N.Z. Politics: Who to watch/what to watch for in 2019


New Zealand politicians are still on holiday. Whilst they continue their break we look at the likely movers and shakers in the New Zealand Parliament in 2019.

NATIONAL

Simon Bridges will be desperate to solidify his hold on the National Party in the middle year of this three year Parliamentary cycle. As the M.P. with perhaps the most unenviable job in the House of Representatives, Mr Bridges will be aware of even if he does not want to admit it, the painful fact that unless a first term Government has a catastrophic term, it will probably be returned to office.

Chris Bishop is a man on the move in the National Party ranks. Well known, ambitious and hard working, with a growing social media profile he clearly has eyes on one of the bigger shadow ministerial portfolio’s. Expect to see him growing more active as this term progresses.

Amy Adams will be disappointed with her performance and I expect to see her demoted from the role of Shadow Treasurer. Nearly invisible with no hits landed against Treasurer Grant Robertson, there are better suited National M.P.’s for the role. With her talent and intelligence though, it is likely that she would pick up another significant spokesperson role.

For National, now will be a good time to clear out some dead wood – to use an infamous National Party term coined by former President Michelle Boag – now littering the caucus. A few Members of Parliament have already departed in the form of Steven Joyce, Bill English, Chris Finlayson and David Carter. Other Members of Parliament such as Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith may decide to head for the door instead of risk spending another term on the Opposition benches at the next election.

LABOUR

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a stellar year and was New Zealand’s leading politician for largely the right reasons in 2018. This year will see her beginning to build on her grasp of the role. It will also be the year when she might contemplate her first cabinet reshuffle with several Ministers needing a rev up and other M.P.’s starting to push hard for a role. Baby Neve will continue to feature as the Jacinda brand of “kindness and compassion” takes centre stage.

Ministers needing to make big moves this year will be Carmel Sepuloni who has been quiet on the Social Development portfolio. Chris Hipkins will continue to work on Labours long term plan for the education system, though I get the feeling it might be more of a case of knuckling down and thrashing out the details kind of year. Minister for Environment David Parker will be wanting to make moves on waste and will be coming under increasing pressure to address the growing fresh water problem.

A.C.T.

David Seymour can only do so much. As the one man band of the 51st Parliament he is spokesperson for everything. Rather than attempt to be spokesperson for everything he will no doubt be focussing on the issues that are central to the A.C.T. philosophy – tax, regulations, justice and individual freedoms. A big year for him either way.

GREENS

Marama Davidson might be the Green Party co-leader, but she earned widespread derision by trying to take back the word cunt. To this day I am not sure what the intention behind it was, but she certainly had more important things she could have been focussing on to say nothing of helping to lead the rebuilding of a party that barely survived 2017.

James Shaw has had a somewhat better year. As the male co-leader of the Greens and one of their smartest Members of Parliament, he has been able to say that some significant policy was pushed through the House in his first year as a Minister. He will be

Two other M.P.’s are worthy of mention. Eugenie Sage might have had her reasons when she made the decision to allow Chinese water bottling companies to take water from the aquifers under Christchurch at a rate that infuriated locals, however ratepayer anger means whatever she does on the issue, some will view her as tarnished. Julie Anne Genter, who gave birth last year and who I think is the smartest Green in the House, has the increasingly important Transport portfolio, which is why I was disappointed to hear what sounded like a cop out on the time it will take to address our road toll.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST

Once again the “Winston is retiring” machinery is cranking up. Pundits are picking a multi horse race to take over from Winston Peters, a Minister of the Crown who has not yet announced anything along the lines of a post-Parliamentary life, but which many expect to happen this term. Strange though that such rumours exist when it is obvious that Mr Peters will retire when he is good and ready and not when reporters think.

Ron Mark is one Minister to watch. As Minister of Defence and an old soldier, Mr Mark is one of the few really passionate Ministers I have seen in this role. It is clear that he cares about the ranks of the armed forces in which he used to serve, and so far his decision making on Defence Force purchases has been rock solid. With further big decisions on the horizon, it will be interesting to see Mr Mark’s hand.

Shane Jones, the charismatic straight talking Minister of Regional Development, has a complex job administering the regional growth fund. With all sorts of companies, individuals and organizations wanting support, Mr Jones needs to be careful that he does not compromise his fellow Ministers – not all are being honest when they rail against measures to protect vulnerable worker, yet tell him they deserve the funding.

 

 

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