Labour Party Grandees Considered to have a Matchmaking role
The long duration of the New Zealand government’s post general election coalition negotiations indicate that the New Zealand First Party minority but tie-breaking faction will coalesce with the Labour Party.
The main reason is that New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters MP, the one who unilaterally calls the shots, has two key policies that blend with Labour’s. They are:-
New Zealand First’s immigration policy which amounts to cutting back intakes only to those with essential skills.
The re-entry to the abandoned Pike River mine which entombs the bodies of the brave miners who perished in the explosion there.
New Zealand First’s policy to cut immigration back to the bone chimes with the historic doctrinal Labour ambition of raising wages.
This requires that demand for labour outstrips supply.
Something which is hard to do with a liberal immigration regime in place.
It runs though counter to the operational policy of the installed National government to stimulate growth through immigration.
So there would have to be an awkward National back down, and a personal one, by caretaker prime minister Bill English
Meanwhile, Mr English has repeatedly and personally set his face on a re-entry to the doomed Pike River mine. A comedown here will mean considerable loss of face.
A re-entry, however symbolic, will be welcome on the West Coast which always votes Labour.
There are signs too that the Labour Party’s grandees, who tend to have more influence than their National Party counterparts, are weighing in behind a coalition with Winston Peters.
Bryan Gould, a New Zealand-born member of the British Parliament, and once tipped as a likely leader of the UK Labour Party, has issued a communique warning of the dangers of getting in too deeply with the Chinese.
This indicates a clear tilt toward Winston Peters who has been issuing the same type of warning, and who favours a re-balance with the North Atlantic.
A further dowry that Mr Peters can bring to Labour is his campaign positioning as champion of farmers.
The inability of the National government to boil down the nation’s agricultural water problem into digestible policies allowed Mr Peters to successfully insert himself into the confusion.
Mr Peters has worked with Labour before.
It was Mr Peters also who produced the recognisable ace welfare card in recent times, his Super Gold Card giving pensioners substantial discounts on essentials, notably public transport .
The option for the caretaker National government is to know that their time is up. Temporarily. Sit out the next three years and hope for the worst.
Then, having lost no face, having been seen to have stood behind its principals (something it often finds hard to do) and then to resume its normal course as it sees it, as the natural party of government.
| From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk || Monday 16 October 2017 |||
Cloture regime must be imposed to stop endless coalition “negotiations”
Several weeks after its general election New Zealand remains rudderless under what is now officially described as a “caretaker” government.
A minority party, New Zealand First, will dictate the makeup of the government that will eventually take power.
The impression internationally is of an unstable nation, more of a Latin one than a Westminster one.
There is in existence no statute defining for example the limit of the post-election coalition deliberation duration.
There is for example no statute which promulgates an incentive to an early conclusion of negotiations such as that another general election must be held if agreement cannot be reached after perhaps 10 days.
Politico-jurists such as Sir Geoffrey Palmer (pictured) dedicate themselves to the propounding of a New Zealand constitution similar to the one that underpins the United States.
It is now obvious though that this crusade needs to be approached from a tactical point of view, rather than the all-encompassing one of the omnibus constitution.
Proportional representation was imposed by the Allies after World War 2 on the Axis nations of Germany and Italy.
The purpose was to prevent any one party from having overwhelming power of the type that might see ushered in another fascist regime.
In New Zealand the reason given was for minority interests, specifically Maori ones, to be guaranteed of having their own nominal representation.
In the event, this last MMP election saw Maori parties washed out of Parliament.
New Zealand’s proportional representation electoral system was the result of a referendum in 1993
Victoria University – Chicago Survey still remains the last word
We are told by former prime minister Jim Bolger among select others that what Winston Peters MP really wants is “respect.”
Yet what precisely is respect these days and who exactly has it?
One thing is obvious and it is that the Right Honourable Winston Peters MP PC does not believe that he has enough of it.
Otherwise he would not be so actively seeking more of this elusive commodity.
Our starting point to putting flesh on the bones of the elusive respect is what became known as the “Congalton” report on the status of occupations here.
This report named after its driving force A.A Conglaton of Victoria University was a joint venture with the University of Chicago.
It was one of the rare academic reports to have generated a strong response outside the university, as well as the usual fluttering of the dovecotes inside.
In the midfield of the occupations in terms of status that of politician appeared under that of journalist or “news reporter” as it was described in the survey.
Standing unrivalled in the top three positions of this survey were in order :-
Would Mr Peters have thus been accorded more respect had he remained just a solicitor instead of chancing his arm as a professional politician?
There have been numerous other such reports since the Congalton one.
These though have been adjusted around the funding available to complete them and therefore have been of a modish and thus tendentious nature woven around gender and ethnic pivots.
In the context of today’s debate the ascendancy of the occupation of news reporter over that of politician remains the outstanding condundrum.
This was prior to the university-isation of journalism. Before it became feminised. Before its pseudo -professional “investigative” era
In those days news reporters did just that. They reported the news.
It is hard to discern any other clues.
One might be in the old city & guilds type of grading qualifications such as in Pitmans.
Still, this must be set against the status from which National member of parliament were drawn in those days which then as now was from a farming-professional one.
Or the notably much stronger profile in those days of the Labour members, drawn from a union-academic background.
Mr Peters meanwhile is no politico-literary slouch and enjoys quoting from David Lloyd George among whose utterances are those to the effects of the “baubles” of office and “the glory of the unadorned name.”
In the event Lloyd George was hardly immune to such temptations having succumbed to the title of Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, OM, PC.
Is there something familiar about this?
As a House of Lords Member a Lord Peters can serve in a New Zealand government cabinet
Knowingly or unknowingly New Zealand caretaker prime minister Bill English has it within his gift to put renegade electoral balance of power holder Winston Peters MP on the high road.
The one that leads to the House of Lords.
Former National Party prime minister Jim Bolger signalled that Mr Peters wanted “respect.”
This can now be interpreted beyond the abstract sense in which until now it has been taken.
Neither does it take the form of a knighthood.
Mr Bolger has deliberately stood aside from this diluted form of ennoblement.
Mr Peters will do so, if he has not already done so.
It is within a New Zealand prime minister’s patronage or gift to recommend to Buckingham Palace a candidate for the House of Lords.
The last such candidate was the late Lord Cooke of Thorndon, an eminent jurist.
Mr Peters displays many of the characteristics of this former Wellington law lord.
He is also a lawyer. He is at ease with formality, and protocol.
He is consistently pro monarchist.
He has long been an advocate of Commonwealth trade preference.
Early last year he addressed the House of Lords on this topic in the context of Brexit.
His speech widely publicised in Great Britain was ignored here.
Why then cannot Mr Peters be similarly dispatched to the House of Lords by a coalition friendly Labour government?
The reason is that as a Labour Party initiative such a bold move would be much, much, more difficult if it could be implemented at all.
The action by the last Labour government in eliminating the British honours here was one of string of slaps across the imperial face dating from the Norman Kirk era.
Such an elevation will require also the endorsement of the British prime minister.
Premier Theresa May is likely to have doubts about sponsoring into the House of Lords a new member who is part of a Labour Party. Mrs May would need to be assured that such a candidate was not going to add to the Brexit dissonance.
Neither is it widely understood that as a member of the House of Lords Mr Peters, now Lord Peters, could still serve as a member of a New Zealand government cabinet.
He could not of course continue to sit as a Member of Parliament.
No insoluble problem here to a delicately balanced National-led MMP coalition because the next one on his list would simply slide in at the bottom.
By House of Lords standards Mr Peters at 72 is not very old.
An operational problem is the financing of a member of the House of Lords from New Zealand.
Robin Cooke QC, Lord Cooke of Thorndon, was able to look after the costs of his own membership of the House of Lords.
In the instance of Mr Peters an obvious solution is for his deployment to be part of the operations of New Zealand House.
Mr Peters, now Lord Peters, as a New Zealand cabinet member with an international role would therefore become an official deftly positioned to push the national cause simply by being part of the establishment instead of a mere observer looking in.
Couched in bitter-sweet terms here is part of Mr Peters’ somewhat prescient pre-Brexit appraisal of the position that he delivered to the House of Lords last year……
………The Commonwealth the UK will find in 2016 is quite different to the one it turned its back on in 1973. Infrastructure has come on in leaps and bounds. The days of the Commonwealth having nothing but raw commodities are gone.
It is now a dynamic powerhouse, crossing every time zone and trading session in the world. It covers nearly 30 million square kilometres, almost a quarter of the World’s land area. It’s members can be found in every single inhabited continent. Together, we have a population of over 2.3 billion, nearly a third of the world’s population. In 2014 the Commonwealth produced GDP of $10.45 trillion, a massive 17% of gross world product. Seen that way the Commonwealth could be a colossus.
The Christian Democrats’ score, sharply down on the 41% of the vote it collected in the previous 2013 elections, was widely seen as disappointing and is likely to leave Merkel diminished on the domestic political stage.
Manufacturers are important employers in New Zealand creating many opportunities for skilled and unskilled labour.
As released in ManufacturingNZ’s election manifesto, the sector employs 250,000 people and accounts for 14% of all jobs.
In the current skills shortage environment, the sector needs the incoming government to have a cohesive strategy for addressing growing the workforce of today and in the future.
In the EMA Election Manifesto, it outlined several recommendations to close the skills and training gaps. These included:
- Applying more funding to fill the skills gaps in the trade sector and incorporate an employer-based approach - Policies need to reflect lifelong career development, including a continuation of funding and support for workplace literacy programmes; and an co-ordinated approach to managing an ageing workforce - Ensuring the immigration process is less complicated, having a greater emphasis on the points system to meet the required skills required by employers. Automatic extension of temporary work visas for sectors placed on the skills shortages list
"Our manufacturing sector is an integral part of New Zealand’s economy. It produces around 50% of our exports, makes a significant contribution to the regions, invests in plant and machinery along with investing about $450 million in research and development," says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.
"While automation and developments in technology have enhanced the manufacturing sector, there is a worsening labour shortage - 65% of employers say there is, or soon will be, a skills shortage in their sector. The next government needs to address this."
Another key challenge for manufacturers is transport and infrastructure. In the EMA Election Manifesto, it outlined several areas that business wants addressed in this regard. These range from expediting critical national infrastructure, easing congestion particularly in Auckland through to reforming the resource management system.
"We need to keep ahead of the demand curve to ensure our manufacturers remain competitive. This impacts their entire supply chain, from sourcing of materials through to getting goods to market - and everything in between," says Mr Campbell.
What business needs from the incoming government is continuity around the current employment and labour relations framework, says EMA.
“Many members are raising their concerns about what will happen to workplace relations if there is a change as outlined in Labour’s Fair Pay Agreements policy,” says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.
“I urge all employers to take a good look at this policy. Within it are plans for significant change to the enterprise-level bargaining framework that has been in place for many years.”
Under the Employment Relations Act (2000) there is a clear framework for how employers and employees negotiate in good faith.
“This approach gives companies the flexibility to negotiate agreements with their workers to best meet the needs of the operation. Don’t forget, with this comes responsibilities that the employer must abide by too. If they don’t, they can find themselves facing hefty penalties along with irreparable reputational damage.
“We want a system which enables New Zealand business to remain competitive, now and into the future,” says Mr Campbell.
The EMA Election Manifesto highlighted the key areas its members wanted addressed by an incoming government. Some of the points highlighted were the need to address the Holidays Act and to ensure the principles and framework developed by the Pay Equity Working group were enshrined in the new legislation.
It also raised the need for a cohesive strategy on addressing the dynamic of the country’s ageing workforce along with closing the gap on skills and training, to help employers recruit and retain their workforce.