Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hits back at criticism over the Government's refusal to release the 33 pages of 'notes' on its coalition agreement with New Zealand First

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hits back at criticism over the Government's refusal to release the 33 pages of 'notes' on its coalition agreement with New Zealand First
Cartoon by Jacky Carpenter

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is swatting away claims her refusal to release “notes” on what Labour and New Zealand First explored when entering into a coalition agreement, shows a lack of transparency.

The Leader of the Opposition Bill English on Monday morning had a go at the Government for declining an Official Information Act request to release the document, which Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told journalists about the day after Labour and New Zealand First signed their official coalition agreement last month.

Yet speaking to journalists at a post-cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon, Ardern said: “We’re certainly not leaving it in the shadows.”

Ardern explained the Government had made public the things it had formally committed to and budgeted for, but has the right to keep quiet on the issues it is exploring and doesn’t yet know whether will be feasible.

“Every government has a work programme - things that they look in to. The moment that we see some benefit and that it’s something that will progress, that’s the point at which it will be made public,” she said.

“It is not a formal document. It is not a government document. It’s a document of elements that we may progress and we may not.”

Ardern said the document hadn’t been officially signed off on or been distributed to ministers.

While Peters on October 25 reportedly told reporters it was a 38-page document, he today confirmed it was more like 33 pages long.

The official coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand is eight pages long, as is the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens.

Peters previously said the more detailed document contained directives to ministers, media strategies and the appointment process for diplomats.

While it was still being completed when he talked to journalists last month, at the time he said it would be made public, noting it was “for the province of the Prime Minister to release”.

However on Monday afternoon he supported Ardern at the press conference, elaborating on her explanation of the situation by giving examples of what was in the document.

He said the document included a discussion around how the measure of gross domestic product (GDP) used in budgets should be per capita, to make it more relatable.

He also mentioned the document included a proposed change to the way unemployment is measured.

Yet Ardern was resolute every government maintained the right to keep quiet on matters it was considering, but hadn’t yet finalised.

Separately, Ardern said Grant Robertson will make his first major speech as Finance Minister on Friday, announcing the date of the Half Year Fiscal Update and Budget Policy Statement.

"This will incorporate our 100 Day Plan and set us on the road towards Budget 2018. It will show our investment and spending plans are responsible, affordable and in line with our Budget Responsibility Rules." Ardern said.

"The update will also spell out the renewed contribution to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund after nine years of a contribution freeze. This is all about safeguarding super for future generations."

Below is a press release issued by Ardern on Monday afternoon.

Full steam ahead on 100 Day Plan 

The next four weeks will mark further significant progress for the Labour-led Government on our 100 Day Plan, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

“When my government was sworn in just over four weeks ago we promised action and we’ve made huge strides on many issues already. 

“By Christmas we’ll make further important progress, putting families at the heart of everything this government does. 

“On Thursday we will pass legislation extending Paid Parental Leave – lifting it to 26 weeks by July 2020. This will be of huge benefit to working families and the well-being of their young children. 

“The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill will be passed by the House in the next two weeks, underlining our commitment to ensure all New Zealanders can live in warm, dry homes. 

“On Friday Finance Minister Grant Robertson will deliver his first major speech where he will announce the date of the Half Year Fiscal Update and Budget Policy Statement. This will incorporate our 100 Day Plan and set us on the road towards Budget 2018. It will show our investment and spending plans are responsible, affordable and in line with our Budget Responsibility Rules. 

“The update will also spell out the renewed contribution to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund after nine years of a contribution freeze. This is all about safeguarding super for future generations. 

“We will also shortly be introducing legislation to give effect to the Families Package. This includes Best Start, the Winter Energy Payment and increased payments to parents with children under Working for Families. This package will make a huge difference to low and middle income earners.

“We promised to make post-secondary school education and training more affordable and accessible. Last week’s increase of $50 to student allowances was the first stage of that plan. In the next weeks we will outline our policy on making the first year of post-secondary school education and training free from 1 January, 2018. 

“There’s much more for this government to do, but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and the difference we’re making to the lives of many New Zealanders,” says Prime Minister Ardern.

Note: Progress to date on 100 Day Plan 

· Minimum wage to rise to $16.50 to take effect from April 2018
· Student allowances and living cost loans to increase by $50 from 1 January 2018
· Extension of Paid Parental Leave – legislation introduced and to be passed this week
· Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill – legislation introduced and to be passed shortly
· Ban on overseas speculators buying existing houses – legislation to be introduced shortly
· Tax Working Group - establishment underway
· Pike River Recovery Agency – establishment underway

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Lest we forget , this is a Democracy so of course they must release the document , we cannot have backroom deals that end with the entire population being led around by the nose for the next 3 years .

This 40 page document is not some kind of State Secret , on which lives depend , its about open and transparent governance

If there 40 pages that make up the deal that were not annexed to the coalition agreement , then we need to see what was in that 40 page document .

And thats the end of the debate about its release

Indeed, makes you wonder what is this coalition ashamed of making public ... they need to come clean and prove the transparency and honesty they claimed throughout their campaign ... We dont mind seeing a naked emperor ...there have been few over the years !! ... but we have to see if we are having a dishonest one !!

If Boatman has been listening (does he ever) only Official documents end up in the pile for release.
No one said the notes were annexed to the coalition agreement.
In my experience people note down to help in the future info that could be useful but has no immediete relevance.
If you are an author you would never send a manuscript off to your publisher until you had added all the expletives that you do not use in your normal life ;-)

If the winners are the losers that were in power. It makes sense that the losers are the winners as it happened. The winners who won actually lost and therefore the losers were the actual winners that won.

In theory the winners had the win but lost the win to the losers. The losers aquired the win from the winners and became the winners.


I'd just like to see a properly costed Budget....until That's released we have only guesswork and policy speculation....

For some Amusement, take a look at the real-time Trees to Plant and Houses to Build tickers over at As of a few seconds ago, these stood at 867K and 892 respectively, if those targets of 1 billion and 100K are to be achieved within the stated timelines.

On the billion trees - this is a really interesting explanation of the how easy it would be to achieve the target from an experienced tree planter;

Who is also the editor of the Wairarapa Times Age.

And the forest to dairy conversions in Taupo , landcorp deal

Can someone please explain this to me?

What happens when we plant the Billion trees and become carbon neutral in 2050 ( after spending billions ...etc) ?? .... WILL THE CLIMATE CHANGE ?? >>> will there be LESS Carbon emission in the world or our atmosphere ??

Or we are just putting a price on it, so will become the laughing stock of the world?

Yes, yes, no.

And, for all the additional fruit and nut tree crops we plant, our GDP will increase with their harvest. With respect to pine plantations, these are likely to only reforest what has already been harvested (and hence will contribute to GDP but not likely increase it over and above current contributions from that harvest).

This is a useful read;

Kate do you have a link to show what the extra fruit and nut tree quantities are? A lot of trees being planted around here are replacing farmland so when we take off what the land was earning before anyway, in a gdp perspective, the increase I believe, would be quite quite small, if there was an increase.
The govt have said that half of the billion trees are what private enterprise is already planning to plant. So the increase is only a doubling of our planting. How can you say that emissions will drop as a result of that worldwide when we have countries such as China saying they will be increasing their emissions for a decade or more?

One Billion trees. I have already personally planted my share - time for the rest of you to get on with it.

Shane Jones said on national radio interview/promo with John Campbell prior to the election it was an extra billion trees he was planting - there was no mention of the private sector - only using "carrots ans sticks" to get the trees planted and a free pass by John. The gullible media lapped it up. Bring fruit and nut trees into it is laughable.

NZ makes up 0.2% of global CO2 emissions, this is nothing more than an expensive virtue signalling gravy train.

And you have the gall to call yourself eco bird.

Seamus leaves out the bit where pine seedlings here are planted in a four month window and to a standard that rules out planting 2,200 before lunch and taking a rest. Also it takes a couple of years to ramp up the nurseries excluding RMA constraints.

What do the workers do for the other eight months of the year? Already it is a struggle to find tree planters/bushmen/truck drivers - will we import some workers?

I'm more intrigued to know where they are going to get the extra 100,000 ha per annum over the next ten years given NZ is already full to over flowing - according the majority of commenters on this site. Perhaps Jacinda will just cut wilding pine eradication funding?

waymand. There are no holes though. We know that because Ganesh Nana of BERL said so. And almost every financial commentator agreed. So there is nothing to worry about. Your desire to actually see the budget and numbers shows you have trust issues.

On the calculator at Kiwiblog - tree planting and house building projects don't develop in the linear fashion these graphs indicate. You first need to procure the land , prepare it etc before you get to plant or build. The plans for this activity are contained in the sub set of the withheld 38 pages of 'notes' addenda to the main coalition plans. Shane and Phil are toiling mightily to ensure it all comes together. The billion trees and 100,000 houses will be delivered, on time and on budget. Yes we can !

lol, that's Obama's slogan ... you 've got your wires crossed :)

I watched the full post-Cabinet media conference. I quite like it that these are posted to my FB feed by the Labour Party online LIVE whenever they happen.

Jacinda and Winston gave perfectly acceptable explanations. A bit like the thousands of questions put by the opposition issue and the who DT thought JA was issue - overblown.

Hey Nats what's the guts with this report on the railway you seemed to have kept hidden away from us?
Nats "Look, over there, Jacinda and Winston won't let you see their note taking".
Nothing bloody changes.


I agreed with labours policies disclosed before the election, and I agreed with NZF's policies which were also disclosed before the election. Whatever is in the agreement is some linear combination of those policies and already has been disclosed to the public. What a non issue this is.


Well said, couldn't agree more.

Well great, let's have them out then...What are they ashamed of if all was published and there is nothing hidden ????...prove us wrong...and show us the fig leaf !!

There is no linear combination when they are towards the opposite side. How could you agree with them both, before the election?

Clearly they both had things to say that he agreed with, they did not have to be the same things.

True, so wouldn't you then want to know exactly what they have agreed to.

It may be that the policies he voted on are not the ones they move forward with.

We do, the agreement has been released. Do you not find it strange that the Nats go off on this ridiculous tangent on the same day that we find out they held back a report on rail that was very favourable of it for a year? Same old, same old Nat diversionary tactic, and you have fallen for it, again.

nat supporters remind me of the tongan fans, get over it the result is what it is you are not going to change it now
become more constructive and develop better policy that got you kicked out, get in touch with what kiwis think and feel , and cut out the dead wood that has been too long in parliament and bring on a new team to take you forward.
all this moaning and bleating just turns people off, surely you learnt that from angry andrew

..disservice to Tonga I thinks! But that aside, yes. I've only voted Labour once (this time), Nat man, many times. If they can accept that the environment does matter, that immigration is a rort, tax and welfare need major reform, our youth do matter and that we do have a housing crisis, i might start listening to them again. Until such time they can stay in the naughty corner.

National already has the policy that gave it the highest party vote. It is not in power because of a man that one person called "Political Pus", not because of the voters for Labour and the Greens per se. It is everyone's right to state their opinion and I'm energised to oppose this government and its accidental prime minister everyday. As my old boss said, "suck it up Princess".

But having the highest party vote doesn't count in MMP - it's who can stitch together a coalition with the required number of seats that matters. Suck it up Princess.

A government is in power because significantly more than 50% of people voted for policies that aligned pretty well. And Winston campaigned on "Had enough?" and policies that were not particularly well aligned with National's at all.

This is how MMP works.

National are not in government because they lack alignment of policy with other parties, and they campaigned and felt like they won a first past the post election. They even celebrated winning a first past the post result. This turned out to be slightly premature and there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth ever since.

It would likely have been a more incongruous government had Winston about faced on his campaigning and went with National.

If Nats policies and NZF policies had some semblence of matchiness, they might very well be in govt, they didn't and they aren't. I assume that anyone who voted NZF voted for their policies, which were more in tune with Labours.
Get over it! No I won't hold my breath.

Careful Expat or your negativity will also be 'called out' by the coalition leader. She hasn't yet quite risen to her mentor Helen's 'haters and wreckers' level but one feels it might not be too far away.

Feels a bit like Helen is back from sabatical

Who can forget the line "I sometimes wonder whether I'm the victim of my own success as a popular and competent prime minister"?

Just watching Cindy in Parliament on FB. She's going to look like Helen after a couple of years of this punishment. The Nats are relentless, just like an energised opposition should be. Give no quarter.

Whatever, they look like a bunch of whiny two year olds at the moment.

We all know that this coalition of second raters is going to screw the country over the next 3 years.
4 weeks in and they have a,ready told plenty of fibs!
Supporters can say what they like, but if you haven’t got doubts already about them there is something badly wrong with your thought patterns.
Yes they will give away money to the so-called poverished, but it has to come from somewhere!
This is going to end very badly for many when they are out of work because employers need to lay staff off.
All Because,of a seriously flawed election system called MMP.

I think it's a little early to judge. Give them a couple of years and we'll see if they deliver, I think things are looking positive so far. Lets at least wait for the budget before complaining about how much they are spending. Remember - if you have better ideas or disagree with specific policies you are welcome to present your ideas and write to your MPs, this might be taken more seriously than vague complaints on here.

I've lived most of my life in the UK under a FPTP system, where the entire election result depends on a small swing in the marginal seats. If you don't live in a marginal seat, there's no point in even showing up. Be grateful for the system you have which allows a multitude of views to be represented (surely the point in having a democracy?)

edit: spelling govt must be doing something right if the boy is worried.

The Boy has been moaning and groaning for some time Rastus. I would be too if I had a property portfolio in Christchurch. Prices down, rents down. Oh to be diversified.

..yep, have followed the rants. Blind faith in never ending growth. I'm diversified, but also realistic to accept that come the 'adjustment' everything will be hit. It's impossible to diversify away when bubbles are everywhere.

Of course the only thing that won't go down is you own getting rid of that is the best strategy.

It's not MMP's fault that more of the country voted against National and their partners

I think they are doing a great job so far. JA understands NZs success should be partly shared for all new Zealanders and not just a privileged class.
Some of that money will come from you TM2, I'm OK with that.
Regarding the pages of notes, what a waste of everyone's time, glad it was swatted aside.

Yet another Nat diversionary tactic, we should be asking why the report on rail was hidden for a year. "Look over there, secret coalition agreement".

Hey - TM2 @09:22, pls go easy on the use of the word "we".

I don't want to be included in your drunken musings......

Lets just face it , our country is currently being run by a coalition of the losers , a hapless bunch of amateurs who think they are running a campus Students Union .

Indeed .. and yet you voted for one those losers ..

Well after nine years of "do nothing" National at least there is some hope this new Govn will actually achieve a few things to make NZ a better place.

Bill English made a fool of himself on Breakfast TV. What a waste of everyone's time. The mood was almost jovial it was so ridiculous. Jack Tame questioned Bill on whether National made all coalition documents public. The answer was no, but but but..ummm... Winston Peters mentioned the document and this is a unique government. Unique? You mean only 3 partners as opposed to 4 like the previous one?
Then Jack Tame questioned Bill on National asking 6,000 questions of Labour in the first month. Bill then tried to justify it all with some details which actually just highlighted the futility of it all, and highlighting the deliberate attempt to be a drain on NZ. Quite sad I thought.

Oh dear.

You can almost hear the knives being sharpened back at National home base.

Who is this Bill English guy, wasn't he the fool that got all clustered up with that Turdy guy in a threesome tangle down in Double Dipton or Southern Clueless or something such like....?

The winners who are now the losers which were in power before? The losers are the winners?
The lady with the permanent smile who is in power and the dude that looks like Mugabe thats who Im talking about. They are the winners.

RR - are you Out of Africa or Out of Your Mind?

Can't tell from this distance the former, but odds on for the latter.

Lol, I like reading the comments. Makes me laugh most of the time.