The November 8th election gave National a strong win and, with United Future and ACT pre-election support, an outright majority.
The outgoing Prime Minister Helen Clark departed the Labour leadership without rancour. Her commitment to New Zealand cannot be doubted - even if we might debate the way she tried to implement it. Michael Cullen can take pride in a solid track record of debt repayment and a series of surpluses in the government accounts.
The new Labour leadership the Goff-King ticket will ensure a strong parliamentary opposition. It also helps Labour to rebuild support among those traditional supporters who opted to stay at home on election day.
For the incoming government the work is ahead of them. John Key has made a great start with assembling a new Ministry in eight days. He has wisely recruited the support of the Maori Party - as well as ACT. With smart strategic decisions we could be seeing a fundamental re-alignment of political loyalties in NZ politics. The challenge for National is to follow through with their policy programme and to build a strong platform for sustained economic growth, social cohesion and responsible stewardship of the environment.