20 Oct 2017

What can young people expect from a Labour-NZ First coalition?

11:02 am on 20 October 2017

Time will tell.


Winston Peters, Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw.

Winston Peters, Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw. Photo: Image: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Winston Peters has made his choice and now the country must live with it.

The New Zealand First leader yesterday plucked for a coalition with the Labour Party, with confidence and supply from the Greens, dashing the dreams of the rural-adjacent National leader, Bill English.

Much of the past two weeks has been taken up by policy discussions, the results of which won’t be made apparent for days, weeks and even months.

Associate Professor in politics at the University of Auckland, Jennifer Curtin, says negotiations would have been relatively general.

“Rather than whole policies, there will probably be priorities and NZ First will be wanting signature items as policy wins - that they can say are a result of their party being in government.”

She says we may not know what many of those priorities are until next May: “We would expect at least one New Zealand First policy to be timed for early release ... new big ticket items might be announced but not implemented until after the budget.”

We revisited some of the promises made by Labour, NZ First and the Green Party during the campaign. We looked at each party’s policies in five key areas that will most impact rangatahi.


Hands up at the Victoria University Mayoral debate when asked if they will vote in the local elections

Hands up at the Victoria University Mayoral debate when asked if they will vote in the local elections Photo: Unknown

Labour and New Zealand First both made similar pledges in terms of tertiary education.

The former is promising a gradual rollout of three years’ free tertiary education - its biggest sweetener for young people.

NZ First is also promising free tertiary education, but only on the condition students remain and work in New Zealand for each year they study.

The Green Party, while backing Labour’s free tertiary education pledge, wants to make all postgraduate students eligible for student allowances. It also wants to increase all student allowances by 20 percent, and make buses and trains free off-peak for students and apprentices.

NZ First has pledged a universal living allowance that’s not means-tested, and access to the full accommodation supplement for all full-time students.

The Green Party has pushed hard for universal te reo Māori in all public schools, something Labour threw its support behind later in the campaign. The Greens want to ensure all school children are able to learn te reo Māori at school by 2030.

Winston Peters has previously criticised the use of te reo Māori in Parliament.


NZ First wants to overhaul the youth justice system.

The party wants to reverse National’s raising of the youth justice age from 17 to 18, something Labour supported. This is the age young offenders are dealt with in the Youth Court.

It also wants to require greater parental responsibility for young offenders and introduce a demerit points system.

One of Labour’s major justice policies is promising to decriminalise abortion, something National has opposed.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said in a leader’s debate: “I accept there will be people out there who will disagree with abortion, and I want them to have that as their right, but I also want women who want access to have it as their right too.”

The Greens have also backed decriminalising abortion for years. NZ First says abortions should be safe, legal and rare. It wants the public to decide on decriminalisation in a referendum.

The Greens also want Māori tikanga and te reo programmes in prisons and youth justice centres.


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Photo: Illustration: 123rf

Improving mental health services is a major area of focus for both Labour and the Green Party.

Labour has set itself the target of initiating a review of mental health and addiction services in its first 100 days. It also wants to extend health services in all public secondary schools.

The Green Party wants to introduce free counselling for under 25s, and work towards extending this to all adults. It also wants to increase funding for youth mental health services by $263 million a year.

Most importantly, it wants to initiate a mental health inquiry and re-establish the Mental Health Commission.

NZ First has committed to setting a suicide reduction target. It also says an inquiry into mental health is urgently needed, the state of which it says is “appalling”.


Metiria Turei may be gone, but the Greens’ focus on improving the lives of beneficiaries remains.

The party wants to increase all benefits by 20 percent and boost Working For Families. It has pledged that anyone receiving Jobseeker support will be $42.20 better off every week.

It also wants to extend the adult minimum wage to 16 and 17-year-olds and introduce an emergency unemployment benefit for students over the summer holidays.

Labour has targeted eradicating child poverty in a big way. It wants to set a child poverty reduction target and improve legislation for the wellbeing of children.

It also wants to improve the support for solo parents and introduce a Dole for Apprenticeships scheme that will encourage young people to work by paying the equivalent of the unemployment benefit to employers who take on an apprentice.

NZ First wants to do something similar by introducing wage subsidies for employers in rural areas to help people to get off benefits.

The party has pledged to increase funding to Women's Refuge and similar organisations, and increase the number of Teen Parents Units, which help young mothers remain in study.

NZ First wants to raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour over the next three years. Both Labour and the Greens have pledged to raise the minimum wage immediately - Labour to $16.50 and the Greens to $18.


A dodgy abode in Auckland.

A dodgy abode in Auckland. Photo: Mark/Flickr

The Labour Party has set a target of building 100,000 affordable homes over 10 years, half of which will be in Auckland. Standalone houses in Auckland will cost $500,000 to $600,000, and apartments and townhomes will cost less than $500,000.

The Greens have gone after dodgy landlords. They want to implement a landlord register and strengthen renters’ rights by setting up a national tenancy advocacy coordination office.

The party also wants to introduce a mandatory rental warrant of fitness and require landlords to put aside a maintenance bond to pay for repairs and upkeep.

NZ First’s policy is to help first home buyers by providing affordable residential sections under long term low interest sale and purchase agreements of up to 25 years.


NZ First wants to introduce driver license training for every secondary school student.

The party also wants to end Whanau Ora and redirect resources into other programmes for Māori.

Labour has set a target of making all rivers swimmable within a generation. It says young unemployed people will be offered jobs to clear up waterways.

The Greens want to change the Local Government Act to require councils to employ youth advocates.