If you wanted to get stuff done, who would get it done for you? I’m not going to cover them all of course, but here’s a few highlights in both winners and losers.
Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
In this first half of the term, it has a heavy burden supporting the Prime Minister’s agenda and coordinating departments. Top of its list will be child poverty reduction targets, review of the Reserve Bank Act with Treasury, and housing construction and financing policies.
Of all the legal firms to pick from particularly of Simpson Grierson, Buddle Findlay, Kensington Swan, Russell McVeigh with strong public and administrative law teams, it’s Mai Chen who has most assiduously lobbied with punchy phrasing and fresh legal reasoning for many years. Her firm is usefully positioned across Auckland and Wellington. She has reputedly great insider tracking with Ardern.
Deloittes, PWC, NZSuperFund, ACC, top 4 Aussie banks, Cameron Partners, Morrison/Infratil, Cranleigh, Rockpoint, Crown Infrastructure Partners, et al
Expect the offices of Twyford and Grant Robertson to be assiduously courted by the above. With much new infrastructure likely to be funded through bonds serviced off the housing and commercial buildings that developments build, the local financing industry is in for a testing time of adjustment. Most will be seeking to shape the frameworks, all will be seeking rich fees and percentages, all are now vital to the massive public works programmes ahead.
Generation Zero/Greater Auckland
Few since the vast restructures of the late 1980s have seen their pre-drafted plans simply adopted wholesale into the policies of parties, and then had them implemented in such short order. They have shifted the politics of transport and of housing further and faster than the combined efforts of the Ministry of Transport, Auckland Transport, Auckland Council, and NZTA. But with no Wellington presence, and run by volunteers, whether they can sustain this influence is questionable.
Climate Commission, Forest and Bird, Greenpeace, and the Sustainable Business Council
Previously largely oppositional networks, they are the biggest sectional winner. Whether this turns into a love-fest for lobbyists like an inverted Business New Zealand, or tilts the entire commercial culture of New Zealand away from bulk low cost production to anything better, will rely on the Zero Carbon legislation and persuading more and more shareholders including the declining New Zealand Sharemarket. The task is massive.
More of the smaller influence-brokers who have had trusted relationships with Labour, NZF, or Greens insiders will do well. LECG needs a mention for consistently good work. Governmental change requires capacity, so headhunting will be a major sport with Sheffield and Momentum executive searches striding across The Terrace and Shortland Street netting at will. The circle of corporate and quango board appointment luvvies will of course change a little, but we can figure those out over the next year.
New Zealand Transport Agency
At near-standstill through internal restructure, sick with “customer focussed” ideologues and my-way-is-the-highway, they are nevertheless being signalled to be reborn as a road-and-rail super entity. Their near-monopoly command of the heavy construction and engineering industry will likely make them even more powerful this term.
With the demolition of MPI, their remaining influence is focussed on MFAT. They are New Zealand’s most powerful diplomatic presence across the world, and our largest company by a long, long way. This near monopoly holds the future of New Zealand’s water quality and much of its export potential. Whether they can pack down with the new Ministers is largely up to them.
Historically they have done exceedingly well working with Labour governments, but they are in really bad corporate shape. On the day the fresh government was sworn in and announced the largest civil works programme since World War Two, our second largest company announced that it was in complete chaos. Fletcher Building could go either down the road of complete breakup, or capitalise handsomely on the planned mass-building housing programmes.
Business New Zealand, EMA
The entrypoints into this new government for business have yet to clarify. Their top points for the new government are pretty closely aligned. But the Sustainable Business Network is currently better aligned and networked into this kind of government. The likes of Kim Campbell will continue to rise in stature compared to the ever-ideological Dr Hartwich.
Ministry of Primary Industries
Chopped into Forestry, Farming, and Fisheries. Expect fisheries to be gutted and filleted after years of colluding with industry.
Housing New Zealand Corporation
Likely not to exist in short order.
By no means count them out. As we saw with the tractor being driven up Parliament’s steps a decade ago, they can organise, they fight to win and win they do (no more farmer water pricing being their latest success), and still have a lot to gain through the successful conclusion of an amended TPPA round and other pending trade deals. But they are diminished.
Infrastructure New Zealand (New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development)
Really just a front for secondary financing for infrastructure for tolled motorways and prisons, they are having the entire rug pulled out from under them with Labour’s Twyford relying on funding for his projects from everywhere he can get it. Long a glove-puppet for the roading lobby, they have no chance with this new government.
Bayleys, Barfoot and Thompson, and the property lobby
Donated for the wrong team, and that always gets noticed. Anyone representing the interests of landlords will find it very hard to have the access they used to.
Saunders Unsworth/Senate Communications/professional lobbyists
Ever-reliable door openers, but are often mere palimpsests and not always adding in value. Some of their best customers will be forming the attack profiles from a well-funded National Party, in turn funnelling industry lobby attacks.
There are a constellation of generally useless quangos in Wellington we won’t bother with. Most can be classed as simply hanging in there keeping their head down – natural positioning when there’s ideological change.
None of this implies corruption in the plain sense. As Mai Chen once said. “Presume that everything done under the cover of darkness will be yelled from the mountain tips. If it’s going to embarrass the politicians, just don’t ask them to do it.”