Despite previous polls showing Labour having the numbers to govern alone, history shows us they'll more than likely need a partner to form a government.
We're going to look at two coalition options - Labour and Greens, which could look likely if we trust the polls. And just for fun, Labour and Act - how could two parties at opposite ends of the spectrum get along? What would the likely policy trade-offs look like and how might that impact on ECE?
Big picture - what they agree on:
Big picture - different approaches The Greens are pushing for 100% qualified teaching force in ECE (and wanting to fund it), while Labour have just re-introduced the 100% funding band only as an incentive for the time being, with the promise to regulate at that level in time.
Looking at the two parties' values, Labour is the traditional home of trade unions, and we can see this influence in the last three years. The Greens fall between conservation and social justice values, with the two drivers causing tension from time-to-time.
As we've seen, the two can work together, and as a (presumably) senior partner, Labour will have the largest say. As confidence and supply partners, both buy into and support the continuation of the Early Learning Action Plan, which is a positive for the sector, as it offers stability and certainty.
In any negotiations, the Greens will be pushing for commitments on tax, conservation and public transport. Education is part of the mix, but unlikely to be a show-stopper for working together - any movement will come through the next three years. Labour's big plank will be teacher pay parity, but we're yet to see the detail on how it will roll out, while doing away with the decile system will be a big focus in the rest of the education system.
Labour is committed to the Early Learning Action Plan (ELAP) and more likely to find support in coalition with the Greens, although the union’s desire to have everything – like teacher pay parity – tomorrow might not find favour with the Greens, who will be seeking priority investment in other areas of interest, like climate change, etc.
The risk with two left-leaning parties in government is that the strong influence of the union is likely to continue and some of the associated policies implemented over the next three years, such as further increases to the minimum wage, extension to sick leave provisions, etc – all at a cost to small business with no corresponding increase in subsidy funding.
(It's worth noting that on current polling we may lose New Zealand First and their education spokesperson Tracey Martin. While we've not always agreed with some of Tracey's positions, there's no doubting her engagement with, and knowledge of the early learning sector have been a valuable voice in the debate, particularly on Learning Support, and will be missed.)
A side issue - but what will happen to the Green School's funding under a Labour / Green government?!?
This might seem an odd coupling, but sillier things have happened in politics. To even suggest a coalition with Act, who currently poll around the same level as the Greens, sends a clear signal to the Greens that they cannot expect everything to go their way. Could Labour and ACT work together to form a government?
Big picture - what they agree on
Big picture - different approaches
ACT's flagship education policy is a Student Education Account for every child, with parents controlling how it's deployed, opening the door to more partnership models and reducing Ministry of Education staff by 50%. It’s the old Act voucher system with a new title. Reading the policy, it feels more like a bargaining position than a policy to me, and it will be fascinating to see how it works in any negotiations. Labour could not accept this approach in any policy trade-off.
On the surface it's hard to see how the models could go together, but with ACT's core values of choice and user pays, there could be some room to move around ECE funding models, and a different approach for our sector, which has always had room for different business models. It is possible that a Labour-Act alliance could see some trade-offs impacting on the implementation timetable of the ELAP, with Act seeking to moderate some of the more left-leaning initiatives.
In wider negotiations, the economy, COVID-19 response and even gun policy are likely to be hot topics, with the two parties poles apart on many areas. Education, and how it’s funded could be one area where there’s room for discussion, but it would take willingness on both sides to meet somewhere in the middle.
The risk with a Labour – Act coalition is that some of the backbenchers, particularly in marginal seats, will seek some of the more extreme left or right policies and get agitated when these are moderated in order to keep political stability. This relationship would be high-maintenance.
What do you think? Further reading - our ECC Policy tracker
Here's the first in a series of blogs from preferred suppliers Buddle Findlay on taking the right steps to set your team up the right way in a post-COVID-19 world:
In the current climate many childcare centres have experienced a reduction in revenue and need to reduce operating costs. Administrative expenses make up a significant portion of operating costs, however, staff are the lifeblood of any business and are often the key to success. We set out steps that can be taken to preserve staff while reducing costs, and what to consider if restructuring is an unavoidable next step.
You can read the full article here.