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Leaders have plenty to ponder

Opinion Piece

A week that was heaven sent for news junkies has left the leaders of the two main political parties with plenty to ponder.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern faces a major diplomatic challenge in how to deal with China, which has put the squeeze on New Zealand with a veiled threat to the tourist industry and trade relationship.

While the situation is far from hopeless it does need attention and she has not been helped by some of the statements from Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

On a brighter note the Newshub-Reid Research poll had Labour on 47.5 percent, well clear of National on 41.6 percent — and raised the tantalising prospect of being able to govern with the Greens alone.

It was another headache for Simon Bridges, who must be uncomfortable that Judith Collins was ahead of him as preferred prime minister.

In other news, the Government unveiled a plan to combine the country’s 16 polytechnics into one.

KiwiBuild had a fillip at last with an attack ad from National misfiring to an extent, when there was criticism that the young blonde woman to whom it was being explained was portrayed as a dunderhead.

Rugby fans would have been relieved to hear that Spark has a back-up plan of free-to-air television if its broadcast of World Cup matches hits technical difficulties.

The Salvation Army annual report heightened continuing inequality, drug abuse and suicide rates, and was not pleasant reading for the Government.

On that note, mental health advocate and former comedian Mike King was made New Zealander of the Year and announced the founding of Gumboot Day on April 5, when people can wear gumboots to work and make a donation.

This was always going to be a decisive year for the coalition Government and as it gets under way, it is not disappointing.

New Zealand news tended to overshadow the world scene for once although British PM Theresa May lost yet another vote on a Brexit deal, with the country’s exit from the EU now just over a month away, while US Donald Trump moved to declare a state of emergency to fund a wall on the Mexican border.