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Election 2017 - game on

Opinion Piece

With a week of turmoil for the country’s two largest parties on the left ended yesterday, the battle lines have been cleared for the coming election — which looks like it will be a cliff-hanger.

Jacinda Ardern’s rise to lead the Labour Party has certainly revitalised it, while natural coalition partner the Greens have suffered a reverse.

Further revelations by co-leader Metiria Turei about gaming the welfare system in the 1990s, and registering at a false address to vote for a friend — leading to her announcement she would not seek a Cabinet post — has hurt the Green Party just as her initial admission had helped it record its highest polling ever.

Most Green supporters will see her actions as brave and honest; not for them the social media storm demanding her resignation. However, a good number of past Labour supporters who went Green will return to the fold.

So the two parties will continue to cannibalise each other’s votes, although Labour will be expecting fresh support as well thanks to the Jacinda effect. Coming polls that factor in last week’s developments will be fascinating.

In any case, there will be no more distractions from Super Rugby thanks to the Crusader’s magnificent win on the high veldt. The bigger game can really start now, and it did yesterday afternoon with the two main party leaders announcing vastly different transport plans for Auckland in quick succession.

The past week saw the death of Sir John Graham, All Black captain and educationalist, the sort of modest and trustworthy individual New Zealanders admire.

It also saw the retirement from public events of the 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen’s husband certainly deserves his pension — since 1952 he has carried out 22,219 solo engagements and visited New Zealand 14 times, four of them on his own. Even staunch republicans can’t criticise that workload.

Donald Trump flew off to his New Jersey private golf course for 17 days on what his aides are calling a working holiday. However he was outdone for a holiday image by a shirtless Vladimir Putin trying once again to look like a Russian version of Bear Grylls.