New Zealand officially has a new government and a new Prime Minister.
NZ First leader Winston Peters has finally announced his party will enter into a coalition government with the Labour Party. The Green Party will provide support on a confidence and supply basis.
The announcement comes 26 days after the September 23 election. Following September’s general election, no government was announced after neither the National or Labour parties managed to secure enough seats in parliament to govern under MMP.
This meant both parties had to cut a deal with NZ First and Peters to see themselves in power for the next three years.
Ardern says Labour is pleased to have successfully concluded negotiations with NZ First.
“I thank the NZ First Party and Leader Winston Peters for agreeing in principle to a coalition arrangement with Labour.
“The negotiations have been courteous, constructive and robust. Throughout, we have focused on our shared values and the policies that can take New Zealand forward.
“We are both committed to forming a strong and durable government that can deal with the many challenges this country faces.”
In light of the announcement, The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) says that student issues should be a top priority in the first 100 days of the new Labour-led Government.
National President Jonathan Gee says all three parties have pledged increases in student financial support and free tertiary education.
“We look forward to seeing that become a reality,” he says .
On the campaign trail Ardern pledged to introduce one free year of tertiary study and a $50 raise to allowances and living costs from 2018 if elected.
NZ First’s Up Front Investment policy introduces free tertiary education, a universal living allowance and student loan debt write-off for those who work in New Zealand.
The Greens’ policy introduces free off-peak public transport and universal postgraduate allowances for students.
“These policies are good for students, and good for the country,” Gee says.
“We all benefit from greater participation and support in tertiary education, through producing New Zealanders who are well-placed to succeed in their careers and make a positive contribution to society.”