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Prime minister Christopher Luxon has launched the government’s first quarterly plan.
Prime minister Christopher Luxon has launched the government’s first quarterly plan.

The BulletinMarch 1, 2024

What’s comes next after the 100 day plan is ticked off? Another one

Prime minister Christopher Luxon has launched the government’s first quarterly plan.
Prime minister Christopher Luxon has launched the government’s first quarterly plan.

It might not be named as such, but the PM’s executive leadership style is bringing a new rhythm to government, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Run a ball rate required before next Friday

Next Friday will mark the deadline for the items on the first 100-day plan to be complete. Stewart Sowman-Lund went through it recently to look at what had been ticked off. As noted at the time of release, some, like “begin work on delivering better public services and strengthening democracy”, are difficult to quantify. I have no idea what KPIs might apply there. Since Sowman-Lund’s check-in, more items have been ticked off. The Māori Health Authority was disestablished, and the smokefree laws were repealed. Expect more fast-paced action in the House next week. Parliament sits for three days next week, and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, a self-professed “cricket tragic”, used a run rate analogy to describe the pace required at his post-cabinet press conference this week, saying it was “basically a run a ball that we have to hit”. This morning, Tova O’Brien reports that the government will announce details next week of the priority one category on the social housing waitlist to move families out of emergency housing into permanent homes more quickly.

Leadership versus management

The notion of a 100-day plan isn’t unique to this government; the last Labour had one and then chased it in May last year by marking “100 days of Chippy”. It’s been described as an arbitrary and artificial milestone and a political “Hallmark Holiday” in the US, and more recently here as “bad governance” by Newstalk’s Jason Walls (paywalled). Writing about Luxon’s leadership style this week, Newsroom’s Tim Murphy notes, “He was always going to be a business school kind of politician” and is “revealing a prime ministerial approach that might be suited to the times.” Columnist Damien Grant isn’t into the managerial approach. Assessing Luxon’s State of the Nation speech, he wrote, “Addressing the real problems we face we face requires leadership. What Luxon is offering in his recent speech is management. The difference matters.” Danyl McLauchlan expresses a similar sentiment (paywalled) writing that success, in the face of all that ails us, would “call for genuine political courage instead of media posturing.”

Action plans for all

With the Budget looming on May 30 and ministerial bids being assembled, Luxon himself has said we can expect more of this “action plan” approach. “We’re going to move through our 100-day plan, and we’re going to move into a quarter two action plan, quarter three action plan, quarter four action plan,” he said at the post-cabinet press conference. That has risks, both in the level of transparency required to truly execute the approach and, as Murphy notes, “Ministers for whom this is, ahem, not their first rodeo, might feel they don’t need to be managed or calendar-watched. They can tire of the spotlight from the PM’s offices in the ninth floor of the Beehive. Some ministers might be found out, unable to keep the pace or handle the heat.”

Government could struggle to meet the surplus forecast

There is also the matter of the big promises and goals, like National promising a larger surplus and lower debt in its fiscal plan in September last year. Finance minister Nicola Willis has this week warned that the government could struggle to meet the surplus forecast for the 2027 year, blaming worsening economic conditions, which will cause multiple years of lower tax income. Chris Bishop’s reference to potentially sharing the GST take with councils in his big speech this week would cast concerns about lower tax takes in a whole new light.

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