Newsroom Pro's 8 things: Ardern eyes mini-Budget in first 100 days; Ministers sworn in; Ardern holds first cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ascends the steps of Parliament with partner Clarke Gayford and nieces. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

In today's email we mark the official start of the Labour-led coalition government.

1. Ardern eyes mini-Budget for first 100 days

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the sixth Labour-led Government were sworn in and held their first short cabinet meeting yesterday.

The clock started ticking on the new Government's plans for its first 100 days and newly minted ministers began making decisions to roll back or suspend some of the previous Government's moves. Ardern's Government also began preparations for a raft of changes specified in its now slightly tweaked plan for the first 100 days.

Those plans include:

  • making the first year of tertiary fees free and increasing student allowances by $50/week,

    • Passing a Healthy Homes Guarantee bill to make all rentals warm and dry,
    • banning overseas residents from buying existing residential homes,
    • starting the creation of a Housing Commission and beginning the Kiwibuild programme of building 100,000 affordable homes in 10 years,
    • legislating a families package to include a Winter Fuel Payment ($450 per winter for each individual beneficiary or superannuitant and $700 per winter for each couple on a benefit or single parent on a benefit), and a Best Start payment of an extra $60 a week for each child in its first year from July 1 next year,
    • legislating to reverse the across-the-board tax cut introduced by National in Budget 2017,
    • setting up a ministerial inquiry into mental health,
    • starting the creation of a Climate Commission moving to pass a Climate Act to target carbon neutrality by 2050, in part by including Agriculture in any emissions pricing mechanisms, and,
    • increasing the minimum wage to $16.50/hour from April 1.

Ardern told reporters after being sworn in that the Government could announce and pass a 'mini-budget' through Parliament to include those 100 day plans in the fiscal outlook.

Speaking to media after posing for selfies with the crowd, Ardern said the Government needed to “act urgently” if it was to succeed with the objectives in its 100-day plan.

It was possible a “mini-Budget” could be required to move ahead with some parts of the plan, but she was taking advice from officials on whether that was necessary.

“When we sit down as a Cabinet we’ll be working through first, whether that’s required, and when it would be required by," she said.

2. Unbridled enthusiasm

One of the features of the events around yesterday's once-every-nine-years change of Government was the enthusiasm of the crowds outside Parliament to greet Ardern and her ministers after they arrived back from Government House.

The Jacinda effect is far from over, judging by the surprising number of people cheering in the sunshine.

Hundreds of people celebrated as she walked up the steps of Parliament with two of her nieces and her partner Clarke Gayford, a highlight of the day for many.

Earlier the new ministry had been officially sworn in by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at Government House.

Addressing the crowd, Ardern said it was “an enormous privilege and an honour to stand with these wonderful people here in front of you today, in front of your house, with your government”.

The ministers took seriously their roles and responsibilities, and would be a government for all New Zealanders, not just those who voted for their parties.

“Regardless of the political parties that we belong to, all of us campaigned because we believed that New Zealand is a wonderful place that can be even better, a place where everyone deserves a decent job with decent wages, where everyone should be able to access the healthcare they need, when they need it, a place where education can and should be world class," she said.

“A place where we protect our environment and we can stand and say hand on heart that we’re a society that should be judged on how we look after our most vulnerable, our elderly and our children.

“We’ve got so much work to do though, I imagine it will probably be roughly Christmas time before I think too much about the last three months which have been extraordinary.”

Ardern said she was excited and humbled by the welcome at Parliament, but it would take some time for the reality to sink in.

“We’ve got so much work to do though, I imagine it will probably be roughly Christmas time before I think too much about the last three months which have been extraordinary.”

Ardern said a full Cabinet meeting would take place next Tuesday after an 'induction' cabinet meeting yesterday.

The photos of yesterday's events were taken by Newsroom's Lynn Grieveson. Here is a photo essay of yesterday's historic events from Lynn on Newsroom.

The full cabinet line-up photos from Government House and the Cabinet room are from Getty.

3. Patsy Reddy swears in Jacinda Ardern

Earlier in the day at Government House, Ardern pledged a government that was “focussed, empathetic and strong."

The 28 ministers and three parliamentary undersecretaries that make up the new Government were formally sworn in at Government House by Governor General Patsy Reddy.

Fourteen ministers and undersecretaries, including Ardern, chose to take the affirmation of allegiance instead of swearing on the Bible, while 17 took the traditional oath - including all of New Zealand First.

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio became the first minister to swear allegiance in Samoan, while Women’s Minister Julie Anne Genter, born in the United States, received murmurs of appreciation when she made her affirmation in Te reo Maori.

After confirming she held the confidence of Parliament and pledging allegiance, Ardern addressed her executive, telling them she knew they would do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

“We have a responsibility now, to all New Zealanders, to do our very best to achieve the goals of this government. To be a government that is active, that is focussed, that is empathetic, and that is strong."

4. Foreign affairs work starts too

Ardern said her Government was already working on its negotiating position regarding the TPP trade deal ahead of APEC, and was committed to ensuring it could ban foreign buyers from purchasing existing homes in New Zealand.

Ardern will travel to the East Asia Summit from November 8 to November 16. Newsroom's Foreign Affairs and Trade Editor Sam Sachdeva will be travelling as media with the Prime Minister's party for the summits.

While Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters suggested on Wednesday “serious work” was required on New Zealand’s relationship with Australia, Ardern did not believe there was any rift between the two countries.

“When you look at a policy context, there are always things that we could and should be advocating around. There is a depth to our relationship absolutely, but we do need to make sure we keep advocating, particularly for New Zealanders in Australia, and we’ll keep doing so.”

5. And now the changes start

The new ministers got to work immediately yesterday afternoon.

New Immigration minister Iain Lees Galloway announced via twitter that seriously disabled Fijian Indian man Sagar Narayan would not be deported today.

"Case file being prepared for review of the original decision," Galloway wrote.

Newshub's Michael Morrah reported earlier this month that Narayan was due to be deported even though he did not have family support in Fiji. His parents and siblings are residents, but Immigation NZ ruled his high needs and likely medical costs meant he should be deported.

New Transport Minister Phil Twyford also confirmed on Morning Report that a 10 cent per litre regional fuel levy was being planned for Auckland to help it fund plans for light rail and other public transport projects.

New Justice Minister Andrew Little told Morning Report that the Government would withdraw an appeal against a court ruling ordering inflation adjustment for Teina Pora's payout.

6. The heavy lifters for a big shift

In his column for Newsroom Pro this week, Rod Oram picks out David Parker, Grant Robertson and James Shaw as three key ministers in the Government's drive to change the inner workings of the economy.

Rod surveys the ministerial lineup to look at its strengths and weaknesses for managing the changes ahead.

He again points back to the scale and scope of change as succinctly articulated by the Productivity Commission in its issues paper on our transition to a low emissions economy. The following quote appeared in my column before last. But it’s worth repeating:

“…the shift from the old economy to a new, low-emissions economy will be profound and widespread, transforming land use, the energy system, production methods and technology, regulatory frameworks and institutions, and business and political culture.”

See Rod's full column here on Newsroom Pro, where it was first published this morning.

Further to this theme, the Royal Society published a great paper yesterday on the effects on climate change on health, and the Deep South Challenge paper on Climate Change and Stormwater and Wastewater Systems here.

7. Coming up...

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is expected to be interviewed by Lisa Owen on Newshub's The Nation tomorrow morning after 9.30 am.

I'll be on the panel of commentators to air shortly after that.

8. One fun thing

This tweet from TV Producer Ric Salizzo (The Crowd Goes Wild) caught my eye (and approval):

"Here’s hoping the new immigration restrictions include overseas tv formats"