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Government can be satisfied . . .

Opinion Piece

With its first six months in office just completed, the Labour-led Government would be excused for thinking things have gone well — despite some self-inflicted wounds.

It has certainly faced setbacks, such as the youth camp fallout and the unwise actions of Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran. These were significant but small in the grand scheme, unlike the sudden decision to ban future offshore oil and gas exploration.

The prospect of fuel taxes rising by 9 to 12 cents nationally and 22c in Auckland in coming years will not have helped its popularity.

Yesterday the Government captured the headlines with its $28 billion transport package for Auckland — two major new road projects and light rail all the way to both the airport and Pukekohe.

The package, along with Labour’s ambitious plans for new affordable housing, have been described as the largest civil engineering project in New Zealand’s history.

Power subsidies for the elderly this winter will be popular, while students already have reason to be grateful.

A highly successful overseas trip last week has boosted the image of Jacinda Ardern, who says she will continue as Prime Minister right up to the birth of her child in June.

Although the initial euphoria for a young Prime Minister might have faded a little, Ardern remains a great asset for the Government and even more so for her party.

Still to come next month is the Government’s first Budget, which at present it seems to be trying to play down but will clarify the intended direction of the next two years.

There are still reasons for the Government to look warily over its shoulder.

National is back on top in the latest polls, although its continuing lack of partners makes for a huge challenge to form a government after the next election.

The Green Party’s decision to contest the coming Northcote by-election, which is likely to ensure National retains what was once a Labour seat, shows there is some tension between the three governing parties.

All in all, though, the Government has managed its first six months reasonably well and will face the future with some confidence.