PM says there’s not much to learn from by-elections – but Tauranga voters weren’t signalling an end to Labour’s slide in popularity

The  Tauranga by-election confirmed  Labour’s slide  in popularity, with  its  candidate,  the  newly promoted Cabinet minister Jan Tinetti, winning only 25%  of  the  vote, 14%  less  than  in 2020.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn’t  see  it  that  way.  She  said  Tinetti received one of the better results the party has recorded in Tauranga in a number of decades.

In somewhat convoluted English, she further said:

“I think actually for by-elections, it’s very hard to read into them as someone who’s run in a by-election myself because it’s just simply not the same as in general elections, you don’t often have every party represented, so I’m not quick to read into individual outcomes.”

Tinetti came in with a very similar proportion of the vote to the support Labour received in Tauranga when it became the government in 2017, Ardern said.

But it was difficult to extrapolate too many lessons from by-elections, she said.

“Of course hearing from Jan and what she was hearing and experiencing, we listen to that in the same way as what we hear and experience with all of our MPs and every Tuesday we reflect on that in our caucus meeting.” Continue reading “PM says there’s not much to learn from by-elections – but Tauranga voters weren’t signalling an end to Labour’s slide in popularity”

A Cabinet reshuffle must be among the options as Ardern considers how to halt growing public disenchantment

After the excitement of her US visit and White  House call, PM Jacinda Ardern is  now  engaged in  the  harsh realities of  running  a  government that  appears  to be  crumbling  by  the  week.

Ministers  are  tripping  over  themselves – this  week it  was Police Minister Poto Williams who became the   butt  of  Opposition calls  for her  to be  sacked.  Then there  were  the  polls charting  a  governing party’s  falling popularity, despite  a huge spend-up  in the latest budget.

The One News Kantar poll at the end of  May put Labour’s  support  down  at 35%. Then came the Roy Morgan poll which had Labour even lower, at 31.5%.

This is  the sixth Roy Morgan sampling to  show  there would be a change of  government  if there were an election now.  According to Ipsos polling, people rate  National as  more capable than Labour on four out of the five top issues – inflation, housing, health care, petrol prices and  crime).

Just what Labour’s own polling is indicating is being kept a party secret, but it is possibly even grimmer than the public polls because in desperation the  party has been using social media to try  to discredit National’s Christopher Luxon, who had succeeded in hitting the  government  where it hurt by drumming  on the themes  of a cost-of-living crisis and the need for   tax  cuts   in  the  budget. Continue reading “A Cabinet reshuffle must be among the options as Ardern considers how to halt growing public disenchantment”

Woods scores a new portfolio (apparently) while the Govt gives Wallabies a free pass through our Covid defences

We were reminded yesterday of an article published by The Spinoff on 1 August last year headed Megan Woods, the minister for everything.

The article referred to her “slew of portfolios”.

It kicked off by saying Woods’ public profile

“… has exploded thanks to her new role as the minister in charge of border isolation and quarantine, but Megan Woods has long been known as the most reliable pair of hands in government.”

After the election Woods was appointed Minister of Housing, Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, as well as Associate Minister of Finance.

As Housing Minister, she was keen to inform us yesterday about how she and her government are keeping people warm.  And today she made an announcement as Minister of …

Well, see for yourself: Continue reading “Woods scores a new portfolio (apparently) while the Govt gives Wallabies a free pass through our Covid defences”

The new Cabinet: PM is focused on beating Covid-19 and rejuvenating the economy as she names her team

The Prime Minister’s press statement announcing her new Cabinet (400 or so words) has been posted on The Beehive website.  The speech she delivered when naming the cabinet (1780 words) has not.

Indeed, no ministerial speeches have been posted on the website since October 10, when David Parker posted the speech he delivered to a global audience as Minister of Trade and Export Growth.  (New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020).

Because of the press statement’s comparative brevity, it mentions many fewer names than were mentioned in the speech (although it does provide a link to the full ministerial list).

The press statement most notably does not include the names of Kelvin Davis (or the explanation in the speech about why he won’t be deputy prime minster) or Phil Twyford (but there is no mention in the speech, either, about his slippage to the rank of minister outside of cabinet).

As Ardern impressed in her speech:

“The Cabinet will have two overarching priorities: to continue our health response to keep New Zealanders safe from COVID-19, and to drive our economic recovery and ensure we take the opportunity we have in front of us to build back better.” Continue reading “The new Cabinet: PM is focused on beating Covid-19 and rejuvenating the economy as she names her team”

For the record – Winston will be missed as Minister of Foreign Affairs

Just for the record, our Latest from the Beehive Monitor has nothing to report this morning.

Actually, it has had nothing to report since October 15, when Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker announced that the Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days after it had been ratified by the required eight countries. 

We imagine the occupants of the Beehive have been busy electioneering or some such, at least until Election Day, which explains the lack of Beehive announcements over the past week.And since Saturday night they will have been celebrating (if they are Labour or Green Ministers) or commiserating if not sulking (if they are New Zealand First Ministers).

The New Zealand First lot must return to Wellington, of course, but only to clear out their offices.   The pundits meanwhile are busy speculating on who will get what job in the new ministry.

Whoever gets Foreign Affairs – let us declare – will have a hard act to follow.  Winston Peters has done a splendid job in that portfolio and will be missed.

On the other  hand, the Point of Order Trough Monitor will not be kept quite so busy after Shane Jones is replaced as Minister of Regional Economic Development. 

The Provincial Growth Fund is being replaced by something with much less money in it, if we recall Jacinda Ardern’s policy pronouncements correctly.  And Labour doesn’t have to throw big bucks around to win the support of the regions because it won that support – with a vengeance – at the weekend.

A final thought for now.  Couldn’t we simply have a Minister of Trade, rather than a Minister of Trade and Export Growth?

The Minister of Education isn’t the Minister of Education and Brighter Students and the Minister of Health isn’t the Minister of Health and Improved Wellbeing.

 

Jacindarella – the challenges include reconciling an urge for radical change while keeping centrist voters happy  

In  an insightful  essay   on the New Zealand  elections,  the  London  Economist  noted  polls  suggested  a  fairy tale  outcome  for the  incumbent  prime  minister.  It  carried  the  simple heading  “Jacindarella”.

The article recounts  how  Jacinda  Ardern’s staff ran   into  a  problem   after she  declared NZ  free of the coronavirus in June.  It  was  impossible  to keep   the prime minister  on   schedule, they  griped,  because she was  constantly  mobbed  by supporters.  One eulogizer   at the  party’s convention declared her  “our  nation’s  saviour”.

Even  after a  modest  resurgence  of the  disease, New Zealanders  continued to  commend Ardern for  averting the worst.  She  closed  their borders  to  foreigners  and  rallied  “a  team of 5m”  to  support one of the toughest  lockdowns  in the  world.  As  a  result NZ  has recorded only  25 deaths  from Covid-19.

All  this  puts the prime minister on  track  for a   big  victory  in an election  on  October  17….What makes this  all the  more striking  is that  before the  pandemic,  Ardern  was  on  track  to lose the election.  She  came into  office with  lofty  plans to build a fairer,  better  NZ  by  reducing  child poverty, ending  homelessness  and erecting  100,000  cheap houses,  none of  which  she managed to do” . Continue reading “Jacindarella – the challenges include reconciling an urge for radical change while keeping centrist voters happy  “

Cabinet’s challenge is to strike the right balance between halting contagion and getting Kiwis back to work

Finance Minister Grant Robertson trots out the phrase “go hard, go early”  in the battle against  Covid-19,  as  often as he used to declare  the  underlying fundamentals of  the  NZ  economy  are  “strong”.

Meanwhile   Health Minister  David  Clark   says   responding to  Covid-19   is a  “marathon,  not a  sprint”.

But  New Zealand  didn’t  “go early”.   The  Ministry  of   Health  on  January  24,  the  day after China  locked down  the  huge  city of  Wuhan because of the  outbreak of the disease,  said the  likelihood of a  sustained outbreak in  NZ  is  “low”.

It maintained that  line for  a month.  There was no  visible sign of the  ministry calling on ministers to scale up  stocks of relevant equipment, take precautions in retirement  homes,   or   increase the  number of Intensive Care Unit beds  and ventilators. Continue reading “Cabinet’s challenge is to strike the right balance between halting contagion and getting Kiwis back to work”