6 Dec 2023

Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro highlights government's 'extensive, ambitious' agenda at State Opening of Parliament

11:34 am on 6 December 2023

Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro has given her first Speech from the Throne, laying out the government's agenda for the coming three years.

It is her first speech from the throne.

Preceded by ceremony supported by the military and Māori dignitaries, the speech is the primary instrument to mark the State Opening of Parliament, following the Commission Opening - featuring the swearing-in of MPs and election of the Speaker - on Tuesday.

"The new government is committed to delivering, to getting things done. It wants people to see demonstrable, measurable results that make their lives easier, and help them to get ahead," Kiro said in her opening remarks.

Cindy Kiro

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The speech noted the novel three-party coalition form the incoming government would be taking.

It spoke of the government's plan to work with "local government, businesses, community groups and iwi", saying more could be achieved by working together and that cooperation would "enable greater reach into communities, particularly those with high needs, to effect change".

"The government's aim is to improve outcomes for all New Zealanders, while leading a unified and confident country. The government will encourage independence and reward hard work, while retaining a comprehensive safety net for those in need of support."

It set out clear priorities:

  • careful spending of public money and rebuilding the economy
  • delivering tax relief
  • restoring law and order and personal responsibility
  • delivering more efficient public services
  • and strengthening democracy.

"Its policy programme will be extensive and ambitious, reflecting the amount of change necessary to provide hope and opportunity for more New Zealanders, and for this great nation to realise more of its potential," Kiro said.

As is usual custom, MPs will debate the speech in the House over the coming weeks, starting with the party leaders. This is expected to take over 20 hours of Parliament's time.

The speech is delivered after the Governor-General's messenger - the "Usher of the Black Rod" - knocks three times on the doors of the debating chamber, summoning the MPs inside to the Legislative Council Chamber, the room that used to house the equivalent of Britain's House of Lords until New Zealand's Parliament switched to a unicameral system in 1951.

The role of usher was carried out by New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Deputy Director Visits and Ceremonial Sandra McKie, who in the 2020 ceremony became the country's first woman to perform that function.

On Tuesday Parliament was formally opened and MPs were sworn in.

National's Gerry Brownlee was elected Speaker of the House.

The Governor-General's speech was delivered after Brownlee confirmed his election to MPs in the debating chamber, having been sworn in by Dame Cindy at Government House on Tuesday afternoon.

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