When the successor to out going Prime Minister John Key takes office next week (s)he will find him/herself confronting a number of major challenges. Some of these challenges are nothing new and are left over from the previous Labour Government, whilst others are ones that entirely formed as a result of this Government. Whatever the case may or may not be, all of them need to be addressed for the sake of New Zealand and New Zealanders.
The approach taken will depend on who the successor is. It will also depend on who has what portfolios after the change has occurred, as the new Prime Minister will likely try to give the Cabinet a fresh appearance going into 2017. This in itself poses a significant challenge as they are replacing one of the most popular Prime Ministers of recent New Zealand history. Will the cabinet remain centrist in nature or will there be a swing to the right as the conservative wing of National try to make up for years that they feel have been wasted.
A Bill English led Government for example might appeal to the moderates, but he is socially conservative and Bills of Parliament such as A.C.T. Leader David Seymour’s euthanasia bill might die or be left for another term of Parliament. A Judith Collins led Government on the other hand might take a harder line on crime and justice. The Deputy leadership race, which currently features Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett could complicate matters as both are seen as divisive by the public.
The challenges are as numerous as they are varied. The major ones that I see confronting the Government are:
- Solving the housing problem – no policy or measure introduced by this Government to date has come close to addressing the primary cause of the housing crisis
- Making immigration sustainable – and at least partially addressing the housing crisis
- Reducing the very substantial debt that has been accrued by this Government – granted three hugely expensive earthquakes, a global financial crisis and continually weak world economy have not helped
- Improving the health system – a combination of dangerously long hours for doctors and nurses in hospitals; under funding; failure at community level to tackle obesity and oral health issues; potential mental health sector melt down
- Improving New Zealand’s overseas reputation – getting out of wars we have no business in; backing sustainable trade rather than free trade
- Addressing constitutional reform – failure to tackle this issue is doing as much to undermine the democratic principles upon which this nation is founded as is Government disregard for human rights and privacy law
- Making New Zealand sustainable – we cannot continue degrading our fresh water resources; too much electronic waste being dumped before the toxic components are removed and made safe; general waste and recycling not a priority for this Government
- Reducing crime – violent crime has risen as a result of methamphetamine and a black market for tobacco products.
Of these issues I have little hope after 8 years that much more will get done on any of these by this Government. It seems very happy to ignore the unsustainable influx of immigrants despite this crippling the housing market; raising living costs for ordinary New Zealanders and creating planning headaches for local councils.
There are however steps the successor to Mr Key can take when they assume office. The question is whether or not they are willing to do so and if not, why not?