schools could convert to "special character" schools.[20][21] In early March 2018, Prime Minister Ardern announced during a state visit to Samoa that New Zealand would be seeking to shift away from a 'donor, recipient relationship' with Pacific Islands nations in favour of forming partnerships with these states. She also announced a NZ$10 million aid package to Samoa with NZ$3 million going to disaster relief following Cyclone Gita and the rest being allocated to social developmental and education projects.[22][23][24]

On 8 March, 2018, Trade Minister Parker announced that New Zealand would be ratifying the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an amended version of the TPP, in Chile.[25] On 3 April 2018, Prime Minister Ardern and Transport Minister Phil Twyford introduced the Government's ten–year draft land transport plan which included a proposed 9-12% a litre fuel tax hike, a proposed 20% fuel tax hike in Auckland, boosting public transport funding by 46%, cutting state highway funding by 11%, and allocating $4 billion over the next ten years to establish rapid transit including light rail with an initial focus on Auckland.[26][27] On 11 April 2018, Attorney General David Parker announced that the Government would be holding an inquiry into allegations that the New Zealand Special Air Service had committed war crimes against Afghan civilians during Operation Burnham while stationed in Afghanistan.[28][29]

On 11 April, Attorney-General David Parker announced that the Government would be holding an inquiry into the New Zealand Special Air Service's actions during Operation Burnham in Afghanistan in August 2010.[30][31] On 12 April, Prime Minister Ardern announced that the Government had banned future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand. In addition, Energy Minister Megan Woods clarified that the 30 existing exploration permits would still continue and be unaffected by the ban. New Zealand has 27 oil fields with most being located in the Taranaki Basin. The ban on future oil and gas exploration was part of a coalition agreement between the Labour and Green parties. The announcement was welcomed by Greens Co-Leader James Shaw, Greenpeace and Forest & Bird but was criticized by the Mayor of New Plymouth Neil Holdom, and the opposition National and ACT parties.[32][33][34]

On 19 April, Little entered the Pike River Mine portal with two Pike Family representatives to demonstrate that a safe re-entry was possible. He reiterated the Government's promise to re-enter the drift in order to recover evidence and the remains of the deceased miners.[35] On 4 May, Prime Minister Ardern and Housing Minister Phil Twyford announced that the Government would be investing NZ$100 million into combating homelessness. This initiative included investing NZ$37 million into building 1,500 shorter term-homes and NZ$63 million into the Housing First programme; which involves finding permanent housing for vulnerable families and treating addiction and mental health issues.[36][37]

On May 24, 2018, Transport Minister Phil Twyford resigned from his Civil Aviation portfolio after making an unauthorized phone call on a domestic flight as the plane was taking off; a violation of civil aviation laws. The matter had been raised by Opposition Transport spokesperson Judith Collins.[38][39] On 11 June, Little announced that the Labour-led coalition government had abandoned efforts to appeal the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010 (the so-called three-strikes law) due to opposition from NZ First.[40][41][42] Ardern confirmed that she would temporarily relinquish her duties to Winston Peters, following the birth of her child, for a period of six weeks. Peters became Acting Prime Minister on 20 June 2018, when Ardern went into labour. Her six-week maternity leave is scheduled to conclude on 2 August 2018.[43][44]

On 1 July 2018, the Government announced that it would be implementing its Families Package, which had been passed into law on 15 December 2017.[45][46] The Families Package would increase paid parental weeks by 22 weeks and 26 weeks from July 2020; introduce a Winter Energy Payment for beneficiaries and pensioners; paying $60 weekly payments to low and middle income families with babies and toddlers; reinstating the Independent Earner Tax Credit; and increasing benefit allowances for orphans, unsupported children, and foster carers.[45][47] The Families Package was criticized by the opposition National finance spokesperson Amy Adams for increasing taxation. In response, Finance Minister Grant Robertson countered that the Government was investing in lower and middle income New Zealanders rather than the "top 10 percent of earners." Meanwhile, Child Poverty Action Group Susan St John said that "the changes were long overdue but did not go far enough."[45][48]

On 3 July, the New Zealand Educational Institute, the national trade union body for primary teachers, announced that teachers and principals would go on strike on 15 August after the Ministry of Education rejected their demand for a 16 percent pay rise.[49][50] On 12 July 2018, 30,000 nurses went on strike for 24 hours, the first such nationwide strike in 30 years. The industrial action came after the New Zealand Nurses Organisation rejected the government's offer of a 12.5% pay rise.[51] A few days earlier, 4,000 workers at Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment stopped work for two hours to protest their salaries, their first industrial action in 22 years.[52]

Election results

The following table shows the total votes* for Labour, plus parties supporting the Labour-led government. For more details of election results, see the relevant election articles.

Election Parliament Seats* Total votes* Percentage Gain (loss) Seats won* Change Majority
2017 52nd 120 1,305,333 50.36% 63 6*

* 'Votes' means party votes only. 'Seats' means both list and electorate seats.

Notes

Significant policies and initiatives

Economic Development, Science and Innovation

Education and Workforce

  • Making the first year of tertiary education or training free from 1 January 2018.[53][54]
  • Increasing student allowances and living costs loans by $50 a week effective 1 January 2018.[53]
  • Scrapping both National Standards for literacy and numeracy and primary school league tables.[55]
  • Free driver training for all secondary school students[7]
  • Raise the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour in 2018 and $20.00 in 2020[53]
  • Establish the Pike River Recovery Agency with an accompanying ministerial portofolio[53] plus a commitment by minister Andrew Little to re-enter Pike River Mine.[7]

Environment

Finance and Expenditure

Proposed
  • Lower tax rate for small-to-medium businesses to mitigate the effects of raising the minimum wage.[53]
  • Repeal and reform the Reserve Bank Act[7]

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Governance and Administration

Health

Housing

Immigration

[70][71][72]

Justice

Māori Affairs

  • Committ to a target that by 2025 that every student from ECE, Primary, Intermediate and Secondary has Te Reo Maori be integrated into their learning.
  • Secondary schools give students the chance to choose Te Reo Maori as a main subject.
  • Ensure that all early childhood, primary school, and intermediate school teachers are provided with an opportunity to undertake lessons in Te Reo Māori.
  • Provide dedicated scholarships to increase the number of Te Reo Maori teachers and ensure that Te Reo Maori is available as an option in all secondary schools.

Primary Production

  • A royalty on exports of bottled waters.[7]
  • Divide the Ministry for Primary Industries into separate agriculture, forestry, and fishing departments.[75]
  • Reducing public funding for irrigation projects while subsidizing existing projects in early April 2018.[76][77][78]

Social Services and Community

Transport and Infrastructure

  • Re-allocate spending towards rail and cycling infrastructure.[7]
  • Establish light rail to Auckland Airport and to West Auckland.[79][80]
  • Commuter rail in 18 months to Hamilton[81]
  • Commuter rail to Hamilton and Tauranga[82]
  • Commuter rail for Christchurch[83]
  • Retain the Capital Connection from Palmerston North to Wellington .[84]
  • Reduce funding for irrigation projects[7]
  • Feasibility study of moving the Port of Auckland to Northport, Whangarei, and upgrades of road and rail to Northport; as part of Labour–NZ First agreement.[85][86]

List of executive members

On 20 October, Jacinda Ardern announced that the Cabinet would consist of 20 members, of which 16 would be from the Labour Party and 4 from New Zealand First. A further five Labour MPs would sit outside of Cabinet, along with three Green MPs.

Ministers

Portfolio Minister Party Start End
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Attorney-General David Parker Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Clare Curran Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Civil Defence Kris Faafoi Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Climate Change James Shaw Green 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage Green 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Customs Meka Whaitiri Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Defence Ron Mark NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control Winston Peters NZ First 27 February 2018 Incumbent
Minister of Economic Development David Parker Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for the Environment David Parker Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Finance Grant Robertson Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Health David Clark Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Infrastructure Shane Jones NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Justice Andrew Little Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Leader of the House Chris Hipkins Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Pacific Peoples William Sio Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of National Security and Intelligence Jacinda Ardern Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Police Stuart Nash Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Racing Winston Peters NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Revenue Stuart Nash Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Science and Innovation Megan Woods Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for State Services Chris Hipkins Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Statistics James Shaw Green 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Trade David Parker Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister of Transport Phil Twyford Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter Green 26 October 2017 Incumbent

Under-Secretaries

Ministry Under-Secretary Party Start End
Disarmament and Arms Control Fletcher Tabuteau NZ First 27 February 2018 Incumbent
Ethnic Communities Michael Wood Labour 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Foreign Affairs Fletcher Tabuteau NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) Jan Logie Green 26 October 2017 Incumbent
Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau NZ First 26 October 2017 Incumbent

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