The Secret Labour/NZ First Agreement
The Free Press has learned from a usually reliable source what is in the secret coalition agreement.
First things First: Why is it secret?
It is very damaging in a democracy for Jacinda Ardern to keep secret what the Government has pledged to its coalition partner. Why the secrecy? There are significant new extra spending promises. Labour does not want the Treasury to know or the extra spending will be added to the Treasury forecasts due to be published shortly.
Running out of Other People’s Money
Already the treasury forecast will show Labour’s election spending promises were understated and there is a blow out. Add the new secret spending promises and New Zealand’s credit rating is at risk. A credit rating decline means everyone’s interest payments go up.
There are or were 38 pages to the Labour-New Zealand First agreement. As the PM has almost admitted it has been edited down to 33 pages and Labour is trying to get it lower. The missing five pages are still part of the coalition agreement but both governing parties have conceded it will be very damaging if they are ever published.
What is in it? In effect the document creates two governments, A Labour/Green government and a New Zealand First government. Winston Peters is granted a veto over the Labour/Green government but in the New Zealand First government his powers are untrammelled.
- The government budget must be submitted to NZ1 (Winston) for approval
- Labour has agreed to a 10 percent a year increase in the Foreign Affairs budget.
- Labour has agreed that NZ1 manifesto promises will have priority. The Northland port and railway.
- NZ1 nominations will be approved. For example to the port inquiry.
- No concessions can be made to the Greens without prior approval from NZ1
- No new policy not contained in the coalition agreement can be advanced by Labour Ministers without NZ1 approval.
- All government appointments must be approved by NZ1
New Zealand First Government
- Foreign Affairs budget to be increased and Mr. Peter’s Foreign Affairs budget requests cannot be vetoed. Mr Peters can spend his budget how he chooses.
- All budget requests from New Zealand First Ministers that have been approved by Mr Peters must get priority.
- As Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Peters has the sole right to nominate all Ambassadors and other diplomatic posts not just Washington and London but he cannot be stopped from appointing his mates to be consuls as he tried with Owen Glenn.
- As Minister of SOEs Mr Peter’s has the sole power to appoint all the chair and directors of every SOE. Dozens of appointments.
- New Zealand First can nominate over three years six people to be knights and its nominations will be favourably considered for other honours.
- New Zealand First will appoint the next Chief of Defense.
- A provision requires all Ministers to refer any request from or to a New Zealand First Minister to go through Mr Peters office.
- The PM has agreed that she will not dismiss any NZ1 Minister, MP or appointee without Mr Peters approval and the PM has also agreed to dismiss any NZ First minister, MP or appointee if asked to by Winston Peters.
No previous Prime Minister has had the power and patronage that Winston Peters has been given. He can appoint his cronies to be Ambassadors, SOE chair and directors and he can give them knighthoods. He has an iron grip over his party. Winston in effect controls the government budget and can spend billions of dollars on his pet projects while vetoing the plans of both Labour and the Greens.
No wonder the Prime Minister, who foolishly thought none of this would become known, is desperate to keep it secret. We suspect that at some stage some of the document will have to be released but as the PM is now denying even the existence of five pages of the secret deal it may be years before we know.
We Need Some Responsible Adults Here
The Secretary of the Treasury should demand to see the full 38 pages. If the government will not let the Treasury see the full secret coalition agreement then the Secretary of the Treasury must tag the Government accounts saying that the Treasury had asked and been denied access to the full coalition agreement and future spending may be significantly greater than the forecast.
Why did the Government Change?
National lost power because, despite consistent advice from ACT, they did not confront the red tape and regulation that’s made it impossible to build homes. As one affluent central Auckland professional recently told Free Press ‘I just got the feeling that for every person who got ahead, another got left behind.’
National still don’t get it. Here’s National’s Michael Woodhouse commenting on a housing market where homes cost 10 times income and housing construction is half 1970s rates due to red tape and regulation: “The housing market is flat to falling and we are in the middle of a record residential building boom. The solutions were implemented by the previous Government based on official advice and they are working.”
Denial Files II
Beehive staffers love telling the story of Nick Smith, recently demoted from being a Minister, turning up at the airport and wondering why he couldn’t get on a plane no staff had booked for him. He’s at it again. Last week he claimed National ‘won’ the election. Nobody wins under MMP without 61 votes in the House. Unless there is a coalition of parties on the right, we will be getting acquainted with the Air New Zealand self-booking application for years and years to come.
What Will It Take?
The political Right must learn how to build coalitions and address hard issues rather than trying to conceal them behind good PR. That formula has had its day and ACT takes no pleasure from saying ‘we told you so.’ Meanwhile Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens are wreaking havoc on the New Zealand economy.