Primary school buddies, political foes: Pundits weigh in on PM's intangible comments

2018-12-22 15:16:32

Between the years of 1988 and 1994, nestled deep in the capital's suburbs were two young boys named David Cormack and Gwynn Compton.

The pair had many similarities. They attended the same local primary - Khandallah School. They happily played cricket together at break times. They even attended the Station Rd cubs, keas and scouts club together, and even took similar career paths. Despite their time together, the two eventually developed very different life philosophies.

Gwynn Compton looked after social media for Prime Minister's John Key and Bill English. Now works for Beef and Lamb NZ, and a father of two young boys who he insists on naming after historical figures.

Cormack: What's a nuclear free moment? Is it when Lange made a policy up on the hoof without thinking through all the consequences? Because when we curtailed the oil and gas programme from 2050, it sure looks like we did that. Nailed it.

Compton: The rushed oil and gas ban demonstrated the political risks of Ardern moving too fast in this area. Other than the green investment fund and One Billion Trees, it's largely hurry up and wait for the Zero Carbon Bill and the ICCC to report back. Grade: B

Cormack: I suspect they'd prefer to be filled with food. But hope and opportunity are probably nice too. Still a lot of people in poverty. Probably haven't quite got an achieved on this one.

Compton: While poverty numbers numbers haven't moved yet, the impact from the Government's Families Package will take time. The Child Poverty Reduction Bill and Wellbeing measures being developed illustrate that Ardern is serious about making improvements. Grade: A-

Cormack: Yeaaaaaah. I mean it's not necessarily through any fault of the Prime Minister, but I don't think anyone's trust and confidence in MPs got higher this year.

Compton: Meka Whaitiri, anyone? Outside of that, the $6.5m funding cut for cochlear implants and the ditching of the mental health co-response pilot were needlessly mean given the small sums involved and the disadvantaged and vulnerable people they impacted. Grade: C

Cormack: In that it's not the same as the last government? Can't fault the logic of that one. Is it a government that's better for the strugglers of New Zealand? Absolutely. Is it changing it so they no longer struggle? That's tbd.

Compton: Ardern may have gotten through a list of high profile items from the 2017 campaign, but they're a bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul, and we're yet to see fundamental change that matches the rhetoric promised last year. Grade: B-

Cormack: Unless you work for a smaller company, then you're on your own.

Compton: The Employment Relations Bill represents a reasonable start for the Government. Recent musings about helping protect small businesses, especially around the purposefully late paying of bills by much larger companies, are also a step in the right direction. Grade: B+

Cormack: I suppose that depends on how long Clare Curran is kept as an MP.

Compton: To be fair, this is something I think every party genuinely wants to make a difference on. It's also one of those areas that takes a long time to deliver meaningful change, but so far the signs are all pointing in the right direction though only time will tell. Grade: B

Cormack: Let's do what? What are we doing? I think "What are we doing" was a more accurate refrain when they first got in, but they're settling into a groove now.

Compton: Ardern has gotten some significant items ticked off her list: First year tertiary fees-free, launching KiwiBuild, creating the Provincial Growth Fund, extending paid parental leave, banning foreign buyers, and implementing Labour's Families Package. But with many big issues still being considered by working groups, 2019 may well turn into "Let's park this" until after the 2020 election. Grade: A

Cormack: Not quite sure where higher incomes come from if costs don't also go up. Though that said, I think petrol is lower than when National left Government.

Compton: Unemployment is falling, GDP has been growing strongly (last quarter's slow down dampens things a little), the minimum wage is being lifted significantly, though there's less of a gap between wage growth and the CPI than there was, but that's to be expected as the economy hits full tilt. Grade: A

Cormack: I don't even know what this means. How can you refuse to accept the status quo? That's denying reality. I think this is something that managers like to tell potential new employees that this is the mantra of the company.

Compton: Seeing as the status quo is currently being considered by a working group, it's hard to know whether it'll be refused acceptance or quietly embraced down the cul de sac of political reality. Grade: B

Cormack: This is hard. Because they haven't been particularly open or transparent. But no government is. So technically, they mav be the most open and transparent government ever. Which is still pretty crap. Maybe openness and transparency is our new nuclear free moment?

Compton: Being open and transparent has been a running joke of 2018. Moves to proactively release Cabinet papers and ministerial meetings are steps in the right direction. A reforming of the OIA would go someway to blunting this barb too. Grade: Withheld under section 9 (2)(g)(i)

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