Many Labour MPs will be packing up their offices this week after finding themselves out of a job following the election.
Now attention is turning to which of the policies they implemented over the past six years might also be following them out the door.
National and ACT are aligned on reversing several of Labour’s policies, but not all of them and not to the same degree.
With coalition talks about to begin on forming the next government, some policy concessions are likely on the cards. If National and ACT also wind up needing to bring New Zealand First into the fold, those concessions could take an even more interesting turn.
So, which of Labour’s policies are at risk of being axed?
The creation of Te Aka Whai Ora / the Māori Health Authority
Labour enacted a major overhaul of New Zealand’s health system during its time in government, scrapping the district health board (DHB) system and creating Te Whatu Ora.
It also saw the formation of Te Aka Whai Ora, otherwise known as the Māori Health Authority.
National, ACT and New Zealand First have all pledged to abolish it.
Removing the $5 prescription fee
Community pharmacies had campaigned for an end to the $5 co-payment before the Budget, saying they saw patients having to choose between eating and taking medicines or having to cherry-pick which medicines to get.
But National pledged to return the $5 charge before the election, with deputy leader Nicola Willis telling Stuff soon after the Budget the free prescriptions policy was a “nice to have but should not be the priority”.
National has said people on low incomes and those on superannuation will still get free prescriptions. It said the total amount any family would pay for prescriptions each year would be capped at $100.
Labour has faced much controversy over its Three Waters project and now it is almost certain to be ditched, with National previously committing to scrapping it within 100 days of being elected.
Extending the bright-line test
The Labour Government extended the bright-line test to 10 years in 2021.
This bright-line rule means people selling a residential property they have owned for less than 10 years may have to pay tax on any gain on that sale. The rule doesn’t apply to properties bought before October 1, 2015.
Prior to the election, National said it would reduce the bright-line test to two years instead of 10. ACT has said it wants to scrap the bright-line test completely, which it said was “a stealth capital gains tax introduced by National".
Banning foreign home buyers
The Labour Government instigated a ban on foreign buyers of residential properties in 2018.
National has said it will overturn this ban for some houses. It said it planned to introduce a 15% foreign buyer tax on the purchase of homes worth more than $2 million.
Meanwhile, New Zealand First said its stance on banning non-resident foreign buyers from the housing market had not changed. It remains to be seen if this issue comes up in any potential talks between National and New Zealand First.
Banning no-cause evictions from rentals
Labour introduced a raft of policies for renters and rental properties during its time in government.
These included banning no-cause evictions and introducing rules that allowed fixed-term tenancies to roll into periodic tenancies.
National has said it will re-introduce no-cause evictions and end the automatic rollovers of fixed-term tenancies. Party spokesperson Chris Bishop said Labour’s policies were “discouraging landlords from offering their properties up for rent”.
The Labour Government’s move to eliminate interest rate deductions for landlords is also now on the line, with National, ACT and New Zealand First all pledging to restore interest deductibility.
Cheaper public transport
The Labour Government made public transport free for those under 13 and introduced half-price fares for people aged 13-24 in its Budget earlier this year.
National has pledged to end the funding for both of those measures, saying the system “was badly designed and difficult to implement nationwide”.
Nicola Willis added that National did want to see other concessions, like those for superannuitants and tertiary students, continue.
The Clean Car Discount
Labour introduced the Clean Car Discount in 2021. It was designed to give buyers of low emission vehicles a discount, while buyers of newly registered higher emission vehicles faced a fee.
Both National and ACT have said they would scrap the programme if elected.
There has been a steady increase in the number of electric vehicles registered in New Zealand since the Clean Car Discount was introduced, however the Motor Trade Association told 1News it believed that increase would likely have happened, with or without the rebate.
Repealing the 'three strikes' law
The Sentencing and Parole Act of 2010 had imposed a mandatory prison sentence of seven years for people who committed a third “strike” or violent offence.
The Labour Government repealed this act, saying it meant judges couldn’t account for the seriousness or circumstances of offending when sentencing people.
Then-Justice Minister Kiri Allan said: “The High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have found sentences imposed under the regime have breached the Bill of Rights Act.”
National and ACT have both said they want to bring the three strikes rule back. New Zealand First blocked Labour’s plans to ditch the law when the two parties were in a coalition, so would likely be on board for this, too.
The Winter Energy Payment
Labour introduced the Winter Energy Payment during its first term in government.
The extra payment is automatically given to all people on superannuation, a main benefit or a veteran’s pension to help with the costs of heating their homes during winter.
ACT wants to means test the payment so it only goes to beneficiaries and over-65s with a community services card.
ACT Party leader David Seymour said doing so would mean those who need the extra support get it, “while the retired couple who might put it towards a holiday in Fiji won’t”.
Other Labour policies potentially facing the scrap heap:
- Twenty hours free ECE for two-year-olds — this was due to begin next year, however National said it would get rid of this and instead offer families a tax credit.
- Increased annual sick leave from five to 10 days — ACT has said it wants to revert to five days of mandatory sick leave.
- Speed limit changes on our roads — National said last month it would spend $30 million to reverse Labour’s speed limit reductions.
- The Matariki public holiday — ACT has said it wants to either get rid of the new-ish Matariki public holiday or remove one of the other public holidays. This is not a stance currently shared by National.
With special votes left to be counted, what the incoming government looks like is still undecided.
Christopher Luxon will become the next Prime Minister of New Zealand.
“History, culture, family. Loyalty.”