The major announcements from Prime Minister Chris Hipkins' big policy refocus

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has begun chucking policies on the bonfire in an effort to refocus his Government on the cost of living crisis.

The ill-fated TVNZ-RNZ merger has finally hit the flames, and the Government has given its hate speech agenda a real heave, throwing that work over to the Law Commission.

A pause has been put on Finance Minister Grant Robertson's proposed income insurance scheme, where people would receive 80 percent of their wages if they were laid off.

To tackle the cost of living, the Government is hiking the minimum wage to match inflation. It'll go up $1.50 to $22.70 per hour on April 1.

Captain of the Cabinet. Hipkins was in the chief's chair at Cabinet's meeting on Wednesday - just the second time in the top role. 

Nice and comfortable at the head of the round table, Hipkins got down to business - Chippy the chopper went on a policy purge.

"We would rather do a smaller number of things, do them more thoroughly and communicate better about them," Hipkins said.

As expected, the great media matrimony, the TVNZ-RNZ merger is headed for splitsville - the marriage is off. 

Asked how much money was wasted on it, Hipkins said he didn't have a final figure. 

"Because the total savings generated by the decision we have taken will depend on what reinvestment decisions we make."

Reinvestment meaning RNZ and NZ on Air will get funding boosts. But before the entities even came close to merging, money was flowing out the door just to make it happen.

That's all now a sunk cost. 

"There has been investment into it up until now. When you refocus Government priorities, yes, that does mean some of the investment that's already been made won't realise the benefits that were intended."

The new PM's penny-pinching exercise meant Grant Robertson had to say peace out to his pet project - the income insurance scheme - an ACC-style programme for jobs. Workers would've paid a levy and received up to 80 percent of their wage if they get the sack. 

National called it a jobs tax and it's been axed until the economy's back on track. 

"We have to recognise that there isn't the public support for this scheme at the moment and people want to see us very much focussed on getting through the current economic situation we are in at the moment."

A biofuels mandate evaporated, with fuel companies will no longer forced to produce sustainable energy. But there's no idea of the climate impact of that one. 

"A biofuels mandate will increase the price of fuel, and given the pressure on households, that is not something I am prepared to do," said Hipkins.

National's Christopher Luxon said the clear out is a clear sign Labour's been out to lunch.

"Instead, what has the last six years of this Government been about? It was 'let's do this', then it's 'let's not do this'. Instead, we have wasted huge amounts of time, money and effort."

While it was costing next to nothing, hate speech reforms have been torn up in the name of cost of living too.

Asked if that was just an excuse to get a politically unpalatable policy off the Government's plate, Hipkins said: "It consumes time and energy and at the moment we need to have our time and energy focussed on those issues I've set out as priorities."

But truly in the name of cushioning the cost of living crisis, the Government has made the largest ever increase to the minimum wage, up $1.50 to $22.70 per hour to help those doing it the toughest.

"They make impossible trade-offs between food and medical care, dry homes and clothing for their children, these families need our support now more than ever," said Hipkins. 

In an election year, Labour needs support now more than ever too. 

Jenna Lynch Analysis

Wednesday wasn't really about cost savings - it was about saving energy and saving political captial.

Hipkins' rough estimate was that he's saved hundreds of millions, but he needs to find billions - this was more about ditching the deadwood and the deadweight.

He has acknowledged that because the Government had tried to do too much too quickly it  failed to communicate these policies, and failed to get public buy-in or public approval for them. That's why they had to go. It was going to be too hard and take too much energy to save them.

The most glaring example of the failure of communication is Three Waters - that wasn't on the chopping block on Wednesday.

But the new Local Government Minister has been directed to report back to Cabinet with options on refocussing the reforms. Sounds like they might take a month or so to mull it over.