Regional economic development, job creation and immigration key priorities for the Coalition

Labour and NZ First have formally signed a coalition agreement that sets out the details on their priorities.

Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern has said providing regional economic development and job creation will be key priorities under the new Labour-led coalition, along with spending more on health and education and increasing the minimum wage.

NZ First and Labour are also both willing to make more progress on environmental issues including improving water quality and climate change, she says. 

Other details in the NZF coalition agreement with Labour, at a glance:

• Regional development: A $1 billion per year Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund
• Rail: Significant investment in regional rail
• Forestry: Re-establish the New Zealand Forestry Service, and planting 100 million trees per year in a Billion Trees Planting Programme
• Auckland Port: Commissioning a feasibility study on moving the Ports of Auckland to Northport
• Biosecurity: A funding increase to Biosecurity NZ and a select committee inquiry into biosecurity
• Irrigation: Honour existing Crown irrigation investment commitments
• Foreign ownership: Changes to Overseas Investment Office criteria and sale of farm land (the 5ha limit). Confirmation of ban on foreigners buying existing houses, Create a register of foreign-owned land and housing
• Housing: Re-establish a Housing Commission
• Monetary policy:  Review and reform the Reserve Bank Act
• Minimum wage: Increase to $20 an hour by 2020, with the final increase to take effect in April 2021
• Tax: Increase penalties for corporate fraud and tax evasion, and introduce a tax on exports of bottled water
• KiwiBank: Investigate KiwiBank's capability to become the Government's bank on renewal of that contract
• Superannuation: Keep age of eligibility at 65 years
•Environment: Move to an emissions-free government-vehicle feelt by 2025/26, introduce a Zero Carbon Act and independent Climate Commission which will consider including agriculture into the ETS, establish a tyre stewardship fund, pilot alternatives to 1080, work towards a Kermadec ocean sanctuary
• Immigration: Ensure work visas reflect skills shortages and cut down on low quality international education courses, and take action on migrant exploitation, particularly international students
• Pike River: Commit to re-entry to Pike River mine
•Research and development: Increase R&D spending to 2% of GDP over 10 years
• Health: Re-establish the Mental Health Commission, annual free health checks for seniors with SuperGold cards, free doctors' visits for all under 14s, increasing the age for free breast screening to 74
•  Education: Restore funding for gifted students and Computers in Homes, pilot counsellors in primary schools, free driver training for all secondary school students, restart Te Kotahitanga teacher professional development
• Defence: Re-examine the Defence procurement programme
•Democracy: No new parliamentary building this term, an independent review of electoral processes and enrolments, a review of the parliamentary processes, and pass a 'Waka Jumping' bill
•Conservation: More funding for the Department of Conservation
•Law and Order: Works towards 1800 new police officers over three years, investigate a volunteer rural constabulary programme, increase funding for Community Law Centres, establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission
•Social Development: More funding for family violence networks, including Women's Refuge and Shakti, pilot a Youth Education, Training and Employment programme and provide 800 extra places for the LSV scheme. introduce Ready for Work programmes.

NZ First ministerial portfolios will include: Foreign Affairs, Infrastructure, Regional Economic Development, Internal Affairs, Seniors, Defence, Veterans’ Affairs, Children, Forestry, State Owned Enterprises, Racing, Associate Finance, Associate Education and an Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Regional Economic Development.

Details about the confidence and supply deal with the Greens are also being released this afternoon.

CTU conference

Ms Ardern will also make one of her first major public speeches since being confirmed to take the country's top job to a Council of Trade Unions (CTU) conference tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow at 3pm, Ms Ardern will speak at the Creating Our Future conference, which will be attended by more than 150 union members from 21 CTU-affiliated unions and representatives.

“The conference will set out the future working people want to create with our new government and the business sector over the next three years and beyond,” a CTU statement says.

CTU president Richard Wagstaff is expecting Ms Ardern to reiterate her commitment to “changing New Zealand to be a better place and putting people first – rather than people being an afterthought to economic performance, which hasn’t been well shared.”

He says she will be warmly received by the delegates.

“For us, the tides come in when we have a Labour-led government and the tide goes out when it’s a National-led government.”

Other speakers include International Trade Union Confederation general secretary Shoya Yoshida and Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus.

Green Party leader James Shaw will also address the conference.

A Labour-led government has been, perhaps unsurprisingly, welcomed by New Zealand unions.

E Tū assistant national secretary John Ryall said his organisation is “ecstatic” Ms Ardern will be the prime minister.

He says it is a “vindication of that effort and the values behind it – a fair deal for working people and a fairer distribution of the country’s wealth.”

On Wednesday, Labour will reveal ministerial allocations and which MPs will be receiving which portfolios. The next day, there will be a swearing-in ceremony where the Labour/ NZ First cabinet will meet for the first time.

Login in or Register to view & post comments