Payoff for austerity needed in 2013

Last updated 07:25 29/01/2013

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It may be two years out from the next election, but 2013 is turning into a make or break year for our political leaders.

After kicking off the start of the political season with his state of the nation speech last week, Prime Minister John Key will outline his plan for the year today. We take a look at his likely priorities, along with those of other party leaders - and also unfinished business from 2012.

NATIONAL

  • Convince voters the long-awaited dividend from four years of austerity is coming, in the form of an improvement in living standards.
  • Build momentum on its economic programme with solid progress on the Canterbury rebuild - and get away at least two share floats in the partial asset sales programme before the end of the year.
  • Tidy up its political management after a mistake-prone 2012.

LABOUR

  • Lift leader David Shearer's profile and convince voters he is ready to take the reins of government.
  • Put the acid back on the Government over its management of the economy.
  • Bring new faces on to the front bench to further distance the party from the Helen Clark years - without more blood on the floor.

ACT

  • Get charter schools off the ground with the minimum of hiccups.
  • Get through the year without any more scandals - its National Party allies are unlikely to tolerate any more toxic headlines.
  • Resuscitate the membership, although recycling former MP John Boscawen as president does not bode well for attracting fresh blood.

GREEN

  • Keep public opposition to asset sales on the political agenda.
  • Differentiate from Labour - while maintaining a united front.
  • Raise the profile of traditional "Green" policies, including deep sea drilling and public transport.

UNITED FUTURE

  • Reinvent leader Peter Dunne and the party - or slowly fade into obscurity.
  • Hope that policies like "flexi super" give it some much-needed oxygen.

NZ FIRST

  • Put further distance between it and its former MP Brendan Horan, who looks set to ride out the scandal surrounding money from his dying mother's estate.
  • Reposition itself as a true cross-bench party by seeking opportunities to work with National as well as Labour.

MAORI PARTY

  • Do a better selling job of its gains in Government - including Whanau Ora and its advocacy on tobacco control.
  • Patch up the tensions between co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples.

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MANA

  • Use initiatives like Hone Harawira's food in schools bill to broaden the party's appeal beyond that of a Maori Party.
  • Cement the Mana Party's place as a natural partner to Labour and the Green Party in government.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Review of MMP: The Government may balk at lowering the 5 per cent threshold for winning seats in Parliament.

Kim Dotcom: A police investigation and separate inquiry still hang over the Government's top spooks after they bungled a covert operation involving the internet entrepreneur.

Top-level leaks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: The Paula Rebstock inquiry is in its final stages and due to report soon.

Privacy investigation into leaks at ACC: The final saga in the Bronwyn Pullar saga is due out soon.

The auditor-general's investigation into wheeling and dealing between the Government and SkyCity over an international convention centre - delayed from December: After viewing a draft report, Mr Key insisted he had nothing to worry about.

The auditor-general's investigation into Labour MP Shane Jones over a visa granted to a former Chinese national: David Shearer's likely promotion of Mr Jones back to his front bench suggests he is not expecting any fallout.

Novopay: Fourth-ranked Cabinet minister Steven Joyce has been put in charge of fixing the shambolic school-pay system.

David Bain compensation: It was back to the drawing board after Justice Minister Judith Collins threw out a report suggesting Mr Bain was innocent of murdering his family and deserved compensation.

Constitutional review: Launched at the instigation of the Maori Party, it has disappeared without trace - and could be overshadowed by a parallel Maori-led review.

Education Secretary Lesley Longstone: Ms Longstone quit after a breakdown in the relationship with Education Minister Hekia Parata. The State Services Commission has promised full disclosure of her final exit package.

- The Dominion Post

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