Saturday, November 4, 2017

The first 100 days: a better way

There has been a lot of talk about what the new government proposes to achieve in its first 100 days. It has set itself an extremely ambitious workload and a very limited time frame in which to accomplish it.

Political parties forced to chafe and fidget in opposition over a long period accumulate a big wish-list. They’re naturally impatient to correct everything the previous lot got wrong. When they finally get their hands on the levers of power it’s like a dam bursting.

There's a danger, then, that some of the Labour-led coalition’s priority objectives will be rushed through with insufficient preparatory groundwork or detailed consideration of the practicalities and possible consequences.

The risks are compounded because the vast majority of ministers have no previous experience in government and will be distracted by prosaic demands such as appointing staff and acclimatising in their new offices. Oh, and there’s the Christmas break coming up.

There’s also the tantalising possibility that neophyte ministers, giddy with excitement at their new-found power, will spin out at the first bend. Defence Minister Ron Mark certainly left some rubber on the tarmac this week when he appeared to rashly promise government funding for the RSA. To mix a metaphor, it looked like a case of political premature ejaculation.

Contrary to what Labour and its coalition partners are contemplating, I wonder whether it would be a good idea for power-starved incoming governments to resolve not to do anything for the first 100 days while they wait for the rush of blood to the head to subside.


John Wilson said...

Karl All on the right say that because National got the highest vote that they automatically had a right to be first to negotiate a coalition. But it did. It was just done at the same time as Peter’s negotiating with Labour. Okay he could have done it another way and just negotiated with National but then there’s no way he would have agreed with all that was put in front of him without then seeing what Labour was offering. So what’s the difference?
You also like others on the right say that Labour just gave him more than National. So can you back that up? Do you know exactly what National was offering? I haven’t read a thing about that because to my knowledge English has never revealed it. I truly would like an answer on that in case I’ve missed it.
My belief is that National have done so much damage to Peter’s personally over a long time that he just played with them over the three week or so negotiations. He was always going with Labour as he wanted a change too as National has become lazy and arrogant.
So you want a better way? What’s better than MMP. Didn’t hear the same complaint from you for the nine years that National had to grovel to the Maori Party or Peter Dunne and Act. You’ve read it before a hundred times but here goes again. The Left won by 56% to the Right’s 44%.
That’s all you need to know about MMP.
John Wilson

Karl du Fresne said...

I can't prove that Labour offered Peters more than National. However it's not an unreasonable assumption. You could well be right in saying he intended all along to go with Labour and was just toying with the Nats.
I agree, incidentally, with those who say National dropped the ball by not taking care to shore up their flanks with a solid coalition partner. And though I've agreed with a lot of ACT policies, including charter schools, I've never thought it right that it could exert so much influence off its negligible voter base. So people on the left as well as the right have reason to object to wonky outcomes under MMP.
Having said all that, I come back to my main objection, which is that Peters was able to orchestrate the formation of the new government despite having only 7 per cent of the vote. I don't think anything will persuade me that that's democracy in action.