Tracy Watkins compiles some of the challenges ahead for National:
- A November High Court hearing on the Waitangi Tribunal water ruling, which could spark fresh division if it goes down the path of ownership;
- A constitutional review, which could also stray into potentially divisive race issues.
- A string of inquiries and investigations including the Paula Rebstock-led probe into leaks at the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, which has the potential to shatter reputations and snare senior public servants in its net.
- An auditor-general’s inquiry into the horse-trading over a national convention centre built by SkyCity in return for a quid pro quo promise to allow more pokie machines.
- Ongoing inquiries into ACC privacy breaches.
- The never-ending Dotcom saga, which still has a long way to play out in the courts and includes the investigation into the GCSB.
- A housing affordability study next week, which has impossibly high expectations of an enduring solution to meet;
- And a report to State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman on the air force Anzac Day crash, which killed three servicemen. One report has already damned the safety culture at RNZAF. The Labour Department (now part of the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry), responsible for workplace safety, may also come in for heavy criticism.
I’d say the two big ones are the High Court ruling on the Waitangi Trinual ruling and the AG inquiry into the convention centre proposal. The former because an adverse ruling would derail a major policy plank of the Government’s. The latter because it involves the PM.
The MFAT leak inquiry may be interesting but not likely to impact the Govt itself. The ACC reports are unlikely to turn up anything not already known, and may in fact leads to problems for Labour with the defamation suit against Mallard and Little.
There could still be some stuff to come out with the Dotcom issue and GCSB. This could still get quite big – but there is little the Govt can now do but let the legal system flow.
Housing affordability I will cover later, and the RNZAF crash while tragic – is not likely to be a major issue for the Government itself.
The end of the year is not without a potential landmine for Mr Shearer either; the auditor-general could release her report into former minister Shane Jones’ handling of an immigration case involving Chinese national Bill Liu. Mr Liu, who goes by several names, was earlier this year found not guilty of making false declarations related to his immigration and citizenship application, despite a High Court judge declaring the case to be highly suspicious.
Mr Jones was stood down by Mr Shearer when the auditor-general launched her inquiry. Mr Liu was a substantial donor to the Labour Party. A damning report would sink Mr Jones’ political career. But a less-than-damning report that also falls short of completely exonerating Mr Jones would be an even bigger headache for Mr Shearer.
Overshadowing all else are the Canterbury earthquake and Pike River inquires, both due by the end of November. Both will require a political response from the Government that gives comfort to the families of the victims of both disasters that lessons have been learnt.
The two Royal Commissions are opportunities and threats. The Government basically needs to adopt pretty much everything they recommend, unless there is a very very strong reason not to.
And the Shane Jones and Bill Liu case is eagerly awaited. It may not reveal anything new, but even what has been revealed so far is damning.Tags: National