Friday, November 24, 2023

A cruel, vicious, nasty government

So, after weeks of negotiations, we finally have a government, with a three-party cabinet and a time-sharing deputy PM arrangement. Newsroom's Marc Daalder has put the various coalition documents online, and I've been reading through them. A few things stand out:

  • Luxon doesn't want to do any work, so he hasn't taken a policy portfolio. Which also tells us there's no serious policy agenda he wants to push, and nothing he really cares about beyond the job title and salary. Even Key took tourism. Luxon, who constantyl tells us that he used to run an airline, can't even be bothered with that.
  • Shane Jones is Minister of Regional Development again, which basicly makes him Minister for Pork. Given his other famous ministerial role, the jokes write themselves.
  • Judith Collins is Attorney-General, so she'll be telling us what the BORA means. I have no confidence that she will properly fulfil her duties under section 7 to advice Parliament whether legislation breaches our human rights.
  • The Ministers for Climate Change and the Environment are both outside Cabinet. Which shows us how important National thinks those issues are, despite their centrality to the government's agenda. So are Commerce and Tertiary Education (which tells us how they feel about monopoly-busting and students), and of course Women and Disability Issues.
  • The expected ultra-right policies are in there: 90-day trials for all workers, ending Fair Pay Agreements, no-cause evictions, landlord subsidies, viciousness and cruelty in the name of "law and order". Also the expected climate denial (restarting offshore drilling, weakening emissions targets for farmers), and the expected white supremacy around co-governance and Te Tiriti and trying to turn the clock back to the 1950's.
  • There's also some more disturbing stuff: "introduce a policy to allow state schools to become partnership schools" - so basicly school privatisation. "Investigate build and lease-back arrangements for new hospitals" - which means UK style PPPs (which were a disaster for everyone but the lenders). "Explore allowing home builders to opt out of needing a building consent provided they have long-term insurance for the building work" - an invitation to a second leaky homes crisis, which will require a permanent warning on the LIM of any house built under such an arrangement.
  • National has promised ACT it will send its weirdo "4 year term at random in exchange for vague, easily breakable promises of greater parliamentary scrutiny" bill to select committee, while also promising NZ First that they would support a bill providing for a binding referendum. Rimmer's bill requires one, so this could be the same promise, but it suggests that unaccountability is a bipartisan project and that someone maybe didn't understand someone else's policy agenda.
  • Guns will be back of course, and ACT wants to permanently undermine firearms policy by transferring it from police to DIA, where they will have direct ministerial control.
  • And then there's the cooker and culture war shit: making university funding contingent on accepting ACT-defined "free speech" (which means freedom for terfs and racists, and a ban on protests against them). "Restore balance to the Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories curriculum" - so back to white supremacist history. A "National Interest Test" for "agreements from the UN". "Investigate the reopening of Marsden Point Refinery" (a weird fixation of the cookers, but its just a hole in the ground now and they'd need to build a new one). Requiring government agencies to be named and communicate primarily in English, and making English an official language, because What About White People?
  • ACT will get a "Treaty Principles Bill based on existing ACT policy" sent to select committee ASAP. Existing ACT policy is for a referendum, so they're going to be hugely divisive. And even if National takes the "only to select committee" out to avoid a referendum, the policy agenda makes it clear that they will be gutting Treaty rights and rolling back the clock in other ways, by gutting the Waitangi Tribunal, legislating to override the courts on the foreshore and seabed, and forcing racist local government referenda to remove Māori wards.

All up, this is not an agenda which inspires confidence. Its going to be a cruel, vicious, nasty three years.