Fifth National Government of New Zealand

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John Key, MP, Prime Minister of New Zealand and leader of the National Party.

The Fifth National Government of New Zealand is the current government of New Zealand, taking office on 19 November 2008. It is led by Prime Minister John Key.

After the 2008 general election the National Party and its allies were able to form a government, taking over from Helen Clark's Fifth Labour Government. It was subsequently reformed after the 2011 general election with a reduced number of seats. The Government has confidence and supply agreements with the Act, United Future and Māori Parties, which gives the Government a significant majority on major legislation. The National Party also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Green Party after the 2008 election, but lapsed and not renewed in 2011.

Significant policies[edit]

Economic[edit]

The Government was elected in the context of the late 2000s recession.

  • The Fifth Labour Government's Emissions Trading Scheme was delayed and the Emissions Trading Scheme Review Committee was set up to review the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme[1] in accordance with the coalition agreement with the ACT Party.[2] In November 2009, an amended version of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme was adopted.[3]
  • Personal tax cuts, reducing taxes on all income; the top personal tax rate was lowered from 39% to 38% and then 33%.[4]
  • Increased GST from 12.5% to 15% in October 2010.
  • Increased the minimum wage from $12.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour in its first term, and to $14.25 in its second term.[5] This represents a nominal 3.1% average annual increase, significantly lower than the previous government's nominal 7.9% annual average increase.
  • Suspended payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.
  • Introduced the nine-day working fortnight for businesses who were considering laying off staff.
  • Capped the minimum employers' contributions to KiwiSaver at 2%, the amount was due to increase to 4% by 2011. Employees now have the option to contribute as little as 2% of their income to KiwiSaver where previously the smallest contribution amount was 4%. The minimum employee and minimum employer contributions were raised to 3% in April 2013.
  • Introduced the "mixed ownership model" plan, in which the Government planned to reduce its share in Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy from 100% to 51% and Air New Zealand from 74% to 51%, and sell off the remainder. The plans to sell down Solid Energy were later axed due to the company's poor financial position. A citizens-initiated referendum on the sell-downs returned a 67.3% vote in opposition (on a turnout of 45.1%).

Constitution[edit]

Social policy[edit]

  • Introduced the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008 (the "90-day working bill") in December 2008 which allowed employers with less than 20 staff to dismiss an employee within the first 90 days of employment for no particular reason.[9] In 2010 the bill was extended to all employers.
  • Allowed employees to cash in their fourth week of annual leave, employees can now take 3 weeks holiday and be paid for the fourth while still working.[10] The fourth week of annual leave was introduced by the previous government.
  • A lifetime limit on student loans was introduced: if a student has studied more than 7 EFTS within their lifetime the student can no longer take out any further loans. Students receiving New Zealand Superannuation Fund payments or Veterans Pension can no longer receive the Student Allowance at the same time. Students are now required to pass more than half of their studies each year to receive a Student Loan or Allowance the following year, previously this requirement only affected the Student Allowance.

National identity[edit]

  • Restored titles ('Sir' and 'Dame') in the New Zealand honours system.[11]
  • Officially ended appointments to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, which would have meant that no new designations of "The Right Honourable" would be made, and that instead minsters will be known simply as "The Honorable".[12] However on 2 August 2010 it was announced by the Queen of New Zealand that those appointed to offices of Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker, and Chief Justice would be given the title "The Right Honourable" for life, "to preserve an important mark of distinction for the holder's of the nation's highest public offices".[13] Prime Minister John Key said "he appreciated the title" and also stated "Her Majesty believes it is appropriate also to acknowledge the service of the Governor-General, the Queen's representative in New Zealand, the Speaker, the highest officer in the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice, the head of the judicial branch of government".[14]

Education[edit]

  • Introduction of National Standards for primary and intermediate school children.
  • Planned to change teacher to student ratios in the 2012 Budget, but withdrew two weeks later due to miscalculations regarding the effect of changes on intermediate schools and public opposition.[15]
  • Removal of all student allowances for postgraduate study at University.

Local government[edit]

In 2009 and 2010, the Government merged four city councils, three district councils and the Auckland Regional Council into one unitary "Super City". The Government's action differed from the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.[16]

In March 2010, the Government removed the Environment Canterbury's Councillors and replaced them with appointed commissioners. The elections in 2010 of Environment Canterbury councillors which were pending in 2013 were postponed to ensure a Water Management Plan for Canterbury would be created.[17]

Health[edit]

  • Increased amounts of elective surgery[18]

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

The 2008 election saw the Fifth National Government elected to power with 44.93 per cent of the popular vote, ending nine years of Labour government. National formed a minority government with confidence-and-supply support from the ACT, United Future and Māori parties. The Governor-General swore Key in as New Zealand's 38th Prime Minister on 19 November 2008.

2011 election[edit]

The 2011 election saw the Fifth National Government reform again with National in government with confidence-and-supply from the ACT, United Future and Maori parties, but with a reduced share of the votes and share of the seats in the House of Representatives.

The National Party increased its share of the party vote to 47.3 percent, but only increased one seat to 59 due to a reduced wasted vote (down to 3.4 percent from 6.5 percent in 2008), largely stemmed from the return of the New Zealand First party to Parliament after a one term absence. National's increased share of votes however largely came at the expense of other support parties, which saw decreases in vote share and seats. ACT only gained a third of its 2008 vote with 1.07 percent, reducing its seats from five to just one, while the defection of Hone Harawira to form the Mana Party saw the Maori Party's share of vote split, reducing the party to 1.43 percent and reducing the number of seats to three. The United Future Party saw its party vote drop by a quarter to 0.60 percent, but retained its single seat. The reformed Government therefore held 50.41 percent of the party vote and 64 of the 121 seats in Parliament.

Electoral results[edit]

The following table shows the total votes* for National, plus parties supporting the National-led government. For more details of electoral results, see the relevant election articles.

Election Parliament Seats* Total votes* Percentage Gain/loss Seats won* Change Majority
2008 49th 122 1,215,371 51.84% - 69 - 7
2011 50th 121 1,127,952 50.41% -1.43% 64 -5 3

* 'Votes' means party votes only. 'Seats' means both list and electorate seats.

Prime Minister[edit]

John Key has been Prime Minister since the government was elected in the 2008 elections.

Cabinet Ministers[edit]

Main article: New Zealand Cabinet
Portfolio Minister Term(s)
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English 2008–
Minister of Finance
Minister of Infrastructure 2008–2011
Minister for Economic Development Gerry Brownlee 2008–2011
Steven Joyce 2011–
Minister of Justice Simon Power 2008–2011
Judith Collins 2011–
Minister of Health Tony Ryall 2008–
Minister for the Environment Nick Smith 2008–2012
Amy Adams 2012–
Minister of Police Judith Collins 2008–2011
Anne Tolley 2011–
Minister of Education Anne Tolley 2008–2011
Hekia Parata, Lady Gardiner 2011–
Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson 2008–
Minister of Agriculture David Carter 2008–2011
Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully 2008–
Minister of Trade Tim Groser 2008–
Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp 2008–2011
Jonathan Coleman 2011–
Minister of Transport Steven Joyce 2008–2011
Gerry Brownlee 2011–
Minister for Courts Georgina te Heuheu 2008–2011
Chester Borrows 2011–
Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett 2008–
Minister of Fisheries Phil Heatley 2008–2011
Minister for Ethnic Affairs Pansy Wong 2008–2010
Hekia Parata, Lady Gardiner 2011–2011
Judith Collins 2011–
Minister of Immigration Jonathan Coleman 2008–
Nathan Guy 2011-
Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson 2008–2013
Simon Bridges 2013–
Minister of Internal Affairs Amy Adams 2011–2012
Chris Tremain 2012–
Minister for Primary Industries David Carter 2011–2013
Nathan Guy 2013–

Ministers outside Cabinet[edit]

Ministry Minister Term(s)
Minister of Customs Maurice Williamson 2008–
Minister of Internal Affairs Richard Worth 2008 – June 2009
Nathan Guy June 2009 – 2011
Minister of Civil Defence John Carter 2008 – July 2011
Craig Foss July 2011 – December 2011
Chris Tremain

Nikki Kaye

December 2011 –

February 2013 –

Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide 2008–2011
Minister of Consumer Affairs Heather Roy 2008–2010
John Boscawen 2010 – May 2011
Chris Tremain 2011–
Minister of Māori Affairs Pita Sharples 2008–
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Tariana Turia 2008–2011
Jo Goodhew 2011–
Minister of Revenue Peter Dunne

Todd McClay

2008– 2013

2013-

References[edit]

  1. ^ Review of the Emissions Trading Scheme and related matters. I.23A. New Zealand Parliament. 31 August 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2009 
  2. ^ Fleming, Grant (16 November 2008). "Emissions trading scheme up for review under Act deal". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Hon Dr Nick Smith (25 November 2009). "Balanced new law important step on climate change". New Zealand Government Press Release. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  4. ^ Trevett, Claire (19 March 2009). "Spend tax cut or give it to the needy: PM". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Can you survive on the minimum wage in NZ?". The New Zealand Herald. 27 January 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  6. ^ Trevett, Claire (18 February 2009). "Unpopular electoral finance law fades into night". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Governor-General Bill First Reading". Parliament of New Zealand. Retrieved 25 July 2010. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Monarchy debate off-topic in constitutional review". TVNZ. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  9. ^ Trevett, Claire (12 December 2008). "90-day bill passes first test under heavy fire". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Gower, Patrick (22 March 2009). "Govt to let employers buy back holidays". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Titles of Dames, Knights to be restored– Key". The New Zealand Herald. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "Honours Q and A". Beehive. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  13. ^ "Use of the title 'The Right Honourable' in New Zealand, 2 August 2010". The Queen's Printer. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  14. ^ "Queen requests officials become lifelong 'Right Honourables'". NZ Herald News. 3 August 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Trevett, Claire (7 June 2012). "Relief over class size backdown". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  16. ^ "Royal Commission on Auckland Governance". The New Zealand Herald. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "ECan council canned in favour of commissioners". TVNZ. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  18. ^ "Electives may cut emergencies". The New Zealand Herald. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 

External links[edit]