Watkins on the path ahead


Housing changes signalled by Key’s Cabinet reshuffle point the way. Budget 2015 is likely to see a big shift in resources away from Housing New Zealand to third-party providers like The Salvation Army and Presbyterian Support Services for the provision of social housing.
The aim is to boost the availability of social housing, minus any ideological hang-ups about who provides it, and divest the State over time of a housing portfolio that is growing more decrepit by the year and fails to meet demand in areas of highest need.
I don’t care who owns it. I care about if housing is available to the right people, in the right areas, in the right sizes for an affordable price.
Helen Clark’s mistake in being too slow to rejuvenate her caucus left a very deep impression on Key. He has been far more proactive, creating an expectation that there is no room in the caucus for seat warmers.
The departure of a slew of National MPs at the last election is evidence of his more ruthless approach, as is his approach to Cabinet reshuffles.
For the first time that anyone can remember Key has made a practice of demoting ministers for performance issues, rather than the more traditional route of sacking minister’s only when they have transgressed.  This has given him room to constantly renew his Cabinet. Key rang the changes with a reshuffle which he hopes will mitigate the effects of third-termitis.
Key keeps reshuffling his Cabinet while Labour keeps reshuffling their leader 🙂
The big unknown is the Green Party. They have ruled themselves out of any deal with National, but being hitched so firmly to Labour has been their curse.
The choice for the Greens now seems stark – either supplant Labour as the major Opposition party. Or position themselves as a permanent party of coalition with Governments of the Left or the Right.
That is pretty much their choices. Even when Labour wins power, they may shut the Greens out again, in order to get a centrist party on board.

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