Thakur Ranjit Singh
Auckland, November 10, 2017
History was made when Jacinda Ardern’s Coalition Labour/Greens/NZ First Coalition Government was sworn in in Wellington on Thursday, October 26, 2017.
She was the first millennial (new generation) Prime Minister who attracted a carnival atmosphere at the Beehive that was unprecedented for a swearing-in ceremony.
And most important history of all – a very formidable, strong and, heavy opposition (I did not mean Gerry Brownlee!) in form of the National Party.
The past Government has been rejoicing in its economic performance, its surplus and for bestowing benefits to its elite supporters. However, many of their policies were bereft of compassion, generosity and a heart for the vulnerable.
Labour’s entry heralded a big culture-change. They listened, are caring and have compassion-and a heart. This is evident in some of the things they did within the first week in office.
The Sagar Saga
Sagar Narayan is an intellectually disabled son of a New Zealand citizen, who has no relatives to take care of him in Fiji. He was supposed be deported a day after the new Government was sworn in. However, newly-sworn Associate Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi confirmed that he will complete an in-depth review of Narayan’s case. Until then, the 20-year-old will not be deported.
This case is in contrast to the Sanil Kumar tragedy in 2014 under the National Government which lacked compassion.
National’s then Associate Minister for Immigration Nikki Kaye refused to listen. Sanil’s plea that Fiji did not have proper facilities and that he was being sent to certain death, fell on deaf years. His prediction came true and he passed away in Fiji. National has blood on its hand.
Fortunately, we now have a Government with a heart – they will not sentence sick people to death.
Teina was wrongfully jailed for murder and rape of Susan Burdett in 1992. He had been behind bars for 22 years of his life. His conviction was quashed by Privy Council in March 2015. The National Government approved compensation of $2.52 million but refused to pay the interest element for this gross injustice.
New Justice Minister Andrew Little revealed on his first day on the job that Teina Pora’s compensation for wrongful imprisonment will be increased to match inflation.
Pike River Tragedy
The Pike River Mine disaster, near Greymouth in South Island happened on November 19, 2010. This disaster killed 29 men whose bodies have not been recovered. The National Government refused re-entry and would have poured cold concrete at mine entrance to permanently seal it. It was saved through gallant actions of some concerned people.
The new Government has announced entry among others to retrieve bodies and collect evidence as to what went wrong. The family wants closure and the truth of what happened.
The Minister responsible for re-entry into Pike River, Andrew Little, hopes to get people into the mine by April next year.
Overseas buyers ban
What National Government could not do in none years, the Labour Coalition achieved in five days by seeking to amend laws that would stop overseas buyers speculating on our housing market without breaching trade agreements.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
Minimum wages to gradually go up for the lowest paid workers to meet the living wage rate.
Health and Wellbeing
Labour has announced new Dunedin hospital where Government will take full control and costs, and thrown out National’s public private partnership (PPP). It has announced construction in its first term.
In the aftermath of Christchurch earthquake, the city felt ignored and mental health issue was also ignored. The new Government has taken immediate new initiates to address the ignored issues.
The new Minister for Housing Phil Twyford immediately went into action and announced three satellite towns in outskirts of Auckland to decentralise the and spread out Auckland’s population This would ensure affordable houses for first-home buyers.
Finance with conscience
The new Minister of Finance Grant Robertson emphatically mapped out finance and economic policies of the new Government by announcing that it will not be about statistics that put feather in Government’s caps, but action on the ground that affects the life of common citizens.
Economic cake shared by all.
Other events after a week
A very rewarding and successful whirlwind visit to Australia.
Paid parental leave to gradually increase from its 18 weeks to 26 weeks by the term of this parliament.
Teina Pora’s interest element determined to be near a million dollars additional.
Rock star Economy?
On the issue of increasing paid parental leave, a morning Newstalk ZB talkback host quipped that Labour was moving towards a socialist regime.
Whatever you call it – sharing benefits with deserving common people and ruling with a heart is miles better than a rock star economy which means little to the poor down the economic ladder.
Star of this economy had been overseas housing speculators, multi-house owners and the rich elite -while the rock burdened and stifled the cries of vulnerable poorer people, suffering from a Government showing surplus, but under-funding basic needs like education, health and housing, among others.
The joy of Diwali
This Government will not take pride in economic statistics but improving social responsibility statistics that has been shaming our country as a Developed Nation.
Indeed, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity delivered to us on Diwali Night will shine light and give economic equality and social justice to ALL its citizens.
If the first week is a guide, then this nation is indeed blessed with a Government with a heart.
Thakur Ranjit Singh is a Political Observer, Indian Newslink columnist and Media Commentator and runs his Blog, ‘Fiji Pundit.’ He lives in Auckland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org