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A week of storms

Opinion Piece

While major storms were battering the Philippines and the Carolinas, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was moving to deal with entirely different political ones as the week came to a close.

The last few weeks have not been good for the coalition Government thanks more to its supposed friends than the Opposition.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was seemingly skilfully manoeuvring himself to the middle ground of New Zealand politics, the place all parties want to be.

After he raised doubts about the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, a cornerstone of Labour policy, a worse snub came in Parliament itself.

Labour’s Kelvin Davis had called a press conference for the announcement of the new Maori/Crown relations office, the media cameras were set up and then it had to be called off because New Zealand First raised last minute objections.

A delighted Opposition badgered Ardern with satirical questions in the House about who was actually running the country.

This all led up to yesterday’s announcement of Our Plan, a review of the government’s objectives coming after 11 months in office in which the three themes and 12 priority areas were outlined.

In reality, it was more of a PR exercise with three party leaders lined up in a somewhat contrived show of unity even though Winston Peters threatened to break the image by clashing with media at the following press conference while the Greens James Shaw has given what appeared to be a minor supporting role. No real new policy was actually announced.

So far Ardern has been sure footed in managing the differences between the three parties which she correctly describes as making up the country’s first real coalition government of the MMP area. The signs, however, are that this is going to be a continuing problem that will only increase as the 2020 election gets closer.

Still, she would not have to look far for company with both the new look Silver Ferns and All Blacks losing at the weekend. While that is not something she would want, it would be a welcome distraction taking away the attention of many New Zealanders.