New Zealand’s new Government: what are the priorities?

The Beehive Parliament Building in Wellington, New Zealand
Related expertise

Read our further analysis on specific areas

Forty days since the election, the negotiations between National, Act and New Zealand First have finally resulted in New Zealand’s 54th Parliament. Both Coalition Agreements note that “New Zealand faces significant long-term economic, social, and environmental challenges” and promises “a new government with policies to seriously address these challenges”.

There are some ambitious targets covering a range of core areas within New Zealand. Specifically, in this summary we have identified those where change has been signalled in the Coalition Agreements.

We’ll be providing detailed analysis and further commentary on these changes, making sure you are aware of how they will affect you and your business. In the meantime, these are the highlights:

Out the door by Christmas

  • Fair Pay Agreement regime.
  • The Natural and Built Environment Act 2023 and the Spatial Planning Act 2023.

Aims for the remainder of 2023

  • Establish a new ministerial portfolio for Regulation, and introduce legislation to improve the quality of regulation.
  • Restore mortgage interest deductibility for rental properties with a 60 per cent deduction in 2023/24.
  • Immediately begin to repeal and replace Part 6 of the Arms Act 1983 relating to clubs and ranges.

Priorities over the next three years


  • Replace the Fees Free programme, which makes the first year of tertiary education fees free, with a final year fees free policy.
  • Reintroduce partnership schools.
  • Focus the curriculum on academic achievement.

Environment, energy and natural resources

  • Replace the Resource Management Act 1991 with new resource management laws premised on the enjoyment of property rights as a guiding principle.
  • Repeal the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration.
  • Reverse the recent ban on live animal exports while ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare.
  • Cease implementation of new Significant Natural Areas and seek advice on the operation of existing Significant Natural Areas as part of the Government’s programme to reform the Resource Management Act.
  • Repeal the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Act 2022.
  • Replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater to better reflect the interests of all water users. Allow district councils more flexibility in how they meet environmental limits and seek advice on how to exempt councils from obligations under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 as soon as practicable.
  • Stop the current review of the ETS system to restore confidence and certainty to the carbon trading market.
  • Cut red tape and regulatory blocks on irrigation, water storage, managed aquifer recharge and flood protection schemes.

Firearms law reform

  • Rewrite the Arms Act 1983 to provide for greater protection of public safety and simplify regulatory requirements to improve compliance and pass it through all stages during this term of Parliament.
  • Repeal and replace Part 6 of the Arms Act 1983 relating to clubs and ranges.


  • Amend the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 2021 to remove the dual mandate and take advice on removing the Treasury observer and returning to a single decision maker model.
  • Rewrite the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 to protect vulnerable consumers without unnecessarily limiting access to credit.

Governance and co-governance

  • Remove co-governance from the delivery of public services.
  • Stop all work on implementing He Puapua, the report setting out measures to achieve co-governance.
  • Introduce legislation for a four-year term for Parliament, which will go to referendum.
  • Prioritise free and fair trade agreements.
  • Ensure a ‘National Interest Test’ is undertaken before New Zealand accepts any agreements from the UN and its agencies that limit national decision-making and reconfirm that New Zealand’s domestic law holds primacy over any international agreements.


  • Repeal the Therapeutic Products Act 2023.
  • Update Pharmac’s decision making model and reform its funding.
  • Disestablish the Māori Health Authority.
  • Repeal the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco). Amendment Act 2022 to remove the requirements for denicotinisation and the reduction in retail outlets.
  • Better recognise people with overseas medical qualifications and experience for accreditation in New Zealand.
  • Conduct a full cost-benefit analysis on the proposed Waikato medical school.
  • End all Covid-19 vaccine mandates still in operation.
  • Renegotiate the Crown funding agreement with St John with a view to meeting a greater portion of their annual budget.


  • Remove median wage requirements from Skilled Migrant Category visas.
  • Make it easier for family members of visa holders to work in New Zealand.


  • Establish a National Infrastructure Agency to coordinate government funding, connect investors with New Zealand infrastructure, and improve funding, procurement, and delivery.
  • Establish a Regional Infrastructure Fund with $1.2 billion in capital funding over the Parliamentary term.
  • Cancel Auckland Light Rail and Let’s Get Wellington Moving and reduce expenditure on cycleways.
  • Reverse speed limit reductions where it is safe to do so.
  • Commission a study into New Zealand’s fuel security requirements, and investigate re-opening Marsden Point Refinery.

Law and order

  • Abolish the previous Labour Government’s prisoner reduction target.
  • Training at least 500 new frontline police in the next two years.

Public sector

  • Remove the Kāinga Ora Sustaining Tenancies Framework and ensure appropriate consequences for tenants who engage in repeated antisocial behaviour.
  • Remove Section 7AA, which imposes a duty to recognise and provide a practical commitment to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (te Tiriti o Waitangi), from the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
  • Reduce Core Crown expenditure as a proportion of the overall economy.


  • National’s promised tax relief will go ahead.
  • Moderate increases to the minimum wage every year.
  • Repeal the Clean Car Discount.

Core focus areas

Both agreements focus on these key areas as being the focus of this Coalition Government’s objectives. In the coming weeks we will look at some of the areas in more detail.

The core areas identified are:

  • Economy
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Farming and primary sector
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Immigration
  • Infrastructure, Energy and Natural resources
  • International trade and relations
  • Public services (social services, Oranga Tamariki)
  • Seniors and Aged care
  • Tax

If you have any questions about the above summary, or would like further information about how these changes might impact you or your business, please get in touch with your usual Duncan Cotterill team member.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

Related insights

Find an expert