Two fellow bloggers have referenced an article in Britain’s The Guardian, by Wellington-based political commentator and analyst Bryce Edwards, which critically examines the PM’s performance last year.
Political performance, not TV performance.
The article was headed New Zealand’s year of style over substance.
Edwards noted that the year just passed was supposed to be the Ardern government’s “Year of Delivery”
“ … or so Ardern declared to the press at the beginning of 2019. It was a neat line, because 2018 had been the ‘year of the working group’ in which little reform was carried out, on the promise that the experts would hand the government some major new policies to implement.
“However as 2019 rolled on and key promises such as KiwiBuild’s 100,000 affordable houses, a capital gains tax and alleviating child poverty failed to eventuate, the ‘Year of Delivery’ line became a stick with which to beat the government at every turn.
“We have now learned that Ardern’s ‘Year of Delivery’ promise was only ever a slick catchphrase dreamed up by a speechwriter, not Ardern herself.
“Last week Beehive insiders told leading political journalists that the ‘Year of Delivery’ promise was actually a spin-line produced on the fly by the PM’s top spin doctor to get his boss out of a tight situation when she needed something memorable to say at the start of 2019. The explanation from the Beehive was to convey that it’s not actually fair to hold the PM to account for a catchphrase that was never intended to be taken so seriously.”
On Kiwiblog, David Farrar says it’s good to know that the Government was never serious about actually delivering on their promises,
“ … and the Ardern promise was just a PR phrase her staff came up with.”
Down south, Ele Ludemann observes on Homepaddock:
“The year of delivery line was not just spin, it was really bad spin that dramatically over promised and completely failed to deliver.
“That is symptomatic of this government and its leader who are both very strong on style and very weak on substance.
“It provides great fodder for their political opponents and nothing but disappointment for the people who believe the spin and need the substance to improve their lives.”
The PM’s flair for performing for the cameras – a strength adroitly exploited by her spin doctors – was reflected, too, in her appearances with American comedian and “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert.
An RNZ article in November focused on the first episode of what Stephen Colbert said would be a week of coverage of a trip which began – really? – with Colbert being picked up from Auckland Airport by none other than the PM.
So far as we know, the government’s team of VIP chauffeurs were not on strike at the time.
Anyway, Ardern and Colbert
“ … engage in some back-and-forth, do some karaoke to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Mr Colbert accidentally disables Ms Ardern’s phone, and they’re spotted by another motorist on the way from the airport to her home.
“There, they’re straight into an interview.
“First question: ‘Can I be a citizen?’.”
You can watch it here.
Other topics included Ardern’s attempt to be cast in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand politeness and lack of snakes, Ardern’s engagement to Clarke Gayford, New Zealand elections, the Christchurch mosque attacks and gun law reform.
Colbert offered to be marriage celebrant for Ardern and Gayford, dared Ardern to call a snap election during the interview, and asked if lack of snakes or women getting the vote was more important for New Zealand.
As you can see, this was heady stuff and…
“Afterwards, they had what Mr Colbert called a ‘New Zealand state dinner of sausages and white bread’ – a barbecue.
“Musician Lorde joins the party and gets pranked by Mr Colbert – who’s still celebrating our lack of snakes.”
Tourism New Zealand said US broadcaster CBS had funded most of the trip, but taxpayers picked up the tab for accommodation, some tourism experiences and meals for the 16 crew.
Tourism New Zealand’s estimated total spend for hosting The Late Show was $104,000. Accommodation made up the majority of the cost, at $58,200, while another $19,100 was spent on attractions and activities. The tourism agency also covered some production expenses, spending $14,500.
Domestic travel for Colbert and his crew, whose itinerary included Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown, cost $7,900.
Tourism New Zealand said it expected the visit to generate an estimated $5 million worth of advertising revenue.
We found nothing to explain how this figure was calculated.
Nor did the bedazzled journalists note that Colbert could have comfortably afforded to pay his own way, if he really wanted to come here.
His annual salary is reported to be US$15 million, which works out at US$288,461.54 a week.
This converts to $428,599 a week in NZ dollar terms – not much less than Ardern’s annual salary.
Earlier this year Financial news company 24/7 Wall Street analysed publicly available annual compensation figures to rank the top earners among world leaders.
Ardern ranked seventh with a salary of NZ$471,049 a year. This made her the fifth highest-paid leader in all the OECD countries.
Colbert last year signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him at the Late Show desk until August 2023.
He reportedly secured a substantial salary bump.
Ardern gets her chance to win another three-year term as PM at the general election later this year.
Her facility for comfortably hobnobbing with world leaders and celebrities might be enough to satisfy a majority of voters. At Point of Order we would prefer she delivered the programmes she and/or her spin doctors promised last year.