As New Zealanders wait to hear what Winston Peters and New Zealand First have to say about this week’s coalition talks with National and Labour, neither of the major parties have indicated which policy concessions Peters has managed to extract.
But here’s a few that the respective policy platforms suggest are likely.
Migration cuts: New Zealand First’s campaign slogan was “Had enough?”, although it seemed to lack a question mark on the billboards I saw. It referred to the population growth from migration and that will be a key part of any deal.
Peters wanted a 60,000 reduction in net migration to 10,000, while Labour proposed a cut of up to 30,000. The devil will be in the detail of the agreed size of the cut and how it would be implemented. Peters has criticised Private Training Establishments and the Government for ramping up international student numbers. Both he and Labour want to tighten up the rules around lower value export education.
Labour and New Zealand First both wanted tighter rules for lower skilled temporary migrants, but Peters was not keen to see cuts affect regional agriculture jobs or the Registered Seasonal Employer scheme which helps our Pacific neighbours.
Superannuation: National is expected to drop its well-over-the-horizon policy of extending the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation to 67 from 65.
Both Labour and National are expected to also resume contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund immediately and create a state-owned KiwiFund as a default option for KiwiSavers.
A ramped-up Super Super Goldcard is a given.
Foreign ownership: A ban on foreign buyers of residential land is a sure thing if Peters goes with the Labour-Greens combination and either a ban or a stamp duty that complies with our free trade agreements is likely with National. A proper foreign ownership register is likely under both types of Government.
A ban on foreign buying of farmland is more likely under Labour and the Greens than National.
Transport: Labour and the Greens agree with New Zealand First on the need for more investment in both regional and urban rail transport, both for freight and passengers. An early commitment to fund rail of some sort to Auckland airport is likely under both flavours of Government, as is an improved rail line to Auckland and a look at a link between the existing line and Marsden Point.
An agreement to study shifting the Port of Auckland to Northland is also expected, without a commitment to fund a full move. A national Port strategy study is also possible.
An agreement to provide $32 million of Government funding to councils to keep open 12 regional airports is a given, particularly two of the 12 are airports at Kaitaia and KeriKeri. New Zealand First supported an Airports Association proposal for the funding.
Monetary policy: Labour and the Greens would be likely to agree to a monetary policy review with an eye to changes to the Reserve Bank Act to force it to consider full employment and the currency alongside inflation, as is the case in Australia, Britain and the United States.
Changing the single decision maker system to a committee system would also be considered by both flavours of Government.
National may agree to a review and tweaks to the Policy Targets Agreement, but not agree to change the Reserve Bank Act to remove the single inflation target.
Education: A Labour-Green New Zealand First Government would be expected to agree on some form of accelerated fees-fee or loan forgiveness system for tertiary education. Labour campaigned for three years fees-free, while New Zealand First campaigned for loan forgiveness for those students who stayed in New Zealand. A National-New Zealand First Government would be more likely to lean to fees reductions than loan forgiveness.
New Zealand First’s policy losses
A bunch of New Zealand First’s more expensive and difficult policies are unlikely to make it over the line.
– a proposal to remove GST from food, which would be expensive and difficult to achieve,
– a proposal to return GST from tourism spending to regional councils,
– a plan to lift the minimum wage to $20 an hour over three years in exchange for a cut in the corporate tax rate to 25 percent,
– a plan to reduce corporate tax for exporters to 20 percent,
– a plan to force (or pay) Sky TV to give up rights to free-to-air and live sports events,
– a plan to buy back shares in the Government controlled power companies.
Who should worry and hope
There are plenty of industries and individuals who will be chewing their fingernails and perhaps pulling their hair out in anticipation of today’s decision and the likely policy mix of any new Government.
The aged care, hospitality and tourism industries (particularly in Auckland) will be worried that sharp cuts to temporary and low-skilled work visas will hit their prospects for growth hard.
The private international education sector will worry that big changes to English language requirements and work rights for students could hit demand for their courses. There may also be an inquiry into the sector and the associated issue of migrant abuse to contend with.
The agriculture and horticulture sectors in regions will be hopeful they are spared the worst of the migration cuts.
The rail and regional airport sectors will be hopeful Peters is able to secure concessions, while police will be pleased to see the extra officers all sides are likely to agree to.
Students and pensioners (ironically) are likely to be happy with whatever deals Peters secures on fees and the gold card.