One Question Quiz
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 BulletinApril 3, 2024

Taking decisions and raising the energy: the government’s new action plan

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

With the novelty factor of a 100-day plan expended, the prime minister has once again moved to align government with familiar territory, 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.

Taking decisions and raising the energy

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon released the government’s new priority list yesterday, aligning it with a more familiar quarterly rhythm rather than the political 100-day timeline. The novelty of the “next xx-day plan” routine has likely worn off. It is clear this is the rhythm of the new government — a tidy device to create a sense of regular short-term momentum in clear contrast with the previous government, which also underscores Luxon’s corporate credentials. There are 36 actions, all due to be completed by June 30, which marks the end of the financial year for parliament. The Herald’s Derek Cheng has the most astute analysis to date (paywalled), noting half of the items could be easy ticks or mere formalities. Others involve “taking decisions” on things already fixed in place by coalition agreements. In fresh new language, possibly designed to generate the exact pick-up it’s getting (guilty), number 18 on the list is “Raise the energy New Zealand brings to key relationships through international engagements”.

‘Bloat begins at the Beehive’

The set pieces are obviously delivering the Budget on May 30, making good on the tax cut campaign promises and continuing to make cuts to the public service. Stuff’s Susan Edmunds takes a look at some of the year-on-year increases in public service roles this morning. It’s useful to have these comparisons rather than just raw numbers. It’s also useful to remember these are real people possibly losing jobs whose existence isn’t just rooted in perception about the public service in Wellington but attached to services across the country. This morning, Politik’s Richard Harman picks up research (paywalled) done by New Zealand Initiative research fellow Max Salmon that argues that public service bloat starts in the Beehive. Salmon’s study says that the more ministers a government has, the more it will spend and the more difficult it is to cut some bureaucratic functions. As Harman points out, despite “vows to cut waste from within the government, it has created seven new ministries and abolished only two left over from the Labour government.”

‘A country is not a company. A prime minister is not a CEO’ — Swarbrick

Green co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick has penned an opinion for the Herald this morning pushing back against the embrace of corporate-speak and managerial leadership styles. Swarbrick writes, “A country is not a company. A prime minister is not a CEO.” Two themes emerge, she says: “The first is that these bullet points wouldn’t even hold up in the corporate world: vague, immeasurable and untethered from reality and evidence as they are. The second is that the long-term costs of all of these decisions ultimately far, far outweigh the short-term benefit.”

Urgency will be used if required

Despite criticism of the government’s use of urgency, with more bills passed under urgency in its first 100 days than in any of the past five terms of parliament, Luxon didn’t hesitate to say urgency would still be used in the next quarter where appropriate. “There is a lot that we also want public consultation on and we want proper process around – which is important,” he said. The Herald’s Fran O’Sullivan (paywalled) suggests a short-term view of achievement would run counter to advice Luxon would receive from his mentor and former prime minister, Sir John Key, who O’Sullivan says “strongly believes a new prime minister should think about delivering a political change programme by taking a three-term view, not a three-year view.”

How to get yourself back on track

In case all this talk of action plans has you feeling motivated, The Spinoff’s Gabi Lardies has a guide to writing your own 90 or 100-day plan. She is 100% correct in pointing out that one of the main ways to feel accomplished is to add things you’ve already done or know you’re going to do. I hope my recommendation to read Gabi’s piece raises the energy I bring to key relationships (mine with you and mine with Gabi).

Keep going!