Ardern government takes a dive, but Jackson’s acrobatics  are even more spectacular

The  Ardern Government  has  taken a hammering  in recent days.

The weird aspect is that it has largely done the damage to itself, with the Opposition left only to rub salt into the ugly wounds.

Pollsters have been on hand to measure the extent of the harm done.

First out this week was the  OneNews Kantar, which put Labour at 33%, behind National on 38%.

Then came Roy Morgan with Labour on 25.5% and  National on 38%.

The Hamilton West  byelection is  to  round  things off  on Saturday.

Where  previously  the Prime Minister had executed her somersaults gracefully, this time she  looked in danger as she performed the backflip  on  the Three Waters entrenchment clause.

Then  came Willie Jackson’s display  on  TV One’s Q+A show.

And what a display that was, aptly  described as a “trainwreck” interview (for which Jackson subsequently apologised).  

The NZ Herald wasn’t finished with it there: its political correspondent, Claire Trevett, worked it  over  again. She speculated  on Jackson’s chance of surviving a Cabinet reshuffle, which Ardern is due to announce  soon.

First up, she wrote, came Jackson’s interview on Q+A about the looming merger of RNZ and TVNZ and subsequent media questioning whether his sparring with Q+A host Jack Tame amounted to an attempt to get a TVNZ current affairs programme to toe the line on the merger.

At the same time Jackson was trying to get former National MP Simon Bridges appointed as chair of the merged public media entity, despite the PM and Deputy PM Grant Robertson voicing concerns about appointing a former politician to that role.

“Word of that made its way to the Herald last week. The Cabinet committee which weighs up senior appointments will consider it on Wednesday.

‘If Jackson actually likes the broadcasting portfolio (and he may not after this week), he couldn’t have picked a worst time for all of this. A reshuffle is coming up in a month or so. The PM is clearly not amused.

“The names of Jan Tinetti or Carmel Sepuloni are circulating as possible replacements to see the merger through.

“Jackson has tried to explain himself, putting the interview down to the ‘certain style’ he has. He issued what amounted to something of an apology for being Willie – with a hint of accusation that the media who took exception to the interview were being pearl clutchers. That may have an element of truth about that, but it’s the PM he needs to worry about”.

Trevitt  went on:

“But the critical factor is that he has put the media merger into the news.The Government is under fire for a lot of reforms in a lot of areas. Until now, the merger had ruffled feathers in  media circles, but has not exactly captured the attention or ire of the nation – and Ardern clearly wanted to keep it that way.

“So it was that on Monday night National MP Chris Penk tweeted a droll ‘things are going so badly for the Broadcasting Minister that the PM has expressed confidence in him.’

“Prime Ministers are usually only asked if they have confidence in a minister if that minister is either flailing or has done something naughty. Jackson was in between them.”

So after the interview on Sunday came a Talking-To from Ardern on Monday.

Then on Tuesday, as the PM was trying to say why the merger would be the saviour of public broadcasting in one media cluster, Jackson was a few metres away delivering his mea culpa.

As  Point of  Order  sees  it,  Jackson   should be  stripped of the broadcasting  portfolio, but chances are he will survive as a minister, if only because  Ardern won’t want to get offside  with the Maori caucus.

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