In the first instalment of our annual year-end pundit-fest, we asked for the three chumps and the three flops of 2017. Then we sought a one-sentence summary of the year. Today, the question is this: What are the issues upon which 2018 is likely to hinge?
- Climate Change. The clock has run out. We, the people of the South Pacific are beginning to suffer the effects of climate change. New Zealand must show courageous leadership and move from rhetoric to practical policies now.
- War. We feel insulated here in New Zealand, but a regional war in the Middle East will drag in our allies and affect our transport and energy costs and war on the Korean peninsula affects some of our largest trading partners, China, US, Japan and Australia. Let alone if someone goes nuclear.
- The Labour-led coalition government work programme. Obviously a bit of step down from the other two. If the coalition can implement the policy platform it has promised and maintain a healthy economy, it will be the foundation for a multi-term government. If they get distracted by scandal and dirty politics, we will start to see buyer’s remorse.
- Same as last year, same as every year: events.
- The government making too slow progress on the things it criticised National for (like homelessness), opening up attacks from the left and from within.
- Trump’s impeachment.
- Will the secret coalition document also be found in Winston’s car boot?
- Paddles the second: who will run the Twitter account?
- This is New Zealand, so Māori rights are once again going to be front and centre. Water rights will be a talking point, and a massive challenge for the new government.
- International affairs will dominate. Trump, Putin, Brexit, North Korea, Syria, Germany’s political instability – things are going to get worse before they get better.
- Government transparency and accountability. This might be more of a wish then a prediction, but for all its talk of open Government, the delivery has been lacking so far.
- Child poverty.
- Inclusiveness. Everyone wants to see people off the streets, they are at the apex of poverty and inequality in NZ, new government must demonstrate action on homelessness.
- Openness. When everyone else around the world seems to be more inward looking and there are calls to reduce immigration sharply and raise the drawbridge on trade and investment, NZ must remain open to the global economy.
- Sustainability. Climate change is the thing, we need new global solutions and fast.
- Discipline. We’re already seeing the PM having to fight fires lit by arsonists within her own government (cf Shane Jones and Work for the Dole).
- Disillusionment. It’s a challenge for any government to keep its most ardent supporters happy and also be pragmatic (cf TPP or CPTPP or whatever we’re calling it now).
- Sexual harassment. Maybe we’ll start seeing some chickens coming to roost for those who have abused their power in New Zealand.
- Labour’s ability to provide speedy solutions to the housing crisis and child poverty.
- Ngāpuhi settlement.
- Whether or not Labour trips into an 11 billion dollar hoooooooooooooooooole…
- My considered and original view is that the president of the United States and commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military is volatile and dangerous. Whether it’s the Mueller investigation, escalation against North Korea, the South China Sea or something altogether else, he’ll be there.
- Domestically, as the 100-day NoDoze wears off, there will be mounting pressure on the new government to deliver on promises in core areas such as housing, health and education.
- The support parties’ attempts to etch out their own character beckons ongoing tension. For the Greens, the co-leader contest will be fascinating. An opportunity to get a bit of air-time, and express the core message. But a real risk that it becomes a proxy for wider tensions in the party. For NZ First, the challenge is to show measurable early success out of the boosted regional spend – and beware the perennial political grim reaper: personal scandal.
- In New Zealand, will the economy keep growing?
- In the world, the US doing much better than the doomsayers think.
- China: can it keep growing at 7% (probably yes, and that will be crucial for NZ).
- Stupidity creep.
- Joyous greed.
- A good night’s sleep.
- The global retreat from open borders, rules-based international institutions and diplomatic norms.
- Housing, still.
- Tax and the cost of living.
- Money. Will a slightly slowing economy trump the government’s ability to deliver its promises?
- Trump. This doesn’t really need an explanation, right?
- Coalition tensions. How long can they hold it together with National trying to drive a wedge?
- The economy.
- Coalition stability.
- National Party leadership.
- Donald Trump v Kim Jong Un.
- In NZ, credibility of the government.
- Also in NZ, the Harvey Weinstein effect. You think we don’t have Weinsteins here?