When Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a part time Prime Minister, he conveniently forgot that for New Zealand to have a presence of the world stage it means going overseas occasionally and having the necessary contact with world leaders. Mr Bridges also seemed to forget that there are a bucket list of problems he could have tried to tackle her on that would have been a bit more meaningful.
When someone writes out a bucket list of things they say they are going to do, it is generally understood that it is out of want and normally meant in a pleasurable sense.
The bucket list of things that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern needs to tackle in New Zealand is probably not a pleasurable one. It is certainly not an easy one. Ticking some of them off will create considerable political capital and give her a good track record looking forward to the 2020 General Election.
It is a long one and this is just a snap shot across a few key areas of the sheer diversity of issues facing the Government:
- Health – waiting lists, D.H.B. funding, vaccinations, affordable dental care, Pharmac subsidised medications…
- Education – restoring science, introducing compulsory civics, N.C.E.A., managing teacher workloads, the relevance of Tomorrow’s Schools
- Justice – drugs, overcrowded jails, effectiveness of the courts
- Economy – taxation, green tech, climate change, decongestion of roads, jobs training, support for small and medium businesses
- Social welfare – poverty, reforming social welfare legislation, drug reform, domestic violence
- Environment – climate change, waste, fresh water, R.M.A. reform, air pollution
As can be seen the range is substantial and there are a host of other areas such as foreign policy, transport, conservation – among others – which I have left off. But if I had to take one issue from each of those areas of concern and call it a priority, the list would look like this:
- Health – Waiting lists: I have long thought that there should be a one off $1-2 billion injection into operations for people on the waiting lists with nothing other than sorting out as many people as possible; the spending will partially pay for itself by having a whole lot of people who might be limited in what they can do being able to partake in activities currently off limits and go back to work
- Education – Tomorrow’s schools: For me this just manages to beat out managing teachers workloads and N.C.E.A.; after 30 years there is a need to check on the ability of the Tomorrow’s Schools model to deliver adequate and appropriate education and if it is outmoded, what will replace it?
- Justice – Drugs: New Zealand needs to ditch the American approach and either legalize or decriminalize what I call common cannabis; too many people are going to jail for it and they are coming out in a worse state than they went in
- Economy – Small and medium businesses; many of which are the Ma and Pa stores, the local chains like Bakers Delight, Challenge and so forth which might include simplifying compliance processes and managing H.R. and O.S.H. issues
- Social welfare – Reforming social welfare legislation: Anyone who has been into a Work and Income office will know the often cold relationship between clients and case managers; reforming the laws will help to – along with staff retraining – reduce the wastage that goes on behind the scenes, but also disarm confrontations before they happen
- Environment – Waste: Whilst Minister for Environment Eugenie Sage has announced some good ideas such as supporting e-waste initiatives, there are some simple things that could be made to happen and have immediate positive impact on the environment such as recycling aluminium which could be made possible by introducing a nation wide recycling programme; same for glass
Former Treasurer Dr Michael Cullen talked about the “knowledge economy” that was needed for New Zealand to grow. Former Prime Minister John Key’s National Party coined the slogan “A brighter future” and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern came up with “Lets do this”.
Yes Jacinda. Let’s do this. Let’s adopt my suggestions now and New Zealand will be on the way to the brighter future we never got from National.