Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)
Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)

PoliticsFebruary 23, 2024

What’s been done – and what’s left to do – in the government’s 100-day plan

Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)
Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)

The prime minister is ‘confident’ he can tick off the remaining 21 items on the list by his deadline of March 8. But what’s left on the 49-point agenda?

It’s been about three months since Christopher Luxon stood in the Beehive theatrette and announced that he and his new coalition partners had finalised a 100-day plan. 

The first hundred days is often observed as a crucial period for a new government or leader, as they attempt to put their stamp on governance after an election victory. It’s a particularly American benchmark that’s slowly made its way into domestic politics.

For this government, much of the plan involves dismantling the former government’s policies . There were the biggies, like the formal end of any work on light rail in Auckland, the scrapping of Three Waters and the surprise backpedal on smokefree laws. But there are also some vaguer promises – such as “beginning work to crack down on serious youth offending”, which is practically meaningless. 

The coalition trio (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Announcing the plan last November, in words that he has come to repeat frequently since taking office, including in his state of the nation address on Sunday, Luxon said the 100-day plan was  “focused on rebuilding the economy, easing the cost of living, restoring law and order and delivering better public services”.

Speaking to reporters at this week’s post-cabinet press conference, Luxon said he remained confident that any outstanding items on the agenda would be checked off. “I get once or twice a week a full review of all 49 actions, the progress that’s been made and whether it’s on track, off track [or] ahead of programme,” the prime minister said. “And now it’s about making sure we get our legislative programme out in the sitting block that remains, and we’re very confident we can do that.”

The tragic passing of Green MP Efeso Collins on Wednesday led to parliament adjourning early and two days of debate were cancelled. March 8 was the original date to end the 100 days, but that may change once the House is sitting again. In the meantime, here are all 49 proposals – including those that have been completed and those where there’s still work to be done.

  • DONE: Stop work on the Income Insurance Scheme.
  • DONE: Stop work on Industry Transformation Plans.
  • DONE: Stop work on the Lake Onslow pumped hydro scheme.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin efforts to double renewable energy production, including a NPS (national policy statement) on Renewable Electricity Generation. 

The government hasn’t yet announced specific plans to implement this bullet point on its 100-day plan, which relates to National Party policy announced last March that promised to make changes to resource consents.

  • DONE: Withdraw central government from Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM).
  • DONE: Meet with councils and communities to establish regional requirements for recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent major flooding events.
  • DONE: Make any additional Orders in Council needed to speed up cyclone and flood recovery efforts.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Start reducing public sector expenditure, including consultant and contractor expenditure. 

There hasn’t been any formal announcement on this yet, but there have been movements behind the scenes. Under its campaign plan, National had said it would look to reduce public sector numbers across 24 ministries but last month, the finance minister Nicola Willis confirmed to RNZ that she had instructed all departments to consider cost-cutting measures. 

  • DONE: Introduce legislation to narrow the Reserve Bank’s mandate to price stability.

This was the first action taken by the government last year, fulfilling an election pledge. 

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Introduce legislation to remove the Auckland Fuel Tax.

The government has confirmed it will be repealing the Auckland fuel tax in the middle of this year, but the legislation to see this happen hasn’t yet been introduced to parliament. This is likely to come in the very near future, during the current sitting block.

David Seymour, Christopher Luxon and Winston Peters arrive for the signing of the coalition agreement (Photo: Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images)
  • DONE: Cancel fuel tax hikes.

In his state of the nation speech, Christopher Luxon confirmed the government had “cancelled the planned hikes to fuel tax”, fulfilling an election pledge he made while in opposition.

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin work on a new GPS reflecting the new Roads of National Significance and new public transport priorities.

We’re yet to hear a lot about this, but transport minister Simeon Brown confirmed earlier in the year that he was currently drafting a new government policy statement – or GPS – in order to meet the commitment under the 100-day plan. 

“Our draft GPS will confirm the Roads of National Significance, like Mill Road and East West Link, are back, underscoring our commitment to critical infrastructure that supports economic growth and regional development,” said Brown.

  • DONE: Repeal the Clean Car Discount scheme by 31 December 2023.
  • DONE: Stop blanket speed limit reductions and start work on replacing the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022.
  • DONE: Stop central government work on the Auckland Light Rail project.
  • DONE: Repeal the Fair Pay Agreement legislation. 

This was one of the government’s first moves since parliament resumed late last year, earning a quick win for the Act Party whose MP Brooke van Velden was responsible for dismantling the scheme. 

“We have moved quickly, as the public expects us to do, to implement one of our 100-day priorities and remove this blunt tool before any Fair Pay Agreements were finalised,” van Velden, the workplace relations minister, said at the time.

Act deputy leader and workplace relations minister Brooke van Velden (Photo: Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)
  • DONE: Introduce legislation to restore 90-day trial periods for all businesses.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Start work to improve the quality of regulation.

This is a vague commitment, so it’s difficult to pinpoint any actions completed thus far. However, Act’s David Seymour is the minister of regulation and leads a new ministry specifically targeted at regulation. While there may not be any direct moves to meet this commitment yet, Seymour’s role suggests the government will be able to say it has achieved this when the 100 day mark ticks over.

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin work on a National Infrastructure Agency.

This was a specific National Party policy, but there has since been limited information on the government’s plans to address it. Richard Harmon at Politik noted last year that while NZ First likely had its eyes on the infrastructure portfolios, the coalition placed National’s Chris Bishop and Simeon Brown at the head of this sector.

  • DONE: Introduce legislation to repeal the Water Services Entities Act 2022.

The government has formally repealed the last government’s “three waters” scheme, intending to replace it with its own proposal: Local Water Done Well.

  • DONE: Repeal the Spatial Planning and Natural and Built Environment Act and introduce a fast-track consenting regime.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin to cease implementation of new Significant Natural Areas and seek advice on operation of the areas.

This hasn’t been completed yet, but we know who’s in charge. The government has delegated responsibility for SNAs to Act’s Andrew Hoggard. 

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Take policy decisions to amend the Overseas Investment Act 2005 to make it easier for build-to-rent housing to be developed in New Zealand.

We haven’t heard a huge amount about housing from the government this term, and it was largely ignored in the prime minister’s state of the nation. More to come.

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin work to enable more houses to be built, by implementing the Going for Housing Growth policy and making the Medium Density Residential Standards optional for councils.

Yet to be implemented, but clearly promised ahead of last year’s election. It comes just a few years after a “truce” between Labour and National to push forward with these housing rules.

  • DONE: Abolish the previous government’s prisoner reduction target. 
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Introduce legislation to ban gang patches, stop gang members gathering in public, and stop known gang offenders from communicating with one another.

This is a major tranche of the National Party’s planned justice overhaul, which perhaps indicates why we haven’t had much movement yet. As the Herald’s Thomas Coughlan noted earlier in the week on Newstalk ZB, these proposals shouldn’t be rushed. “Particularly in the justice sector, the gang patches legislation and the search powers for firearms – that’s the stuff you want to get quite right when you’re dealing with a fractured sort of relationship between the police and the gangs.”

PM Christopher Luxon (Image: Getty Images)
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Give Police greater powers to search gang members for firearms and make gang membership an aggravating factor at sentencing.
  • DONE: Stop taxpayer funding for section 27 cultural reports.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Introduce legislation to extend eligibility to offence-based rehabilitation programmes to remand prisoners.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin work to crack down on serious youth offending.

This is quite vague, as “beginning work” on something doesn’t necessarily indicate new legislation or government directives. But, at this point, it doesn’t appear that any work in this area has started.

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Enable more virtual participation in court proceedings.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin to repeal and replace Part 6 of the Arms Act 1983 relating to clubs and ranges.

Unlike other legislative changes in the 100-day plan, this particular proposal doesn’t specify that the repeal has to have happened by March 8. Instead, work to repeal and replace Part 6 just has to have started. There’s no indication yet that any movement on this has happened.

  • DONE: Stop all work on He Puapua.

More of a signal to those opposed to the ideas contained in He Puapua, a 2019 report that outlined how New Zealand could meet its obligations regarding a UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, than something that actually required much action, this was dead in the water as soon as Labour lost the election. Labour said it was simply a discussion document rather than government policy anyway.

  • DONE: Improve security for the health workforce in hospital emergency departments. 

Implemented late last year, the government said 200 additional security staff were provided to 32 emergency rooms around the country. The additional staff were available from December through mid-January or late February depending on local needs, said health minister Shane Reti. “At Middlemore, senior staff report that violent incidents almost halved during December 2023 (compared with the previous December).  While Health NZ will continue to assess results nationally, that’s very encouraging.”

Health minister Shane Reti (Photo: Lynn Grieveson – Newsroom via Getty Images)
  • DONE: Sign an MoU with Waikato University to progress a third medical school.

A recent move. Here’s what the government said just last week: “The ministry and the university will now work together on a robust process to make sure the model can achieve the health workforce outcomes we all know New Zealand needs.” 

  • DONE: By 1 December 2023, lodge a reservation against adopting amendments to WHO health regulations to allow the government to consider these against a “national interest test”. 

A slightly baffling inclusion on this list, this was an early win for New Zealand First. It perplexed many experts who questioned why it was needed

  • DONE: Require primary and intermediate schools to teach an hour of reading, writing and maths per day starting in 2024. 

“Teaching the basics brilliantly” was how the National Party pitched this proposal while in opposition. And starting from the beginning of this year, this was introduced as government policy. “We’re seeing that many schools are already doing this well, but this change is about having time dedicated to teaching reading, writing and maths in a purposeful and deliberate way consistently across New Zealand,” said education minister Erica Stanford.

  • DONE: Ban the use of cellphones in schools. 

“Schools are required to have rules in place by 29 April 2024, but the expectation is that many schools will have these in place for Term 1,” said the education minister, Erica Stanford.

  • DONE: Appoint an Expert Group to redesign the English and maths curricula for primary school students.
  • DONE: Begin disestablishing Te Pūkenga.

Te Pūkenga was the name for the super-polytech institute established by the former government, merging all 16 existing institutions into one. As part of its 100-day plan, the new coalition government started to break it up in December, intending to launch eight or so polytechs in its place. “The council of Te Pūkenga has been asked to cease any activities that are inconsistent with disestablishment,” tertiary education minister Penny Simmonds said. “This includes recruitment and staff restructuring activity, and other actions that will make it difficult to re-establish former ITPs as institutions.”

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin work on delivering better public services and strengthening democracy.

How one begins work on “strengthening democracy”, I don’t know, but we’re yet to hear anything about this proposal. The government will likely argue that its proposed public service cuts will lead to better delivery – but we haven’t heard much about that either.

  • DONE(?): Set five major targets for health system, including for wait times and cancer treatment.

As per National Party policy from October, those five major targets have been decided upon and include shorter stays in emergency rooms and cancer treatment. But so far, there haven’t been any moves to implement them, though the government has reiterated its intention to do so. Throughout the campaign and during his time in office, Luxon has repeatedly named “better healthcare” as one of his top priorities.

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Introduce legislation to disestablish the Māori Health Authority. 

There’s been no legislation so far, but it’s very unlikely the coalition would miss doing this in its first 100 days. Disestablishing the Māori Health Authority was a core policy from all three coalition parties, and achieving this policy only involves “introducing” legislation, not necessarily passing it, within the first 100 days. A Waitangi Tribunal hearing of a claim trying to stop  the proposal – set down for February 29 – could hold this up.

  • DONE: Take first steps to extend free breast cancer screening to those aged up to 74.

Announced last week, health minister Shane Reti said the government had now “met with officials and discussed what is needed in order for the screening to be extended”.

According to Reti, the plan will mean women will be eligible for an average of two to three extra mammograms once the programme is fully implemented, and around 120,000 additional women will be eligible for screening every two years. 

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Repeal amendments to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 and regulations

This came out of nowhere when the coalition was formed last year – and despite all the headlines, there hasn’t been any movement on it just yet. The government may work to avoid publicising this move when it does happen. 

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Allow the sale of cold medication containing pseudoephedrine.

We’re nearly there: this week saw the Act-backed bill introduced to parliament and it will soon be checked off the list. It won’t, however, be until next year that you’ll be able to pick up any pseudoephedrine products from your local pharmacy. 

  • TO BE COMPLETED: Begin work to repeal the Therapeutics Products Act 2023.
  • TO BE COMPLETED: Establish a priority one category on the social housing waitlist to move families out of emergency housing into permanent homes more quickly.
  • DONE: Commission an independent review into Kāinga Ora’s financial situation, procurement, and asset management.

Former prime minister Sir Bill English was brought in to lead this forthcoming review.

And that’s it. With 28 items checked off, and, by our count, 21 still to go. It’s unclear when Luxon considers his government’s first 100 days officially complete but it’ll be sometime in the next three weeks, and they’ll be busy weeks at that.

Keep going!