Jacinda Ardern’s big “wellbeing” opportunity

Jacinda Ardern’s intricately-interlocked ministry is in place. The BIMs have been delivered. One will likely open a door to a wide new space Ardern will want to drive into.

A BIM is officials’ “briefing to the incoming minister”. In 2014 ministers heavily redacted many, which reflected badly on officials’ supposed party-political independence. Earlier this year officials briefed ministers on Winston Peters’ superannuation. read more

A turning point in our international positioning?

Usually domestic matters are top of mind for a Prime Minister. But whoever is Prime Minister — still unknown at the time of writing — will face what may be the biggest foreign policy challenge in a generation.

This will be so whether New Zealand First chooses a two-bloc arrangement — National plus New Zealand First versus Labour plus Greens — or a three-way deal with Labour plus Greens. read more

The big issues beyond the coalition gavotte

While politicians dance their coalition gavotte, there is time to ponder big issues.

Election campaigns foreshorten policy horizons from causes to symptoms in pursuit of here-and-now votes.

But the looming 2020s are likely to continue the digital reshaping of our lives and require major policy adjustments in tax, regulation, economic management and social services, assistance and equity. read more

Transformation, big tweaks or steady does it?

Here’s Labour’s tax slogan: “Let’s do this but not yet and maybe not at all.”

Last week Labour pushed the panic button — a week after Steven Joyce’s backfired panicky attempt to dig a big hole in Grant Robertson’s fiscal numbers.

Helped from the sidelines by Winston Peters demanding Labour come clean, Joyce’s “show us the numbers” tax assault forced a Labour retreat to safe ground. National might want Joyce as campaign chair next time after all. read more

A younger Parliament points towards change

There is one certainty in this election of upsets, diversions and sudden career endings: Parliament will be younger. The under-40s will swell in number. So will the lower-40s.

Already there are 11 under-40 MPs: four in Labour, including its leader, four in National, two Greens and one in ACT.

On parties’ recent polling averages up to late August that would double to at least 21 — more than one-sixth of Parliament. read more