Emphasis on ‘coalition’
After her worst week in government, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has used a major speech to set out her priorities and outline a ‘‘coalition’’ blueprint for the years ahead.
As the first anniversary since the election nears, Ardern outlined 12 priorities in a long-term plan to drive the Government’s ongoing work programme.
She said the plan represented the shared vision and priorities of Labour, NZ First and the Greens, and had the support of all of them.
‘‘We are a government of change, and this plan shows our new thinking on how we’ll tackle the big challenges facing our country and the world, such as poverty and inequality and climate change.’’ Her speech was notable for focusing on the blueprint as being a ‘‘coalition’’ document rather than that of a Labour-led government.
Winston Peters has been engaged in a power struggle with Labour over its flagship policies including raising the refugee quota, industrial relations reforms and establishing a Crown Maori relations agency.
Despite the disagreements, Ardern referred to change in those areas as being among her Government’s high-level priorities. The speech was short on detail, however, and there was no indication that Labour and NZ First had reached agreement yet on their big differences over refugee numbers and industrial relations. Peters also scuttled plans to abolish the three-strikes law in relation to criminal sentences and last week refused to acknowledge it was a Labourled Government. In a show of unity, Peters was the surprise first speaker at the Auckland event attended by about 400 people. Peters rejected media speculation of splits in the coalition and said the Government was unified and strong because it represented the ‘‘majority will’’ of the country.
NZ First was as ‘‘committed as ever to making this government and coalition work’’.
Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson were also at the event.
But despite the show of unity, when Ardern was joined by her Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Shaw for a question-andanswer session, Peters was absent from the stage.
Instead, NZ First minister Tracey Martin took a seat. It was unclear why Peters did not join the session but he was believed to still be in the audience.
Ardern described the Government’s long-term plan as a ‘‘blueprint which sets out our priorities and the steps we are taking to build a more modern and fairer New Zealand that we can all be proud of’’.
‘‘Our Government has a firm eye on the future. That’s why our plan is looking 30 years ahead, not just three.
‘‘We are a government of change and this plan shows our new thinking on how we’ll tackle the big challenges facing our country and the world.’’