The New Zealand’s New Neo-Authoritarian Coalition Government

Written By: - Date published: 2:36 pm, December 21st, 2023 - 20 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, democracy under attack, democratic participation - Tags: ,

The coalition government is already showing strong (and stable) anti-democratic tendencies. Democracy, by definition, is a collective and deliberative system of actions by the people, with the people, for the people. Ideologies and parties that favour and prioritise personal freedom and choice, and the corresponding one-size-fits-all attitude and approach, over anything and anybody else always have and always will have a strained relationship with the pluralistic foundational principles and aspects of democracy.

While some neo-authoritarians tout themselves as defenders of democracy, in reality they exploit the system to police every area of their subjects’ lives and maintain their powerbase. In doing so they create a phantom democracy. What makes their behaviour so sinister is their ability to frame their agenda as a product of “freedom of choice”. For example, elections appear to be a legitimate expression of the people’s will, yet results are manipulated or even pre-determined by convoluted political frameworks.

People wanted Labour out. I get that. People were seduced by promises. I get that too. However, the NACTF coalition government still hasn’t found the money to pay for its over-hyped tax cuts. One would think that after the promise was first made on the campaign trail they would have been able to come up with a cunning plan by now. The ‘best’ so far is encouraging smokers to cough up [pun intended] an extra billion or so. But this is not nearly enough. So, show us the money! And despite many repeated promises, the Mini-Budget was a charade of smoke & mirrors, after desperate last minute attempts to downplay it. It was so predictable, so sad, and so shambolic.

The coalition government claims that because they (i.e. the three parties) campaigned on things, they don’t have to consult with anybody on anything or take advice from anybody on anything. The people have spoken; we have a mandate; end of. First, this was somewhat implicit and quite possibly irrelevant to people except a very few. For example, the discarding of the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) aka Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIA) (covered here and here).

Then it became more obvious, or blatant rather, when Brooke van Velden attempted to redefine the meaning of consultation (covered here and here).

The contempt for due process and disregard for its duty & responsibility is further emphasised by the refusal of the coalition government to consult with the main stakeholders, and its Treaty partner, on the scrapping of Te Aka Whai Ora – Māori Health Authority (covered here and here).

In the eyes of the coalition government, this all may seem justified and ‘pretty legal’. After all, they chose to rush through a lot of stuff before people (and journalists) are going on a much-needed break, and avoid having to do any of it in the New Year – people do have short memories.

However, the pattern that always was going to emerge is an authoritarian streak covered in a corporate managerial style from the 80s, underscoring its true regressive credentials. This coalition government sees consultation and oversight in general in the affairs of some elected officials and office-holders as an evil handbrake that must be released – the Minister for Regulation is a deliberate misnomer, as he’s all about deregulation but he’s not honest and brave enough to don that titular mantle. It has already convinced enough people, through persuasive rhetoric and demagoguery, and it shows all the signs of continuing with this campaigning approach for as long as its term will last, likely because they don’t know any better – performative leadership and management is the name for it.

All of this [councils must redraw those plans to include 10 years of investment in water assets, many of which are coming up for new resource consents and expensive renewals] adds up to big rewrites of council plans and longterm budgets. So Simeon Brown has told them they don’t have to reconsult on the changes, they needn’t get their consultation documents audited, and they have an extra three months to adopt their new plans. [behind subscription wall]

You would think that the Auditor-General will be twiddling thumbs for the next wee while [I don’t believe this coalition will last the full distance], but you might be wrong. Depending on the coalition’s ideology and political bias, it will weaponise the AG’s reports and findings in a war of self-entitlement, self-righteousness, and self-serving personal advancement ahead of others – shine the light on one spot and the background goes black. Such is the nature of this coalition government that embodies all and everything I do not support and wish upon others and this country.

20 comments on “The New Zealand’s New Neo-Authoritarian Coalition Government ”

  1. Just waiting for van Velden or Seymour, or Peters or Jones, or Luxon or Brown to suggest

    Arbeit macht frei

    should be displayed at the entrance to boot camps!

  2. Ghostwhowalks 2

    Good points

    The newsroom story quoted is now out of paywall ( its a few days thing)

    it also says , quoting "Martin Foo, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings"

    "If councils were barred from backstopping the new water council-owned organisations, those organisations will likely face higher financing costs and won’t be able to borrow from the NZ Local Government Funding Agency, complicating the task of bridging the infrastructure deficit.”

    Unfortunately the powers of the Minister of Internal Affairs/Local Government are similar to those of Henry VIII
    “18Responsibilities, powers, and duties of Minister
    (1)The responsibilities, powers, and duties conferred or imposed on the Minister of Internal Affairs by any of the Acts specified in Schedule 1, or by any regulations, rules, orders, or bylaws made under any of those Acts, must be exercised or performed by the Minister.
    (2)The Governor-General may, by Order in Council, amend Schedule 1 to add or delete any Act.

    • Incognito 2.1


      Yeah, Newsroom’s subscription wall really is about priority access, which is a little odd given the nature of the pieces.

  3. The new coalition have avoided examination and projections based on their "planning"…… perhaps they were mightily afraid much of their hasty removing of pillars could cause a collapse.?? Perhaps it has….

    People have stopped spending = less tax

    Small businesses have less custom = shaky credit with finance sector who become less keen on business risks and more keen on property.

    People a losing jobs = less tax = more benefit bills for government.

    Receipts for exports have dropped = less income for government.

    Large overseas bodies will not be impressed with their cavalier attitude to rules and agreements, and risks for NZ may raise our costs because of cancelled forward planning on climate and interpretation of the science.

    A Trump like attitude to the rule of law and judges. Ok, make the Attorney General KC and we will "look at" the Treaty, Waitangi Tribunal and appoint judges who agree with us… Oh and those in Public Service who wish to disagree… just leave.

    Perhaps Winston's posturing on a horse was less to do with a rodeo and more to do with the three amigos being cowboys?

    Some of the first three weeks has been a show of petty power, and those 3000? who will get a full tax cut, please use it wisely, as it will be the only tainted help from them.

    Case in point, take away dollars and give back cents = Maori Health recently.

    Answering media questions now is 2 or 3 answers then "Walk away". Written bland statements follow.

    False narratives abound, but call them out and you will be jumped.

    Case in point = Nicola Willis "finds savings of 7.5 billion" Savings? Playing shuffle board when she takes budgeted amounts, and scraps what was intended so she can begin to build her fund for landlords. (You still need 7.5 billion more Nicola!!)

    Cuts will be severe. Some friends came to dinner, and admitted they felt they had been conned and were shocked at the rapid thoughtless changes and will vote differently next time.

    • Obtrectator 3.1

      Just waiting for my s-i-l and her rabid near-Trumpian partner to complain about what the CoC are doing, and I'll be right there with "well, you voted for 'em and fund-raised for 'em!!" (both true).

    • Ghostwhowalks 3.2

      Most of Nicolas $7.5 bill savings – the largest one comes from a tax 'increase' for companies – the loss of depreciation on commercial buildings which is more than $2 bill over 4 years

      For some strange reason Parker re introduced it in 2020-21 tax year ( 1.5% straight line 2% diminishing value) after it was removed by Bill English in 2010. [The GST removal for fresh fruit and veg in labours election policy was to be funded from Labour removing the depreciation deduction ].

      'Fitout' which can be quite an expensive cost isnt affected. But I think Willis hasnt properly separated the ‘building and fitout’ from the possible extra income coming . Im certain landlords will move to make much as possible from the fitout exemption and Willis might only get around $1 bill over 4 years

    • Incognito 3.3

      This coalition government is avoiding scrutiny and accountability and they hide behind the election campaign (aka ‘mandate’). They have a libertarian attitude to having to answer to queries & criticisms from others, be it reporters, the opposition, or the public, and feel utterly entitled to rule as they see fit. And because they are in power this manifests as and in neo-authoritarian tendencies.

      At the same time, they’re also hollowing out the State from the inside by limiting its reach and influence in certain areas & directions. This shows their neo-liberal ideology.

      Combined, it makes for a bad cocktail that’s guaranteed to cost too much and give a bad hangover.

  4. Heather Grimwood 4

    The recent non-referrals to neither select committees nor debate feels alarmingly akin to dictatorship.

    Reasons for use of this practice at beginning of covid emergency ( to save thousands of lives and keep hospitals functioning ) bears no resemblance whatever to what has just happened in New Zealand.

    • Belladonna 4.1

      Did you feel the same about urgency when Labour used it at the end of 2022 in order to push through 3 waters (and, controversially, entrench it – before the latter was repealed)?

      I don't support urgency, in general – but especially not for new legislation – the select committee process adds a lot of value to the drafting of the law.

      There is an argument that the current programme of repeal isn't new legislation (it's reverting to the previous law). Therefore there is little for the select committee process to add.

      On balance, I think it's a bad choice. But it's certainly one which has had a lot of precedent in the NZ parliament.

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        Please try staying on-topic and do not resort to whataboutery, thank you.

        You make fair points, but it isn’t as simple and binary as old vs. new law. Some of the repealed legislation is foundational to large complex policy frameworks that are already underway, some quite advanced. Repealing these is not just a simple reset but it effectively stops them mid-way and mid-air without much certainty of happens next. Moreover, these legislations and associated policy frameworks aimed at dealing with complex and ‘wicked’ issues, which are left in a hole upon repeal without any alternatives lined up. Thus, the 100-day plan of this coalition government is destructive, antagonistic (and petty), regressive, and (more!) costly.

      • Ghostwhowalks 4.1.2

        3 waters took ages through the legislative process, passing final stage with less long winded speeches from MPs after its all been said before is no big deal

  5. adam 5

    I find it funny how the incrementalists are now up in arms. Where were you when myself and others were pointing out the Tory scum at any point can roll it all back? Oh look, with the flick of a hand in our unbridled power model of government – they are doing it.

    The whole we doing this great little things for the environment, gone.

    Workers are getting it a little better, gone.

    Disabled just a smidge better than the crap they have to deal with, gone and now rolled back so hard it's hard to see where the Tory scum will stop.

    Euthanasia, a real problem now with fuck all protections for the weakest in society.

    This government is rabid pack of authoritarian Tory dogs. But you can't say you were not warned by many of us here on the standard that this would be the case.

    You can't be surprised.

    This is what Tory scum do, and as such, incrementalism always loses.

    • Grey Area 5.1

      Totally right Adam. Incrementalist Labour are part of the problem, not the solution. We are facing a shitstorm of cataclismic proportions. So what do we do? Labour cannot save us. Genuine question by the way. I'm not a troll.

      • Incognito 5.1.1

        Labour is not and cannot be held responsible for the neo-authoritarian and neo-liberal actions & policies of the coalition government. As long as we (?) keep thinking along the same tribal lines and, somewhat ironically, with the same-old economic and historical determinism, we’re guaranteed to stay stuck in the same situation with only small changes that are merely variations on a theme. Hopefully, one day we move on & away from this, lift the debate above it, and then come up with new insights, ideas, and possible solutions (which will be largely unexplored at the time).

        • gsays

          I appreciate yr efforts for this post and you highlight real grievances with this current regime.

          I dislike the direction the ones with their hands on the tiller are taking us.

          While this probably isn't the post for it, Labour needs to articulate a vastly, dare I say it, radically new vision for Aotearoa.

          One where, we aren't accepting bids for building the ferry infrastructure because the state has the capacity.

          Heh, what about even building the ferries in NZ

          Thats is the most disappointing aspect of Ardern and Hipkins’s time they tinkered and didn’t take the opportunity to not govern with the same-old economic and historical determinism.

          • Incognito

            Thanks, I do appreciate that.

            You’re right that this is not the Post for it, but you’re more than welcome to continue this convo in OM, if you wish.

  6. Thinker 6

    I'm waiting for the argument:

    Socialist=Communist=anti-capitalist=treasonous, therefore we must do away with opposition parties, thus saving $ in the process.

    Then, a big bonfire in parliament grounds when all Keynsian and similar works are burned, along with “My Way” by Robert Muldoon.

  7. Darien Fenton 7

    Great post. Did you see Jane Kelsey's piece on the Regulations Minister of today (Seymour) is a ghost of Xmases past from Douglas, Hide et al. (Sorry it may be paywalled, but needs reproducing somewhere).

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