By Chris Hipkins, Leader of the House and Education Minister
OPINION: At 2pm this Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered her start-of-the-year statement, setting out what the Coalition Government will deliver in 2019. This was the first meeting of Parliament for the year. It’s a big day for politics in Wellington, and for me personally, in my role as Leader of the House.
If you have spent the summer watching the White Ferns and the Black Caps, the PM’s statement might remind you of Ross Taylor or Suzie Bates striding out to the wicket, ready to smash the bowling to all corners of the ground.
Opening the batting, the captain of New Zealand’s team used her statement in the House to talk about what this Coalition Government is already delivering for New Zealanders.
She talked about how the economy is strong, with near-historic low unemployment, low inflation, rising wages, solid growth, and strong surpluses.
National brought an Australian coach to their caucus last week, so some underarm bowling from Simon was to be expected.
She talked about how the wellbeing of New Zealanders is improving due to raising the minimum wage, investing in health and education, and targeted supported such as the Families Package and the Winter Energy Payment.
And she talked of the future – what this year will hold. 2019 will be an important innings. It is to be year of taking action on the issues that will affect New Zealand in the long-term: child poverty, public transport, and climate change.
It was a match-winning performance.
But it wasn’t done alone. In a match like this, teamwork and confidence in your teammates are essential.
The Coalition Government has shown this from the start. It was there for all to see when Winston Peters walked to the wicket. He showed all his experience as he swatted away all the opposition had to offer.
James Shaw, co-captain of the Greens, followed, elegantly stroking the ball around while keeping a watchful eye on the weather.
Opening the bowling for National was Simon Bridges. The National Party brought in an Australian coach to their caucus last week, so some underarm bowling from Simon was to be expected.
They have yet to realise that the spectators want a more positive approach to the game, one that shows real belief in New Zealand and New Zealanders.
Besides, their eyes are off the ball. In the pavilion they are not talking about the game, but are in separate corners arguing about which one of them would make a better captain.
2019 will be the year of delivery for the Coalition Government.
We will continue putting real marks on the scoreboard: investing in our hospitals and schools and homes, fighting for pay equity, and providing a better future for our kids.
We will take action now to tackle the challenges of the future, and to make a positive difference to the lives of each and every New Zealander.
It’s going to be a busy and exciting year in the House.
Labour MP Chris Hipkins is Leader of the House and Education Minister.