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Wet end to busy week in politics

Opinion Piece

A wet Queen’s Birthday holiday firmly announced the arrival of winter and brought a tumultuous week in New Zealand politics to a close. It also fortunately brought an escape for a Tolaga Bay trio trapped on their roof after heavy rain.

The week started with the Government’s bold decision to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from dairy herds, followed soon after by news that many millions of dollars had been wasted testing and remedying houses where methamphetamine had been smoked. Thousands of Housing NZ tenants had been needlessly moved from their homes while hundreds of houses were vacant at a time when demand was at record levels.

Meanwhile the Government announced a comprehensive review of the country’s health system led by Heather Simpson, Helen Clark’s capable former staffer. This is due to be completed by January 2020, soon before the next election.

To complete a miserable week for dairy farmers, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said on television’s Q+A that New Zealand was at “peak cow” and the Government would enforce regulations more strictly.

Meanwhile Minister of Justice Andrew Little announced plans to scrap the three strikes legislation and make changes to bail laws, leaving him exposed to the intransigent law and order sector.

Former Prime Minister Bill English emerged with a Queen’s Birthday Honours knighthood after a historic awards round that saw a majority of women recognised for the first time.

His successor Simon Bridges will be anxiously awaiting the result of this Saturday’s Northcote by-election. Anything short of a convincing win in a safe National seat will put more pressure on his leadership.

At least the dramatic rescue inland from Tolaga Bay put a positive note to severe flooding made significantly more dangerous and no doubt costly by huge volumes of forestry slash and logs inundating waterways.

Meanwhile for the rest of us it was a case of being philosophical about a weekend to forget weather-wise, and one that sent a grim warning to Gisborne District Council of what may lie ahead for its already embattled roading system.