Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Time for a sober discussion about toxicity and personality in politics

  • Dr Bryce Edwards writes:

Since her shock resignation announcement, Jacinda Ardern has been at pains to point out that she isn’t leaving because of the toxicity directed at her on social media and elsewhere, rebutting journalists who suggested misogyny and hate may have driven her from office.

Yet there have been dozens of columns and articles, both domestically and internationally, blaming toxic public criticism for Ardern choosing to step down.

Rising toxicity and polarisation

Although some of the claims about Ardern being hounded from office by “deplorables” are questionable, they reflect the reality of rising toxicity and ugliness in New Zealand politics in recent years. And in terms of the hate that has been directed at Ardern, a substantial proportion of this is clearly gendered. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Time for a sober discussion about toxicity and personality in politics”

Tribute has been paid to Titewhai Harawira but Beehive has missed govt response to the CPI and Crown Accounts

Buzz from the Beehive

Hurrah.  Today we found something fresh on the Beehive website, Beehive.govt.nz, which claims to be the best place to find Government initiatives, policies and Ministerial information.

It wasn’t from Finance Minister Grant Robertson, whose reaction to the latest inflation figures would have been appreciated.

So, too, would have been his reaction to  the latest Crown financial statements.

But no.

The only statement posted on the Beehive website since January 19 came from  Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson, who paid tribute to Titewhai Harawira – Continue reading “Tribute has been paid to Titewhai Harawira but Beehive has missed govt response to the CPI and Crown Accounts”

Alas, we must rely on the media to find what our leaders said while pitching for the Maori vote at Ratana

Buzz from the Beehive

A great deal has happened since January 19.

Among other things, a new Prime Minister and deputy have been sworn in and our leaders (past, present and aspiring) have delivered speeches at Ratana.

Newshub reported that politicians of all stripes had descended upon Rātana for the unofficial start of the political year.

Jacinda Ardern has delivered her final speech as Prime Minister on Tuesday afternoon, following remarks from incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

National leader Christopher Luxon was also at Rātana for the first time. He was welcomed alongside Te Pāti Māori on Tuesday morning.

Luxon – you will learn much further down in the Newshub report – delivered a speech, too.

But the spotlight was turned first on Ardern: Continue reading “Alas, we must rely on the media to find what our leaders said while pitching for the Maori vote at Ratana”

Our politicians have swarmed to Ratana where Hipkins may cause some buzz when he explains his co-governance thinking

Buzz from the Beehive

Yet another day has passed without Ministers of the Crown posting something to show they are still working for us on the Beehive website. Nothing new has been posted since January 17.

 Perhaps the ministers are all engaged in the bemusing annual excursion by politicians of many stripes and a pack of political journalists to Rātana, a small pā between Whanganui and Bulls.

As Stuff explains in a report today, the pā is home to the Rātana Church, a movement started by Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana about a century ago.

 Followers of Te Haahi Rātana and politicians from across Parliament travel to Rātana, to celebrate the birthday of the prophet, Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana​, who founded the faith. He was born on January 25, 1873​.

Although politicians tend to stay at Rātana for just one day, the celebration lasts an entire week.

This year, politicians are visiting on Tuesday ahead of the major church celebrations on Wednesday.

 Politicians seems to have become impelled to pay homage to this Ratana fellow because…

From the 1930s, Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana harnessed the power of his church to influence Parliament, setting out to have Rātana members win the Māori electorates.

When they succeeded, he instructed the Rātana MPs to support Labour and, at the time, leader of the Opposition Michael Joseph Savage.

 This was the start of a powerful alliance between Rātana and Labour.

But:

Although the political relationship started with Labour, parties from across Parliament now visit Rātana.

Their speeches tend to be the start of the political year, as politicians return after their summer break.

We can only wonder why the Nats bother to turn up and try to curry favour. They have never won a Maori seat and are never likely to win one.  

We do know why the media have turned up in force.

As RNZ reported today, Jacinda Ardern will deliver her final speech as prime minister this afternoon at Rātana Pā . 

Incoming Labour leader Chris Hipkins will then follow. National leader Christopher Luxon will also attend the event Tuesday morning for the first time.

The annual political pilgrimage traditionally marks the beginning of the political year, though Ardern’s announcement last week saw that superseded.

The event will serve as a de facto farewell for Ardern and a test of both Hipkins’ and Luxon’s connection with Māoridom.

Ardern’s last speech?

We looked for it on the Beehive website.

It isn’t there yet.

We looked, too, for Hipkins’ speech and for signs of how he will be handling the highly contentious issues of Three Waters and, more fascinating, co-governance (which he says has not been explained properly).

His speech hasn’t been posted on the Beehive website, either.

But on the Homepaddock website, we were reminded of Hipkins’ thinking at the time (not too long ago) when the Government attempted to entrench part of the Five Waters legislation .

Homepaddock huffs that this was an abuse of power and an attempt to pervert democracy.

The post then reminds us of who said what, according to the Hansard record of the debate attempting to undo the mess.

SIMON WATTS (National—North Shore): Thank you very much, Madam Chair. It’s a pleasure to rise to speak on Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) 310. And isn’t it ironic that we’re back here in the House when only a few—or literally last week, or the week before, we were in here under urgency undertaking a debate in the committee of the whole House stage lasting nearly 10 hours and a debate that went well into the night and bright and early in the next morning. But the fact is, we’re here today because of, basically, a significant mistake that was made on that evening. And there should be lessons that are taken from what occurred at that point from the Government, in terms of the decisions that were made and the impact of that decision, in terms of the controversial nature of it—and also, I think, what was a dangerous precedent in terms of our democracy. . . 

So I go back to my questions to the Minister: how did we get to where we are today? This is not a new concept. Never in the history of this country have we seen an ability or an action by a Government to try and institute entrenchment around such public policy. This was well understood. So what does that say about this Government and their ability to make decisions and to lead this country into the future? Whether this mistake was deliberate, or simply one where Government of the day here did not care—irrespective; it doesn’t matter. The reality is the decision was made, the vote was taken, and we are now dealing with a colossal mess of having to reverse that change and that is completely inappropriate in a democracy such as ours in this country—one of the earliest and longest-lasting democracies—to have that occur. 

NICOLA WILLIS (Deputy Leader—National): Today we have the grovelling back-down, but the stain on our democracy, the damage to our constitution, will remain. And that must sit on the conscience of the members opposite, who sought, under urgency, in the dark of the night, to entrench a policy position against all constitutional norms, against all democratic norms. Not content with confiscating community – owned water assets, not content with introducing a byzantine co-governance structure without the support of the people, not content with riding roughshod over the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who have spoken out against three waters reform, of the councils up and down the country who have begged to maintain ownership and control of their assets, this Government thought it would push its votes even further. And it took the extraordinary, unprecedented, non-constitutional step of entrenching a matter of public policy.

Hon Chris Hipkins: It’s not non-constitutional, otherwise it wouldn’t have passed.

NICOLA WILLIS: And these are not my words, Minister Hipkins. These are the words of the New Zealand Law Society, who said that it was undemocratic, constitutionally objectionable, and inappropriate. And be that on the conscience of the members opposite, that when given the opportunity that is how they sought to abuse their seats in Parliament. . . 

Now, I think my colleague Simon Watts has been charitable. He’s accepted that this was a grand and incompetent mistake. I’m inclined to see something a little darker going on here, which is that the members opposite thought they could get away with it—they thought they could get away with it. That is the arrogance that has set in to this Government—that they are prepared to thumb their noses at basic principles of our democracy if they think they can get away with it. Well, they got caught this time. They tried doing it under urgency, they tried doing it at night, and they got caught. And I say thank you to the constitutional experts and lawyers across the country who raised the red flag and said, “No, not in our New Zealand.” Because we can too easily take for granted the principles that have underpinned the continuous democracy that we have in this country, the unwritten constitution which has been respected by blue Governments, red Governments, and all the bits in between, but it took a Labour-led Government with its majority to abuse those principles.

And today in the House, they attempt to turn back the clock. Well, New Zealand will not forget, because those who are prepared to act in an antidemocratic way when they think people aren’t watching, they are people that can’t be trusted. And this is not the first step. First they came for one person, one vote with the Rotorua bill. Then they decided to push on with three waters without public mandate nor council consent. Then they went for entrenchment. New Zealanders will remember. And when you’ve woken up and decided who you’re going to blame, they’ll be listening and they will remember that the only people to blame are the Labour Party, its leadership, and every member opposite. . . 

The leader has changed but the rest of the caucus has not, Homepaddock points out.

They’ll be trying to convince us they can be trusted to have another term.

The only way to ensure they can’t abuse voters’ trust is to vote them out.

The Homepaddock post gives us a welcome reminder of Hipkins’ feeble grasp of what is constitutionally acceptable and what is not.  

 

 

When Sepuloni finds time to check on the latest benefit stats, perhaps she will explain what has been happening on her watch

Buzz from the Beehive

Again we must report that nothing fresh has been posted on the Beehive website since 19 January, when Jacinda Ardern announced the General Election will be held on 14 October and her resignation as Prime Minister.

But we are eagerly awaiting the posting of a statement by Carmel Sepuloni, the new deputy prime minister, which will update a statement she posted on 20 January last year headed Quarterly benefit numbers show highest number of exits into work.

As Minister of Social Development and Employment, she was commenting a year ago on data reported in the Benefit Fact Sheets from her department for the December 2021 Quarter.

She brayed that the Government’s strong focus on supporting more people into work was reflected in benefit figures released at that time which showed a year-on-year fall of around 21,300 people receiving a main benefit in the December 2021 quarter.

 “Our response to COVID has helped to create a resilient labour market which in turn has ensured our economy remains strong. Protecting jobs and livelihoods, and supporting more jobseekers into work will continue to be a key priority of the Government,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Continue reading “When Sepuloni finds time to check on the latest benefit stats, perhaps she will explain what has been happening on her watch”

The Hipkins bit of the conjecture about Labour’s leadership has been settled – now for the deputy’s job (and diversity)

Buzz from the Beehive

Because our hard-working Ministers of the Crown are engaged in Labour Party caucus stuff in Napier, no doubt jockeying to ensure they keep their jobs or get a better one, Point of Order was not surprised to find no fresh news on the Beehive website this morning.

Nothing has been posted since January 19, when we learned –

General Election to be held on 14 October 2023

The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

And:

 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces resignation

Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

This second post led to a flurry of media scribblings and babblings about why Ardern had quit and who would succeed her. Continue reading “The Hipkins bit of the conjecture about Labour’s leadership has been settled – now for the deputy’s job (and diversity)”

A scourge of cockroaches might be among the culprits as commentators conjecture on the PM’s decision to quit

Buzz from the Beehive

There has been nothing fresh on the Beehive website, since Jacinda Ardern gave us a double whammy yesterday –  the announcement of her  resignation and the date (14 October) of the General Election.

But the mainstream media won’t be unduly bothered.  The first of the two posts yesterday looks likely to keep their political reporters and the commentariat busy for some time, mainly with conjecture and speculation about why she really resigned, who will succeed her, how the election campaign will be affected, and so on. 

Her own statement explained: Continue reading “A scourge of cockroaches might be among the culprits as commentators conjecture on the PM’s decision to quit”

Yes, the PM did have something to say in Napier – NZ will go to the polls on 14 October (without her leading Labour’s campaign)

Buzz from the Beehive

Hard on the heels of our Buzz from the Beehive earlier today, the PM has made two announcements – the 2023 general election will be held on Saturday 14 October and she will not be campaigning to win a third term as Prime Minister.   She will be stepping down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party.

Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

It turns out we were remarkably prescient with the headline on our earlier post: If you are looking for the PM, try Napier – and for good measure she might have something to say.

She did have something to say – something much more momentous than (fair to say) your Point of Order team had expected.

Our earlier post noted that Jacinda Ardern had posted nothing on the Beehive website in the first 18 days of 2023 (but nor had most of her colleagues). Continue reading “Yes, the PM did have something to say in Napier – NZ will go to the polls on 14 October (without her leading Labour’s campaign)”

If you are looking for the PM, try Napier – and for good measure she might have something to say

Buzz from the Beehive

We drew another blank, when we checked the Beehive website this morning for ministerial announcements, pronouncements or denouncements.  Nothing has been posted since January 16, when Damien O’Connor announced he was travelling to Europe this week to discuss the role of agricultural trade in climate change and food security, WTO reform and New Zealand agricultural innovation.

We last heard from the PM on December 31 when  she issued two statements – Frontline workers to receive COVID-19 Response Award and New Year honours recipients highlight what makes NZ unique.

This does not mean the PM has not at least thought about her job over the holiday period.

A bundle of media reports suggest she has been busy working on how best to get her team into shape for the general election later this year and polishing her policy programme to optimise its appeal to the public. Continue reading “If you are looking for the PM, try Napier – and for good measure she might have something to say”