Political expert Bryce Edwards says policy changes by Chris Hipkins will give him momentum ahead of 2023 election

A political expert has heaped praise on Chris Hipkins for ditching a raft of unpopular Government policies on Wednesday, saying the new Prime Minister has listened to the public. 

Hipkins on Wednesday unveiled the first set of changes to the Government's policy agenda, including axing the TVNZ-RNZ merger, halting work on the social insurance scheme this term, putting the torch to the planned biofuels mandate and throwing hate speech legislation to the Law Commission.

The changes were an acknowledgement the Government has been trying to do "too much too fast", Hipkins said.

"This is the first and most significant set of decisions that reprioritises the Government agenda and sets out our new direction. It will help to provide greater bandwidth and resources for where [the] focus is needed most - the cost of living."

Political scientist Bryce Edwards told AM Early on Thursday the decisions announced by Hipkins were a "very smart, pragmatic move". 

"It really does differentiate his Government from the Jacinda Ardern Government that was failing last year. So Hipkins has just got rid of some distractions, some unpopular policies and I think it's going to be well-received by voters," Edwards told host Oriini Kaipara

"It looks like he's listened to the public. It looks like he's going to be focused more on things that actually matter to people like the cost of living, so I think this will give him momentum going forward, in order to get rid of some other unpopular elements to his program."

Last week's Newshub-Reid Research Poll showed Labour had seen a massive swing following the resignation of former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

Labour had risen to 38 percent, up a mighty 5.7 points. It commandeered most of that from National, which plunged back under Labour to 36.6 percent - down 4.1 points.

Political Scientist Bryce Edwards.
Political Scientist Bryce Edwards. Photo credit: AM

Edwards said the latest policy changes will resonate with the public. 

"It looks like he's listened, it looks like he's got rid of some of those pet projects that aren't resonating with the public and because he's combined getting rid of things with the minimum wage increase of a $1.50 an hour, is quite a substantial," he said.

"It kind of reiterates the fact that he's trying to be more focussed on the working class constituency that Labour used to be more associated with and really combating the cost of living crisis, which actually affect people's daily lives in a way that things like that are the RNZ/TVNZ merger didn't." 

Edwards was also critical of both Labour and National, with both parties not having many significant policies announced. 

"It's not very good for voters. We do need a contest of ideas, so if Hipkins and [Christopher] Luxon are just taking away policies and trying to have the small target approach where there's nothing to criticise them for, it leads to a very empty election year," Edwards said.

"Hipkins really does need to come up with some replacement policies. He needs to show he's not just getting rid of the embarrassing things, he's got something that is actually going to change New Zealand because Labour's been in power now for nearly six years and they were going to be a transformational Government. 

"So yesterday, Hipkins took away some of those bigger projects but what does Labour stand for now? They're not really transforming anything."

Watch the full interview with  Bryce Edwards above.