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All manner of curious treats in the stocking

What everyone [or nearly everyone] assumed is now confirmed.

National will need a three-way coalition with ACT and New Zealand First to form a government. The tight-lipped silence since the election doesn’t bode well for openness and transparency. We can only assume [hopefully] that the party functionaries responsible for oiling the wheels of government have been beavering away behind the scenes while their leaders have been smiling and waving. Or scowling and growling, depending on which leader you look at.

Now there are really only two questions. How long will it take till we actually have a government, and what will happen to all those election promises? What promises will each party throw in the bin to get a government over the line? The longer it takes, the worse it will look.

National promised tax cuts for the masses, lucrative property sales to foreign buyers that would fill the government coffers with tax bonuses, and wholesale speed increases for roads that recently had reductions [hint: This is a big deal for Wairarapa]. National and ACT also want to increase the pension age, from 65 to 67.

Now NZ First are firmly at the table, some of us will be looking at what they promised more closely.

Here are the opening lines of their 2023 manifesto: “The New Zealand we know and love is hanging by a thread. Everything is failing everywhere all at once. Woke extremism and political squabbling is not going to save us. To give hope back to our people, our families, our communities, our workers, and our businesses, we need to take action by:

  1. Defending freedom and democracy
  2. Tackling the cost-of-living crisis
  3. Providing opportunity for all in our education, health, employment, and infrastructure
  4. Getting tough on rising crime
  5. Improving the lives of our seniors.”

That manifesto wouldn’t really see those uber-wealthy offshore buyers tucking into magnums of Dom Perignon while they instruct their minions to transfer truckloads of cash to our government.

NZ First has, over the years, been staunchly opposed to foreign ownership of local assets. This is bound to be a sticking point in any negotiations.

Which raises a tricky issue for National. Having promised us all tax cuts, funded by all those rich foreigners, where will the money come from to fund the tax breaks if Winston digs his heels in?

It will be a bit embarrassing for National to concede only days after they got all those votes that the tax cuts are now scrapped. Some delicate negotiations ahead there. Look for a carefully worded statement explaining how this particular compromise is in everyone’s best interest.

The second thing that looks set for the scrap heap will be increasing the pension age. That will presumably be easy because it was due to be phased in anyway. It’s unlikely NZ First will agree to it, but National and ACT can easily kick that can down the road without too much trouble.

Finally, who gets what and where will be fascinating. Winston has famously discounted “the baubles of office” in the past.

Which political players get starring roles in this year’s Christmas nativity and which ones get the participation prizes will be extremely interesting.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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