Twin blows dent confidence in ministerial ranks, so will  they affect morale among party faithful?

Is  the  government imploding?

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins  has  had  to sack  one of his  more effective (and  likeable) ministers, while another  (from the Green Party)  has  insulted  many of  the  adult  population.

For  his  part, Hipkins had appeared to  be shaping  up well since he took over the top job. Furthermore, he has been succeeding in turning  around Labour’s plunging poll ratings.

But  now  with the Nash disaster  and the Davidson insult, alongside  the nationwide strikes of  teachers, plus  the cost-of-living crisis, it may take  something  of  a  political miracle to recover.

Stuart  Nash was  already on a final warning, when Stuff revealed he had emailed business figures, including donors, detailing private Cabinet discussions. Hipkins said the most recent scandal was “inexcusable” and this incident alone would have seen Nash sacked.

He described the call as “black and white”, but he was still “gutted” to see Nash go.

Continue reading “Twin blows dent confidence in ministerial ranks, so will  they affect morale among party faithful?”

Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s  talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has left for Beijing for the first ministerial visit to China since 2019.

Mahuta is  to  meet China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang  where she  might have to call on all the  diplomatic skills  at  her  command.

Almost certainly she  will  face  questions  on what  role NZ  might  seek  to  play in the AUKUS defence pact involving Australia, the UK and the US.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Council co-ordinator for the Indo Pacific, Kurt Campbell, was  reported  this week as saying the US is looking for other working group partners now that the ‘critical components’ of the Indo-Pacific alliance have been launched. Continue reading “Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s  talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister”

CHRIS TROTTER:  Te Pāti Māori’s uncompromising threat to the status quo

  • Chris Trotter writes –

The Crown is a fickle friend. Any political movement deemed to be colourful but inconsequential is generally permitted to go about its business unmolested. The Crown’s media, RNZ and TVNZ, may even “celebrate” its existence (presumably as proof of Democracy’s broad-minded acceptance of diversity).

Should the movement’s leader(s) demonstrate a newsworthy eccentricity, then they may even find themselves transformed into political celebrities. The moment a political movement makes the transition from inconsequentiality to significance, however, then all bets are off – especially if that significance is born of a decisive rise in its parliamentary representation.

Te Pāti Māori (TPM) is currently on the cusp of making that crucial transition from political novelty to political threat. The decision of the former MP for Waiariki, Labour’s Tamati Coffey, to step away from his parliamentary career at the end of the current term will be welcome news to TPM’s male co-leader, Rawiri Waititi, who took the seat from Coffey in 2020. There is a good chance, now, for Waititi to turn the Māori seat of Waiariki into TPM’s anchor electorate.

Continue reading “CHRIS TROTTER:  Te Pāti Māori’s uncompromising threat to the status quo”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Labour’s refocus is working

  • Dr Bryce Edwards writes –     

Labour’s shift in focus is working. Under Jacinda Ardern they were a party and government focused on the voters and ideologies of liberal Grey Lynn and Wellington Central. Now under Prime Minister Chris Hipkins Labour has a laser-like focus directed at the working class politics of places like West Auckland and the Hutt Valley. That’s the pragmatic thinking behind the bold redirection of their policy priorities towards the cost-of-living crisis.
It’s paying off in the polls. Last night’s 1News Kantar poll showed Labour in front of National again, and personal support for Hipkins escalating. His preferred prime minister ratings were up four points to 27 per cent, while rival Christopher Luxon’s were down five points to just 17 per cent.
The poll also asked the public what issue would most likely influence their vote, and 48 per cent chose “cost of living”, way ahead of climate change on only 12 per cent. This is in line with the recent Ipsos poll, which showed that a record 65 per cent believed that cost of living is the top issue for the country at the moment. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Labour’s refocus is working”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Big “consultocrats” debate needs to carry on

* Dr Bryce Edwards writes –

A parasitic blight on our democracy? Or a useful and necessary aid to our government departments? Those are two perspectives on the usefulness of the Wellington consultant class that contract to government agencies.

The role of business management consultants took centre stage last week when National’s Christopher Luxon called time on the over-use of “consultocrats” in his state of the nation speech. Luxon pledged to cut the use of contractors by 25 per cent off the $1.7bn that was spent last year by government departments and agencies such as Te Whatu Ora and Waka Kotahi.

Jackpot for National, disaster for Labour

The debate has proved to be a winner for National, as they have been able to dominate the last week in politics on an issue that very much has Labour on the back foot. At the end of the week, the Herald’s Audrey Young pronounced that National “has finally hit the jackpot” on the issue.

She explained how bad it was for Labour and the Prime Minister:

“it was the first time it had had Prime Minister Chris Hipkins squirming. No matter how much he said he wasn’t going to defend the rising costs of consultants, he had to explain why much of the expenditure was justified which, of course, was pretty much defending the rising costs of consultants. He was squarely in the frame as well because the ministry with the largest expenditure was Education when he was the minister.” 

Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Big “consultocrats” debate needs to carry on”

Chris Trotter: The road to October

Road Closed: For Chris Hipkins and Labour, the state highway to October has been rendered impassable by inaction and political slash. Christopher Luxon and National, meanwhile, have discovered an unsealed road without slips and fallen trees. It’s not their usual way of reaching the Treasury Benches, but, with a bit of luck, it just might get them where they want to go.  CHRIS TROTTER writes – 

THE NATIONAL PARTY stands at the beginning of an unsealed road which, if followed, might just carry it to victory. The question, now, is whether the party possesses the guts to set off down it. Sometimes politicians hit upon a winning strategy by accident, unaware that they have done so. National’s answer to the Government’s controversial Three Waters project may be a case in point.

Wittingly, or unwittingly, National’s policy reflects the principle of subsidiarity – i.e. the idea that the best decisions are those made by the communities required to live most closely with their consequences. Set against Labour’s preference for large, centralised (and almost always unresponsive) bureaucracies, National’s preference for the local and the accountable has much to recommend it.  

Labour, meanwhile, may find that its road to October has been closed. Rather than proceed with all speed down the path of repudiation and reprioritisation promised by Chris Hipkins when he became Prime Minister, the exigencies of dealing with the Auckland Anniversary Weekend Floods and Cyclone Gabrielle appear to have provided Hipkins’ caucus opponents with a chance to regroup and push back. Continue reading “Chris Trotter: The road to October”

Graham Adams: Hipkins’ stealth revolution in education

  • Graham Adams writes – 

The PM’s tenure as Minister of Education has given NZ school students a racialised and unbalanced curriculum.

Even if Chris Hipkins is no longer the Prime Minister after October’s election, his legacy will be locked in for some time.

Chances are it won’t be on account of his role as Prime Minister over the next seven months — or his time as Minister of Police, Minister for Covid-19 Response, Minister for the Public Service, or his brief period as Minister of Health.

It will mainly be the result of his five years as Minister of Education.

Hipkins may, in fact, not even have been the principal architect of the stealthy revolution that has occurred on his watch but it will be seen as his legacy nevertheless because formal power over the education portfolio rested with him from 2017 until he became Prime Minister in January.

Over those years, Hipkins and his ministry have given the nation’s schoolchildren a radical (“decolonised”) history curriculum, which teachers throughout the country have begun implementing this term. “Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories” is now compulsory for schools from Years 1-10, with the subject optional in Years 11-13.

Pulling the plug on Three Waters: PM is going to wash this plan right out of his hair (by sneakily giving it another name)

Buzz  from the Beehive

This update of governmental news gleaned from our Beehive monitoring owes plenty to Stuff and to Kiwiblog, who have highlighted news based on Chris Hipkins’ first speech to Parliament as Prime Minister.

The speech has not been recorded on, the official website of the New Zealand Government. But our readers can find a full record of the speech HERE on Parliament’s website.

Moreover, the news in this case is not about what the speech contained.  It is about what the speech did not contain. Continue reading “Pulling the plug on Three Waters: PM is going to wash this plan right out of his hair (by sneakily giving it another name)”

Not as simple as it looks

The international commentariat may be forgiven for believing new PM Chris Hipkins has relaunched the government rather well. 

First a clever pivot to the centre and now a compassionate and inclusive focus on disaster recovery.

Giving credence to rumours that the key strategic brains agreed and executed a skilful change of direction rather well.

Continue reading “Not as simple as it looks”

Professor Elizabeth Rata et al: Open Letter to the PM

Professor Elizabeth Rata, a sociologist of education and a professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland, is the Corresponding Signatory of this open letter to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

She is one of four academics from three universities who have signed the letter, dated 8 February 2023. 

The letter has been included in an article by Professor Jerry Coyne (which featured in a Point of Order post) headed Proposed New Zealand school curriculum and some strong pushback from four academics. 

The academics wrote: 

Dear Prime Minister Hipkins,

We, the undersigned, draw your attention to two major problems in the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Refresh policy and in the associated NCEA qualification reforms. These problems were created during your tenure as Minister of Education and can only be solved by calling an immediate halt to the radical initiatives causing the problems. Because the matter is of such urgency, this letter is an open one and will be made public.

The first problem is the fundamental change to the purpose of New Zealand education contained in the Curriculum Refresh document, Te Mātaiaho: The Refreshed New Zealand Curriculum: Draft for Testing, September 2022.

The second problem is an effect of the first. It is the insertion into the curriculum of traditional knowledge, or mātauranga Māori, as equivalent to science. Continue reading “Professor Elizabeth Rata et al: Open Letter to the PM”