The PM can take a breather by hob-nobbing with UN leaders on a global stage

It  may be  almost with a  sense of  relief that the PM flies off to New  York this weekend  and leaves  behind her all  the internal  discords  within  her government.

Jacinda  Ardern is going to the UN  to  strut her stuff on the world  stage, making the case for   global co-operation on combating climate change and inequality, supporting the rights of women and children and promoting fair global trading rules.

She will be promoting multi-lateralism and New Zealand’s interests at a wide range of speaking engagements, bilateral meetings, and media appearances.

Whether her key message for the week — the need for world  leaders to recommit to global rules — makes   much impact remains to be seen. But almost  certainly Ardern  will  command  so  much media   attention  she will be the envy   of  most of her peers.

During the week  she will engage in a range of bilateral discussions with fellow leaders and representatives including the UN Secretary, General António Guterres, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Anne Hathaway to advance issues around women and children and sustainable development.

Overshadowing  all of  this  will be  Ardern’s   media appearances: she will be appearing on the Today Show, undertaking a long form interview with Christiane Amanpour, and sitting on the couch on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about NZ country to a combined television audience of over 7 million people.

Fabulous   publicity  for  NZ  and  Ardern.   Almost certainly  it  will  do  much to erase the   political  horrors  of the  past  month  at  home.

Those   horrors   have been  contributing  to  a    questioning  of  how  the  PM  has  been   performing as   leader  of  the coalition  government.

Former politician Peter  Dunne,  who has   long experience of working within  coalitions,  has been  commenting this week that the claims of dysfunction against  the  (Ardern) government arise not from the method of its election, nor even its composition, but from its performance.

At the core of that is a perception that the Labour Party and its leader have become hostage to the demands of NZ First and its leader and that the Greens are being marginalised.”

Dunne  says the Prime Minister

” … has to be seen to have dealt to the factors given rise to the negative public perceptions. Asserting her leadership, and more importantly, being seen to be doing so is a critical part of that.

“To that end, a public rebuke, albeit well orchestrated, of her coalition partner on a particular issue might also be in order.

“Her decisiveness to date seems to have been limited to dealing with her own party. She needs to demonstrate unequivocally that she is the head of government, not just head of the largest party in the government.

“Her apparent unwillingness to ruffle coalition feathers is starting to work against her, especially since NZ First seems to have no such compunction about ruffling Labour’s feathers.

“Her stoicism to date is admirable, but cannot continue. She needs to be seen to be in charge, rather than just turning the other cheek”.

In  his  role   as   Acting  PM,   Winston  Peters   will be   on  his best  behaviour,  ensuring   he   doesn’t  give a   resurgent  Opposition   any fresh  ammunition  to   fire   while  Ardern   is  enjoying  the global  spotlight.   He’s  as   conscious   as  are those in Labour that the next  round of  political  opinion  polls  need  to  show  a bounce  in support for the coalition parties.

There’s  one  shadow  left   hovering  over the  government – that’s  whether  the  Curran  affair  has been  successfully  buried.

The government  has been  fortunate   that  Derek  Handley   has  taken  his  $100,000  compensation and  faded  from the  scene.  But there  is still lingering   some difficult   questions  in  those  yet to be published  emails  not   only  between Clare  Curran and Handley  but   from  Handley  to the PM.

And if  Ardern   stood   back  from  the  Handley appointment,  who was   it   that made the decision  he was not the man for the job?



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