Steven Joyce would have been pretty useful in a Labour-led government right now.
Steven Joyce took over the rapidly collapsing Novopay system from the Minister of Education after a completely stuffed procurement process. It took months to fix, but he and his team fixed it. Stepen Jojyce fronted throughout.
Steven Joyce also amalgamated dozens of different departments together to form the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. This Department is now the primary go-to shop for advice and action if you want to get stuff done. They are the default regulator, funder, and shaper of much of our current economy, including housing, and our entire innovation ecosystem.
Steven Joyce rolled out the Crown Fibre Holdings rollout of broadband across New Zealand’s cities. Millions now benefit from that increased capacity.
Re-using that Crown Fibre corporate structure, Steven Joyce also re-formed the Special Purpose Development Vehicles that have accelerated Crown development in some areas. They are already the template for what Twyford rolls out in the coming months. You can see it developing stuff in southern Auckland right now.
Steven Joyce was also core to the rollout of the irrigation fund. Plenty of other Ministers stumbled in this area. The completed projects are major alterations to New Zealand’s economy that have enabled massive new dairy processing investments.
Steven Joyce got Transmission Gully motorway going, together with Mackay to Pekapeka. It had almost nothing to do with Peter Dunne, and everything to do with Joyce while Minister of Transport.
Steven Joyce accelerated the entire Pokeno-Meremere-Huntly-Hamilton-Cambridge motorway system. Last stages of it won’t be finished until 2020, but it is a well-overdue upgrade to the Auckland-Hamilton-Taouranga freight triangle.
Steven Joyce also got the Puhoi-Wellsford motorway alliance going.
Steven Joyce, with MBIE, ensured that Emirates Team New Zealand were supported through multiple losses, and then ensured that they came back here. Which will be a spectacular event for Auckland and for the world.
Steven Joyce was also the primary negoatiator for the government in forming the National Convention Centre. His control of Crown risk in that negotiaton with Sky City stands in absolutely stark contrast to Brownlee’s debacle in Christchurch’s Justice Precinct or the dead Christchurch Stadium.
All of those, and more, are tasks that will shape New Zealand for a century to come.
I don’t have to like all of them, and I sneakily suspect some of you might not either.
Plenty of things he could have done, plenty of marginal benefits foregone or wasted. Plenty of projects he opposed.
But he should look back with pride that the stuff that he put his shoulder to was hard, changed New Zealand significantly according to government policy, and will last the test of time.
And he had no ego about any of it. He just got on with it. All of the long-range jobs he started will be finished and celebrated under a Labour-led government. And he doesn’t care.
Steven Joyce is like a front-row forward in New Zealand: they get no praise but they carry weight. They are critical to the long term success and reputation of a government. Of the current government, only Twyford comes close, and he has got a long way to go before he delivers as Joyce has done.
Steven Joyce, this country needs more Ministers like you. Just, on the left.