Perhaps we need Peters to temper the adulation and prevent the landslide re-election of the Ardern government

Jacinda Ardern and her  government  have  won global admiration  for  vanquishing the coronavirus.  At  home   their ratings   have soared.  Polls  show  more than  80%  of  those  sampled  support  the  way  the government  handled  the  pandemic  crisis.

New Zealanders  accept  without a blink the  virus is  universal  and  ubiquitous, a  threat to all humankind.  They  celebrate  how  as  part  of a team of  5 million   led  by  Ardern   (and Ashley  Bloomfield – whoever thought a public servants would become such a  cult  figure?)  they   repulsed  Covid-19.

There  is  adulation of  the  kindness  and compassion  displayed  by the  Prime Minister.

Other  governments, by  comparison,  have been  condemned for  their  bungling and  incompetence, the failures of   their  public  health systems,  and  death tolls criticised as needless.

Foreign affairs  commentator  Simon Tisdall  in The  Guardian  says  a  new  age of  revolution  is  dawning —  but  just  what  kind of  revolution it  may be    will rest on how the pandemic’s  shock waves and  after-effects are directed  and  shaped.

New Zealanders  may  like  to  think  they  can steer  clear of a looming  cataclysm,   of the kind  Tisdall  envisages.  The   bulk  of  them   accept that shutting   down  the  economy  as   tightly as  the  Ardern government did   was  appropriate, even    though the  impacts   are   deeply  unequal.  They    excoriate  those  who, like  the   economics  editor  of  The Australian  Adam Creighton, criticise  Ardern  and  her government’s  pandemic measures.

Creighton   wrote  in  his  newspaper   earlier this  week NZ’s  response  to  Covid-19  was  “draconian”.

“No national leader has been as feted as Jacinda Ardern during this pandemic. But while she might have popular support, the facts are she is pushing the NZ economy off a cliff.”

He said despite NZ being an island with a “massive moat and a small population spread over an area the size of Italy”, the “stringency of its lockdown was higher than practically any other country, according to Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government”.

Creighton’s   column,  reprinted   in NZ,  attracted  so  much  vituperative  social  media commentary  that TV3’s  AM Show  on  Friday  morning invited    him to   respond.  He told   its  viewers  he  wrote  it after seeing the immense international praise being heaped on to Ardern during the pandemic.

The economic costs of the shutdown are just extraordinary.”

Creighton  pointed   out  in  his column that

” …   the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, who have not worked in the private sector, spruik the totems of modern left governments — renewable energy, trees, higher tax, equality — but without much to show for it.

“Plans for a billion trees and 100,000 houses have come close to almost naught and a capital-gains tax was dumped.   Labour made a song and dance about reducing child poverty, too, but on six out of nine measures tracked by Statistics NZ it is unchanged or worse since 2017, including the share of children living in material hardship, which has risen to 13.4%.”

So  will  the political  mood  hold  as   firm  as  it appears to be  through to  the election?

Labour  pundits   are  convinced  it  will:  the election,  they  believe,     will  result  in  a  landslide   for  Labour.   It  might  easily have  the  kind of majority enabling it to govern  on its own.

That   possibility   may  have   drifted  on  to  the  horizon   of  NZ  First.    Leader  Winston Peters,   who  fully   backed  the decision to  shut  down  the  economy,  now  suddenly  perceives   what  might be  happening.

His reaction was to  come out   this week  insisting  the  economic  fall-out   from  Covid-19  is  now the enemy, not the virus  itself.

Asked  when   NZ  should move to alert level 1, he  replied:  “Yesterday”.

What?

Perhaps  Peters  had been  told of  the   survey   showing  80%  of  households  are on  the  edge  of  financial  crisis.

The   Finance  Minister’s    answer,    of  course, is   to  circle  over  those households  and     shower them  with  money  forwarded to  him  on behalf of the  taxpayers by the Reserve  Bank.

But  the  problem   is that  so many  New Zealanders   are  now so anxious about the pending  economic recession    they   don’t  want to  spend   it.   The   less  people  spend, the faster the  economy shrinks.

If  many  more   bosses   are  forced to  say  “Don’t  come  Monday”,   there is  no  enthusiasm  even  for a  round of  farewell  drinks.

Day  after  day, the   job  losses  mount:  14,000  by the  NZ Herald’s   count of those   reported  in   the  media.

It’s here  that Winston  Peters   sees  an   opportunity:  he   believes  the  coalition  government should  re-open  the   door to international  students   ( who  in  the years  before  Covid-19 added  about $5bn a  year to   the NZ  economy).  He  thinks   NZ is ready to  receive them  now   and  international students should be given  “the  green light as  soon   as possible”.

Peters’     enthusiasm    to  encourage   the re-entry  of  international  students  will be  welcomed  by  university  administrators.   But there    may be   some  among  NZ  First’s erstwhile  supporters   who recall   how Peters   used to carry  on   about   foreigners   taking  NZers’  jobs.

Isn’t he  on record  as  saying many overseas students were “ … behind counters in supermarkets and working in service stations

“……Kiwi workers now face more unfair competition for jobs, which are not in abundance.

“The official unemployment rate is 140,000 and about a quarter of young Maori and Pasifika do not have a job.  Student visas should not be used to flood the job market, drive down wages and undermine conditions and increase the already record number of permanent immigrants.”

Point  of   Order  accepts   Peters  has  always  been  a  consummate  politician:  perhaps he  senses  that  by   beating  the economic  drum  as he  has done,   he  can  win  over  enough   onetime   National   voters   for  NZ  First to  climb  above  the  5%  threshold.

After all,  without  Peters  acting   as a  brake  on  Labour,  who   knows   what  kind of revolution  a  second-term Ardern  government with  a whopping majority might inflict on  the country?

4 thoughts on “Perhaps we need Peters to temper the adulation and prevent the landslide re-election of the Ardern government

  1. We’ve got this government because of Peters. Suggesting people vote for him to temper the Labour/Green agenda is promoting the arsonist to take some of the heat out of the fire. We can’t afford another term of this government. Far better to vote for a National/Act government and get the country working again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree Labour is not what it’s cracked up to be. They failed on all promises and some. Ardern (sorry Pam missy ardern) and young Winny are just a bunch of no hopers that couldn’t run a corner dairy between them. And people believe in those numb sculls? When are people going to wake up?, and when are they going to attempt to make sure that the PEOPLE run this country, NOT the government of the day, ’cause they are NOT capable of it! National coalition?, well I don’t know, but anything is better than this bunch of idiots that calls themselves government, what a joke.

    Like

    1. The ‘people’ can never run government while a ‘party’ system exists. MP’s standing as individuals with free votes in a parliament under an elected President, together with the insurance of Binding Citizen Initiated Referenda, will ensure the people get a government they deserve, and politicians of every shade will work for their electorates, not the vested interests inherent in the party political system.

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