It is coming up to the half way mark in this second term of the National-led Government of Prime Minister John Key. In this article and the next one I will be writing a report card for the Opposition and the Government. Today’s article examines the performance of the Labour-led Opposition in the 50th New Zealand Parliament. The Opposition report card will grade the stand out Members of Parliament from the Opposition on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being outstanding).
David Shearer: Leader of Labour/Leader of the Opposition
A disappointment to be frankly honest. He has had a few bright moments, such as the introduction of the Labour/Green energy policy and can pride himself on being leader of Labour on the day Louisa Wall’s Same Sex Marraige Bill passed its third reading, but for his efforts in the House of Representatives on a day to day basis he has come across as too gentlemanly, lacking conviction and seemingly unable to land any big hits. At this rate Labour are doomed to another term on the Opposition benches.
Winston Peters: Leader New Zealand First
A wily and cunning Member of Parliament. Despite Wogistan and the departure of Brendan Horan, Winston can be proud of what his Party has achieved in Parliament, though his caucus get little exposure in the media. His workload and that of his party is impressive. Getting their messages into the media and continuing the good work of the last 4 years are the biggest priorities for Mr Peters and his party.
Russel Norman/Metiria Turei: Co-leaders Green Party
This duo continue to show promise and it is clear that the party they lead has a strong healthy future, that at some point will eventually see them hold high office in New Zealand. Despite their performance, they are lacking someone who performs well on Foreign Policy, which has largely disappeared from their repertoire since Keith Locke retired. But with young and talented M.P.’s like Gareth Hughes and Julie-Anne Genter under their wing, it would be foolish to write off a Norman/Turei Green Party as a coalition partner in a future centre-left Government.
Hone Harawira: Leader of Mana
A one man band. Harawira’s Party’s reputation as being somewhat rowdy and ill-disciplined is unfortunately deserved, which will hinder him and his party’s prospects in the future. Although he has an interesting array of people wanting to stand under the Mana Party banner, the past records of people like John Minto may count against the party. That said, he has a following that is likely to keep him in Parliament for at least another term.
Jacinda Ardern: Labour M.P.
One of the better performers in Labour, Jacinda has grown into the spokesperson role for Social Development and is showing greater maturity as an M.P. She has been able to land hits on the Minister of Social Development and poses a credible threat to the incumbent Nikki Kaye (National M.P. for Auckland Central)at the election. Needs to stay on top of this portfolio and be prepared to make a significant policy statement on it.
Brendan Horan: Independent M.P. (ex-New Zealand First)
A likeable guy personally, Brendan Horan’s departure came as a surprise to me initially. As a list M.P. he is reliant on either forming a party and getting 5% of the vote at the next election or winning the Tauranga electorate seat off National Party M.P. and Minister for Energy and Resources Simon Bridges. Thus far, his major contribution as an independent M.P. has been to challenge the Crown Minerals Act Amendment Bill.
Gareth Hughes: Green Party M.P.
Young and popular in the Green Party, Gareth has been something of a revelation to me with his performance in Parliament attacking the Government on energy and resource management issues. He has performed creditably in handling the quite weighty issues of energy supply and the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill. On current performance Mr Hughes may be Ministerial material in any centre-left Government where the Greens have a major hand.
Tracey Martin: New Zealand First M.P.
A party stalwart, whose Mother was secretary for many years, Tracey Martin has gone from strength to strength. Sitting at #2 on the Party list and handling the weighty education portfolio, she has shown her class in Parliament several times. Her relative youth, ability to get on well with youth and good grounding in education bodes well for the future.
Tomorrow is the turn of the Government.