When National lost the election in 2017, the centre-right of New Zealand politics was in a state of despair. Shock! Horror! How could Winston Peters support a centre-left Government?
Quite easily it seems. After all, Mr Peters did leave National in 1993 to form New Zealand First because he thought that the market policies of the party were going to cause irreparable social damage to New Zealand. He had opposed asset sales as a means of raising money and many of his supporters felt betrayed by both major parties.
Determined to get back at the Government that they are convinced is going to turn New Zealand into a socialist nirvana, the centre-right have wasted no time trying to undermine in any way they can the new Government. But there is just one problem: their cheer leaders seem to forget National were not any better at the same time in early 2009.
Mike Hosking, well known as a avowed National Party supporter, has spent much time trying to give the appearance of the centre-left Government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern being a disorganized, ill disciplined group that has no plans. He has been joined in recent days by columnist John Armstrong, who has criticized the Governments handling of the spy situation regarding Russia.
But are they disorganized? We are talking about a Government that has not even had time to deliver its first fiscal budget. We are talking about a Government that has not even reached the six month stage of its first year in office.
The situation with the Russian spies is one such case of the centre-right commentators trying to cast a misleading appearance. The New Zealand Secret Intelligence Service says it is not aware of any Russian spies operating in New Zealand. That is not to strictly say there are none, but that the Government is not aware of any and thus cannot expel anyone. It is also important to note that the New Zealand Government preferred to ascertain how New Zealand might be affected before it announced measures against Russia, instead of rushing into a knee jerk reaction.
It also smacks of hypocrisy. China most probably has significant spies in New Zealand, and indeed some people wonder if because of his training the National Party have a former Chinese spook in their ranks. Jian Yang denies he is a spook and so does the National Party, yet the latter works hard to cultivate significant Chinese investment here – no problem with that – but was often silent when credible concerns were raised about Chin
Another claim being made is that the Government has no plans. This could not be further from the truth. A quick look at the list of Bills of Parliament that are open for public submissions on the Parliament website show Bills of Government and a couple of ones submitted by Opposition parties. More importantly those Bills represent some substantial changes coming:
- The Employment Relations Bill deals with a wide range of changes to employment law that the Government intends to put into law
- The Charter Schools Bill ends the charade that is charter schools
- International Treaty examination of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership
- Education (National Education and Learning Priorities)Amendment Bill
- Education Amendment Bill
So, the Opposition and the centre-right commentators can grumble all they want, but how much better had the National-A.C.T.-United Future coalition done at the same stage of their nine years in office? From memory, it was about the same time that their lack of a long term plan for New Zealand was in the early stages of revealing itself. I gave that Government the benefit of the doubt until about mid way through their second year, so I intend to do the same with this one.