Honeymoon over for the PM?
Easter would have provided a welcome break for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after a string of mishaps, none of them of her own making but all eagerly seized on by the Opposition.
In what could be seen as the end of her honeymoon with the public and the media, Ardern has had to face a series of events starting with allegations of underage drinking and indecent assault at the Young Labour summer camp, extending through to the debacle involving the Minister for Broadcasting Clare Curran which led to the demise of the popular Carol Hirschfeld.
At first glance the Curran incident seems trivial, it was just a meeting at a cafe. The problem came in the fact she claimed it was a casual encounter when it had been in her diary for several days.
Unfortunately Hirschfeld, Radio New Zealand’s head of news, misled her employer about the meeting and was then forced to resign when that became known.
There is a background to the incident in that Labour had an election pledge to fund public broadcasting through Radio New Zealand and New Zealand On Air with $38 million. National has been claiming for some time that RNZ, headed by one-time Gisborne Herald journalist Paul Thompson, has leftist leanings.
There could therefore, in the Opposition’s opinion, have been a lot more in the coffee session.
Ardern also took criticism for her decision not to join many other countries in expelling Russian diplomats in response to the attempted poisoning of the Skripals in the United Kingdom.
She said there were no Russian spies in the country but in reality every major embassy, including friendly ones, would have staff members whose primary role would be to gather information.
Perhaps the issue of the previous week that reflected most on Ardern was the mixed messages she gave on the future of oil and gas exploration, on the same day.
In reality none of these situations is likely to cause too much harm to a popular Prime Minister who is about to start maternity leave. This sort of thing was only bumps on the road for John Key and Helen Clark, but a break is always welcome.