Sixth Labour Government of New Zealand
|Sixth Labour Government|
|Ministry of New Zealand|
New Zealand executive, pictured after their swearing-in
|Date formed||26 October 2017|
|People and organisations|
|Head of state||Elizabeth II|
|Represented by||Dame Patsy Reddy|
|Head of government||Jacinda Ardern|
|Deputy head of government||Winston Peters|
|Opposition party||National Party|
|Election(s)||2017 general election|
|Legislature term(s)||52nd Parliament|
|Predecessor||Fifth National Government of New Zealand|
After the 2017 general election held on 23 September 2017 the New Zealand First party held the balance of power between the incumbent centre-right National Party and the left bloc of the Labour and Green parties. Following negotiations with the two major parties, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters announced on 19 October 2017 that his party would form a coalition government with Labour. That same day, Green Party leader James Shaw announced that his party would give confidence and supply to the 55 seat Labour–NZ First government. The Greens' support, plus the coalition, resulted in 63 seats to National's 56—enough to ensure that Ardern maintained the confidence of the House.
- 1 History
- 2 Election results
- 3 Significant policies and initiatives
- 3.1 Economic Development, Science and Innovation
- 3.2 Education and Workforce
- 3.3 Environment
- 3.4 Finance and Expenditure
- 3.5 Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
- 3.6 Governance and Administration
- 3.7 Health
- 3.8 Housing
- 3.9 Immigration
- 3.10 Justice
- 3.11 Māori Affairs
- 3.12 Primary Production
- 3.13 Social Services and Community
- 3.14 Transport and Infrastructure
- 4 List of executive members
- 5 References
The 2017 election saw the New Zealand First party hold the balance of power between National and the centre-left bloc of Labour and the Green Party. After several weeks of negotiations with both National and Labour, New Zealand First announced on 19 October 2017 it would seek to form a minority coalition government with Labour. Confidence-and-supply support from the Greens, negotiated separately with Labour, enables the Government to have a majority in the House of Representatives. During the coalition-forming negotiations, Labour agreed to drop its proposed water tax on farmers as part of its agreement with New Zealand First. In return, NZ First agreed to drop its demand for referenda on overturning New Zealand's anti-smacking ban and abolishing the Māori electorates. The Greens consented to a confidence and supply agreement with Labour and New Zealand First in return for several concessions including a referendum on legalising cannabis, treating alcohol and drugs as a health issue, and various policies to combat climate change.
First term (October 2017—present)
In November 2017, Prime Minister Ardern and Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker announced that their government would continue participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations despite opposition from the Green Party. That same month, Ardern offered to resettle 150 of the asylum seekers from the former Manus Regional Processing Centre in New Zealand but was rebuffed by the Turnbull Government. On 20 November, Ardern reaffirmed the Coalition government's commitment to re-enter Pike River Mine with the goal of completing mine recovery by March 2019. Minister for Pike River Re-Entry Andrew Little also announced the creation of the Pike River Recovery Agency.
On 12 December, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that the Government would be ending National Standards in schools. This decision was welcomed by the teachers' and principals' unions but opposed by the opposition National and ACT parties. On 20 December, the Government established a Tax Working Group consisting of several academics, business-people, and senior civil servants under the leadership of former Finance Minister Michael Cullen with the goal of reforming the taxation system and alleviating the country's housing crisis. On 22 December, Prime Minister Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters opposed the Trump Administration's move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly and reiterated New Zealand's support for the Two State Solution.
On 19 January 2018, Prime Minister Ardern revealed that she was expecting her first child in June and that Deputy Prime Minister Peters would be serving as Acting Prime Minister while she took leave for a period of six weeks. In mid-February 2018, the Government introduced legislation to stop the creation of new charter schools but to allow the 11 existing schools to continue operating while they negotiated options with the Ministry of Education; with Prime Minister Ardern suggesting that the existing schools could convert to "special character" schools. In early March 2018, during a state visit to Samoa, Prime Minister Ardern stated that New Zealand would be seeking to shift away from a 'donor, recipient relationship' with Pacific Islands nations in favour of forming partnerships with these states and introduced a NZ$10 million aid package to Samoa with NZ$3 million going to disaster relief following Cyclone Gita and the rest being allocated to social developmental and education projects.
On 8 March, 2018, Trade Minister Parker stated her government's intention of ratifying the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an amended version of the TPP, in Chile. On 3 April 2018, Prime Minister Ardern and Transport Minister Phil Twyford introduced the Government's ten-year draft land transport plan which included a proposed 9-12% a litre fuel tax hike, a proposed 20% fuel tax hike in Auckland, boosting public transport funding by 46%, cutting state highway funding by 11%, and allocating $4 billion over the next ten years to establish rapid transit including light rail with an initial focus on Auckland. On 11 April 2018, Attorney General David Parker announced a government inquiry into allegations that the New Zealand Special Air Service had committed war crimes against Afghan civilians during Operation Burnham while stationed in Afghanistan.
On 11 April, Attorney-General David Parker announced a government inquiry into the New Zealand Special Air Service's actions during Operation Burnham in Afghanistan in August 2010. On 12 April, the government banned future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand. In addition, Energy Minister Megan Woods clarified that the 30 existing exploration permits would still continue and be unaffected by the ban. New Zealand has 27 oil fields with most being located in the Taranaki Basin. The ban on future oil and gas exploration was part of a coalition agreement between the Labour and Green parties. The decision was welcomed by Greens Co-Leader James Shaw, Greenpeace and Forest & Bird but was criticized by the Mayor of New Plymouth Neil Holdom, and the opposition National and ACT parties.
On 19 April, Little entered the Pike River Mine portal with two Pike Family representatives to demonstrate that a safe re-entry was possible. He reiterated the Government's promise to re-enter the drift in order to recover evidence and the remains of the deceased miners. On 4 May, Prime Minister Ardern and Housing Minister Phil Twyford stated that the Government would be investing NZ$100 million into combating homelessness. This initiative included investing NZ$37 million into building 1,500 shorter term-homes and NZ$63 million into the Housing First programme; which involves finding permanent housing for vulnerable families and treating addiction and mental health issues.
On May 24, 2018, Transport Minister Phil Twyford resigned from his Civil Aviation portfolio after making an unauthorized phone call on a domestic flight as the plane was taking off; a violation of civil aviation laws. The matter had been raised by Opposition Transport spokesperson Judith Collins. On 11 June, the Labour-led coalition government had abandoned efforts to appeal the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010 (the so-called three-strikes law) due to opposition from NZ First. Ardern confirmed that she would temporarily relinquish her duties to Winston Peters, following the birth of her child, for a period of six weeks. Peters became Acting Prime Minister on 20 June 2018, when Ardern went into labour. Her six-week maternity leave is scheduled to conclude on 2 August 2018.
On 1 July 2018, the government announced that it would be implementing its Families Package, which had been passed into law on 15 December 2017. The Families Package would increase paid parental weeks by 22 weeks and 26 weeks from July 2020; introduce a Winter Energy Payment for beneficiaries and pensioners; paying $60 weekly payments to low and middle income families with babies and toddlers; reinstating the Independent Earner Tax Credit; and increasing benefit allowances for orphans, unsupported children, and foster carers. The Families Package was criticized by the opposition National finance spokesperson Amy Adams for increasing taxation. In response, Finance Minister Grant Robertson countered that the Government was investing in lower and middle income New Zealanders rather than the "top 10 percent of earners." Meanwhile, Child Poverty Action Group Susan St John said that "the changes were long overdue but did not go far enough."
On 3 July, the New Zealand Educational Institute, the national trade union body for primary teachers, announced that teachers and principals would go on strike on 15 August after the Ministry of Education rejected their demand for a 16 percent pay rise. On 12 July 2018, 30,000 nurses went on strike for 24 hours, the first such nationwide strike in 30 years. The industrial action came after the New Zealand Nurses Organisation rejected the government's offer of a 12.5% pay rise. A few days earlier, 4,000 workers at Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment stopped work for two hours to protest their salaries, their first industrial action in 22 years. On 7 August, nurses voted to accept an offer by DHBs that included pay rises between 12% and 16%, an earlier new pay step for senior nurses, the implementation of Capacity Demand Management (CCDM); and a commitment to pay equity by the end of next year.
On 14 August, the Government passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill which bans the sale of existing homes to non-residents as a means of easing the housing shortage. Australians and Singaporean nationals are exempt from this ban due to free trade rules. The Bill was supported by Labour and its coalition partners New Zealand First and the Greens but was opposed by the opposition National and ACT parties. It passed its third reading on 14 August by 63 votes to 57 votes.
The following table shows the total votes* for Labour, plus parties supporting the Labour-led government. For more details of election results, see the relevant election articles.
|Election||Parliament||Seats*||Total votes*||Percentage||Gain (loss)||Seats won*||Change||Majority|
* 'Votes' means party votes only. 'Seats' means both list and electorate seats.
- Following the 2017 election, Labour formed a minority coalition with New Zealand First, and required support on matters of confidence and supply from the Greens to achieve a majority.
Significant policies and initiatives
Economic Development, Science and Innovation
Education and Workforce
- Made the first year of tertiary education or training free from 1 January 2018.
- Increased student allowances and living costs loans by $50 a week effective 1 January 2018.
- Scrapped both National Standards for literacy and numeracy and primary school league tables.
- Free driver training for all secondary school students
- Raise the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour in 2018 and $20.00 in 2020
- Establish the Pike River Recovery Agency with an accompanying ministerial portofolio plus a commitment by minister Andrew Little to re-enter Pike River Mine.
- New Mana in Mahi program introduced to encourage employers, through wage subsidies, to take on young beneficiaries.
- Signed a pay equity deal with education support workers to increase pay by 30%.
- Hold a Clean Waters Summit to examine water and lake pollution.
- Introduce a Zero-Carbon Act with the goal of zero emissions by 2050.
- Establish an independent Climate Commission.
- Set a target of planting one billion trees over the next ten years.
- Re-established the New Zealand Forest Service.
- Ceased any new oil and gas exploration permits.
- Phasing out single-use plastic bags within a year of August 2018.
Finance and Expenditure
- Cancelling the previous National Government's proposed tax cuts.
- Establish a Tax Working Group
- Lower tax rate for small-to-medium businesses to mitigate the effects of raising the minimum wage.
- Repeal and reform the Reserve Bank Act
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
- Initiate a Closer Commonwealth Economic Relations (CCER) agreement with the UK, Australia, Canada and other Commonwealth countries.
- Reopen trade talks with Russia (as part of the Labour–NZ First agreement)  These talks were suspended in response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
- Shift from a "donor, recipient" relationship to a partnership–based relationship with Pacific Island states.
- Ratifying the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Governance and Administration
- Establish a ministerial inquiry into mental health.
- Introduce legislation to legalize medical cannabis.
- Free doctors' visits for all under-14 year olds.
- Re-establish the Mental Health Commission.
- Rebuilding the Dunedin Public Hospital by 2026.
- Announced a pilot programme for free counseling for young adults.
- Signed a pay equity deal for mental health and addiction support workers.
- Passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017, requiring all rental homes to be warm and dry.
- Restricted foreigners (with the exception of Australian citizens) from buying existing residential homes.
- Cease the sale of state houses.
- Establish an Affordable Housing Authority and implement the KiwiBuild programme
- Comprehensive register of foreign-owned land and housing
- A rent-to-own scheme as part of KiwiBuild.
- Reduce net immigration by 20,000–30,000 a year. Ardern later said there would be no immediate cut to immigration.
- Creating a special refugee visa category to resettle Pacific Islanders displaced by climate change.
- Repealing the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010 ("three-strikes law").
- Referendum to legalise recreational cannabis use.
- Law allowing survivors of domestic violence 10 days paid leave from work.
- Committ to a target that by 2025 that every student from ECE, Primary, Intermediate and Secondary has Te Reo Maori be integrated into their learning.
- Secondary schools give students the chance to choose Te Reo Maori as a main subject.
- Ensure that all early childhood, primary school, and intermediate school teachers are provided with an opportunity to undertake lessons in Te Reo Māori.
- Provide dedicated scholarships to increase the number of Te Reo Maori teachers and ensure that Te Reo Maori is available as an option in all secondary schools.
- A royalty on exports of bottled waters.
- Divide the Ministry for Primary Industries into separate agriculture, forestry, and fishing departments.
- Reducing public funding for irrigation projects while subsidizing existing projects in early April 2018.
Social Services and Community
- Legislate to introduce the Families Package (including Winter Fuel Payment, Best Start, and increases to paid parental leave) by July 2018.
- Resume funding to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to keep the retirement age at 65.
- Introduce legislation to set a child poverty reduction target.
- Established a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care.
- A new generation SuperGold smart card with entitlements and concessions.
- Remove "excessive" benefit sanctions.
- Eliminate the gender pay gap within the public sector.
Transport and Infrastructure
- Re-allocate spending towards rail and cycling infrastructure, as well as road safety improvements.
- Establish light rail to Auckland Airport and to West Auckland.
- Commuter rail in 18 months to Hamilton
- Commuter rail to Hamilton and Tauranga
- Commuter rail for Christchurch
- Retain the Capital Connection from Palmerston North to Wellington .
- Reduce funding for irrigation projects
- Feasibility study of moving the Port of Auckland to Northport, Whangarei, and upgrades of road and rail to Northport; as part of Labour–NZ First agreement.
List of executive members
On 20 October, Jacinda Ardern announced that the Cabinet would consist of 20 members, of which 16 would be from the Labour Party and 4 from New Zealand First. A further five Labour MPs would sit outside of Cabinet, along with three Green MPs.
|Prime Minister||Jacinda Ardern||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Deputy Prime Minister||Winston Peters||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Agriculture||Damien O'Connor||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Attorney-General||David Parker||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage||Jacinda Ardern||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Building and Construction||Jenny Salesa||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media||Clare Curran||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Civil Defence||Kris Faafoi||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Climate Change||James Shaw||Green||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Conservation||Eugenie Sage||Green||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Corrections||Kelvin Davis||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Customs||Meka Whaitiri||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Defence||Ron Mark||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control||Winston Peters||NZ First||27 February 2018||Incumbent|
|Minister of Economic Development||David Parker||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Education||Chris Hipkins||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for the Environment||David Parker||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Finance||Grant Robertson||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Fisheries||Stuart Nash||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs||Winston Peters||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Health||David Clark||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Housing and Urban Development||Phil Twyford||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Immigration||Iain Lees-Galloway||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Infrastructure||Shane Jones||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Internal Affairs||Tracey Martin||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Justice||Andrew Little||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Leader of the House||Chris Hipkins||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Pacific Peoples||William Sio||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Māori Development||Nanaia Mahuta||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of National Security and Intelligence||Jacinda Ardern||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Police||Stuart Nash||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Racing||Winston Peters||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Revenue||Stuart Nash||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Science and Innovation||Megan Woods||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Social Development||Carmel Sepuloni||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of State Owned Enterprises||Winston Peters||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for State Services||Chris Hipkins||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Statistics||James Shaw||Green||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Tourism||Kelvin Davis||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Trade||David Parker||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister of Transport||Phil Twyford||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Whānau Ora||Peeni Henare||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Minister for Women||Julie Anne Genter||Green||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Disarmament and Arms Control||Fletcher Tabuteau||NZ First||27 February 2018||Incumbent|
|Ethnic Communities||Michael Wood||Labour||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Foreign Affairs||Fletcher Tabuteau||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues)||Jan Logie||Green||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
|Regional Economic Development||Fletcher Tabuteau||NZ First||26 October 2017||Incumbent|
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