Jo Moir reports:
The government was forced to halt a planned announcement about its Crown/Māori Relations portfolio after New Zealand First raised last minute objections.
It’s the latest in a string of incidents where New Zealand First has pulled its support for Labour-led initiatives at the 11th hour.
Media were briefed and invited to attend an announcement by Crown/Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday, where the new agency was set to be unveiled following sign-off at Cabinet.
But Ms Ardern and Mr Davis had to roll back the announcement after NZ First refused to support it.
It seems obvious that Labour and NZ First are not talking to each other, despite being together in Government for a year.
What this means is that you can’t actually believe anything a Minister says the Government will do. In question time this was teased out:
Hon Simon Bridges: So is it her Government’s policy to increase the refugee quota of 1,500 or is that simply a personal commitment of Iain Lees-Galloway?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve said many times before, all policies of this Government are contained in the confidence and supply agreement, the coalition document, the Speech from the Throne. All other policies go through a Cabinet process.
Hon Simon Bridges: Will the Government abolish starting-out wages by October 2018?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: A third time. Look, it’s clear that we have established policy between this coalition Government that’s set out in the public domain. Everything else goes through a Cabinet process. Now, I know the member continues to be jealous that he is not on this side of the House in the position to make the changes that this Government has made, and that we have achieved in one year more than that Government achieved in nine, but we stick to a process.
Hon Simon Bridges: So when Iain Lees-Galloway said in December in a ministerial press statement that the Government will abolish starting-out wages by October 2018, was that just a personal commitment?
This is astonishing. The Prime Minister can’t actually say if two major policies announced by Ministers are in fact Government policy.
Hon Simon Bridges: Can we no longer believe ministerial press statements unless they’re signed off by Mr Peters?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No—ridiculous.
Actually that seems to be the only conclusion one can draw.
RNZ further report:
It’s understood the lines of communication between Labour and NZ First are still not clear almost one year into the coalition arrangement.
RNZ has been told the two parties are at odds over whether NZ First was properly consulted over such policies.
Either Labour Ministers are failing to consult NZ First, or they are consulting them and NZ First is reneging at the last minute.
Either way, it shows that the two party leaders have failed to have an open dialogue.