Six months in: The new Government's report card

Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern.
Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

Today marks six months into the new Government. Who's top of the class? Who needs to pull their socks up?

Newshub breaks it down.

Head Teacher: Jacinda Ardern 

Jacinda Ardern at Buckingham Palace during her CHOGM visit.
Jacinda Ardern at Buckingham Palace during her CHOGM visit. Photo credit: Getty

The head teacher has two jobs: keep the school in line and sell it to the wider world. 

On the global stage, Ardern shines. 

But back at home, her Government has faced a series of scandals. There were the poorly handled Young Labour sexual assault claims, a Deputy Prime Minister who keeps making Kremlin-adjacent comments and there was the weird case of Carol Hirschfeld's resignation from RNZ after meeting with Cabinet Minister Clare Curran.

But has her team been cracking on and transforming New Zealand? 

There were some immediate changes: the first year of tertiary education or training is now free, oil and gas exploration will eventually come to an end, Auckland Council will be able to introduce a fuel tax and there's an extra helping hand for parents with longer parental leave and a weekly baby payment. 

For almost everything else, it's hard to say how transformative this Government will be, because most issues have been relegated to reviews and working groups.

Bus Monitor: Winston Peters

Winston Peters - bus monitor.
Winston Peters - bus monitor. Photo credit: Newshub.

Our Deputy Prime Minister has quite a naughty streak. He's forced Ardern to do some contortions on Russia after saying he'd quite like a trade deal and saying the jury's out on who shot down flight MH17. 

But you get the feeling he really wants the coalition to work. 

That means while Jacinda Ardern has taken the wheel of the bus, he's popped on the monitor sash - keeping the kids in line and ensuring she can keep her eyes on the road. 

He leaps in to defend the Prime Minister and her Government on the regular and for the most part, he keeps his head down and leaves Shane Jones to run the NZ First party line. 

We've heard almost no complaints from him on immigration and he hasn't mentioned the Maori seats at all.

It's understandable - the last two times Peters formed a Government, New Zealand First was almost decimated. 

Class Clown: Shane Jones

Shane Jones - Class clown.
Shane Jones - Class clown. Photo credit: Newshub.

While Winston Peters is up the front of the bus, he's left a crucial seat vacant for Shane Jones to take: the hooligan down the back. 

Aside from spouting prose, Jones' favourite word appears to be billion. He shouts it every day. A BILLION trees. A BILLION dollars. 

He's also the kid in Government who pulls all the funny faces that make everyone giggle and distract from the Government's message

Like all class clowns, Jones' homework track record is not something to be proud of - there's been more than one example of this with his Regional Development fund.  

Also we've had a complaint from Air New Zealand he's been bullying them. 

But Ardern and Peters may have found something to keep Jones from disrupting the class too much. They sent him out to plant one of the BILLION trees he keeps banging on about the other day - no silly faces, no shouting, no bullying. Quite effective when he applies himself. 

Teacher's Pet: James Shaw

Teacher's pet - James Shaw.
Teacher's pet - James Shaw. Photo credit: Newshub.

James Shaw has been an impeccably behaved member of Team Government. 

As Minister of Climate Change, he's been handed one of Ms Ardern's pet portfolios. It's the issue she walked onto the steps of Parliament to take a petition on. It's the issue she dubbed the 'nuclear-free moment' of our generation. 

But has Shaw been a little too well behaved? He's in danger of blending in with Labour a little too smoothly. He's acting like he's in coalition with the Government. The benefit of his actual role - a confidence and supply partner - is that he can still distance himself from the Government and cause a bit of a stir. 

The Greens will need to get scrappy if they plan on getting any attention - or any credit. Our advice for the teacher's pet is to take a couple of tips from the class clown. Just don't land yourself in detention. 

In Detention: Clare Curran

In detention - Clare Curran.
In detention - Clare Curran. Photo credit: Newshub.

When the head teacher gives someone portfolios like Broadcasting and Open Government, there's a hidden message that comes with it. Keep your head down, do the mahi, and you might see yourself as the star pupil one day. 

Clare Curran clearly did not get the message. 

A sneaky coffee with Carol Hirschfeld unravelled any good work and saw her take a very public trip to the principal's office. 

She not only landed herself in trouble, but those who are supposed to be her friends too. 

Having your officials marched to Parliament to correct the record and sit in the naughty corner with you is a bad look for any minister - but especially one who shouldn't be in the spotlight.

The Caretaker: David Parker

The caretaker - David Parker.
The caretaker - David Parker. Photo credit: Newshub.

While he's not front and centre of the class, the school wouldn't run without David Parker. He's a behind-the-scenes operator and while a lot of his work may go unnoticed, it would certainly be noticeable if he wasn't around. 

This Minister swung straight into things with the CPTPP, which is really just the TPP with a new letterhead. He's quietly worked on the America's Cup, the ban on foreign investors and the Hit and Run inquiry. 

He's reliable, hard-working and he fronts a good press conference. 

That's why he's been given the roles of Attorney-General, Minister for Economic Development, Environment, Trade and Export Growth and Associate Minister of Finance.

The true test of whether Parker can keep the grounds looking good will come when he puts on his Environment Minister cap and has to tackle the water debate.

Star Pupil: Andrew Little

Star pupil - Andrew Little.
Star pupil - Andrew Little. Photo credit: Newshub.

When Andrew Little walked out of Pike River Mine and stopped to hug each of the grieving women he walked beside, it felt real. It was a gesture, a symbol, a cynic would say it was a political stunt; but Andrew Little, star pupil, gets that symbols and gestures matter.

And as with anyone at the top of the class, Little is doing a good job. 

He swiftly took steps to start updating New Zealand's abortion law (which could mean eventually taking it out of the Crimes Act, or scrapping the requirement of a sign-off from two doctors).

Rumour has it he's also fronting the Government's Waikeria Prison plans - a big ideological decision the Government needs to make on justice and prison. 

He may not have got the head teacher job he wanted, but he's proving himself anyway. 

Top Truant: Kelvin Davis

Top truant - Kelvin Davis.
Top truant - Kelvin Davis. Photo credit: Newshub.

Kelvin Davis had a lot to say about what's wrong with our prisons when he was in Opposition. He spoke out about the disproportionate number of Maori in our prisons and visited detainees on Australia's Christmas Island.

Now he's in charge of the portfolio, there's deathly silence. Where the bloody hell are ya, mate? He's yet to make any major - or minor - announcements.

He's also been pretty absent around the Parliamentary precinct - instead attending what seems like a six-month-long hui. 

That's important in his role managing Crown-Iwi relations, but Corrections is a meaty portfolio that Labour has made some significant promises around. 

Also, he's the deputy leader of the Labour party. 

It seems like Kelvin Davis might have too much on his plate so he's hanging out in Northland for some quiet time. 

Newshub.

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