So what’s happened to the widely admired crisis management skills that elevated Jacinda Ardern so far above other New Zealand politicians and won her re-election in 2020 with a 50-year record result for Labour?
She sounded almost forlorn as she spoke on Monday of how Covid will increase “and rapidly” and conceded “there will be disruption and pressure from Omicron”.
Just as 2019 was to be the “year of delivery” and 2021 the “year of the vaccine”, this is to be the “year of moving forward”. But moving forward to what?
Well, once Covid reaches its peak and starts to come down, she says
“… we can start to move towards a life that feels a little more like a new normal that we can all live with”.
Ardern says her primary goal is to manage Covid with few restrictions and accelerate the economic recovery while continuing to ensure that lives and livelihoods are protected.
She sounded positively elegiac in this final stanza: Continue reading “Firing the flops in her Cabinet (we suggest) might spark a return to the fold of 2020 voters who have cooled to the PM”
More health announcements – concerning state support for farmers and growers affected by Covid-19 and “free” flu vaccinations – have flowed from the Beehive.
More ominously, Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker has drawn attention to the threat to the health of the oceans – and to fish stocks – posed by climate warming.
He didn’t announce anything in particular to counter this threat. Rather, he mentioned measures he intends to take, such as overhauling the highly contentious Resource Management Act.
His statement was prompted by an announcement to the Stock Exchange by New Zealand King Salmon: the warming of the sea has been killing the company ‘s salmon stocks enough to cause a significant downwards revision in earnings expectations.
The company has reduced its forecast earnings for the 2022 year by $4 to $5 million. The higher salmon losses have been recorded most notably in the company’s Pelorus Sound operations.
Parker said this is a sharp reminder that resource management system reforms are needed to deliver better management for aquaculture. Continue reading “The health of the oceans is under threat – but RMA reforms (Parker is working on them) should help troubled salmon farmers”
Latest opinion polling suggests the political mood is still coloured by the pandemic, with support for the Prime Minister and her party remaining strong.
Yet uncertainty about economic trends points to the risks that will have to be navigated through the next 12 months. Will inflation burn out of control? How will the tourist industry recover? Will the surge in house prices flatten out? May the trend in growing inequality reverse?
Through all the uncertainty, the faith in the Prime Minister remains unshakable. Any regular reader of the “letters to the editor” columns in newspapers will be familiar with how any criticism of Jacinda Ardern is met with a volley of responses from those who ascribe to her the power of defeating Covid in its different variants, and preventing New Zealanders from suffering the rate of fatalities experienced in the UK, Australia or the US. Continue reading “Ardern and her team will be tested as NZ adjusts to new economic realities in the wake of Covid”
While the PM was staying away from the wider community in self-isolation, Willie Jackson was announcing news for a small community that – we imagine – brought jubilation. The Treaty of Waitangi is a common factor in both bits of news.
The community in Jackson’s case is Reporoa, near Rotorua. It has a population of fewer than 500 people.
Jackson is pumping $12.35 million into housing projects there – Maori housing projects to be more precise – in the expectation more Maori families will be lured there.
And what will they do to earn their livings and pay their rent?
Jackson’s ministry is sure to have a plan.
But first, the PM. Today she is reported to have returned a negative test for Covid-19, but she has been deemed a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case and is in self-isolation in line with Ministry of Health advice.
The Beehive website posted news on Saturday of her going into isolation.
The exposure event took place on Saturday 22 January during flight NZ8273 from Kerikeri to Auckland. Flight NZ8273 has been added to the Ministry of Health website as a location of interest this evening.
The Governor-General and members of her staff were also on board and are following the same isolation instructions. Continue reading “A story of jubilation (as millions are poured into Maori housing in Reporoa) and of isolation (as the PM abides by Covid rules”
As the Omicron wave washes through, it’s hard, even with the seasonal perspective, to reckon what things might be like in say a year’s time.
But perhaps necessary.
Because the day-to-day measures seem less and less meaningful – except where they provide a pointer to the direction of long-term policy.
Continue reading “Covid divide in 2022: you ain’t seen nothing yet”
Another sharp take on the resignation of Lord Frost – Boris Johnson’s chief European sherpa – from the folk at Eurointelligence.
Wonk-in-chief Wolfgang Munchau argues Lord Frost was one of the few (perhaps the only one?) of Boris’s close advisers that really understood the needs of a post-Brexit strategy:
“What Brexit requires, first and foremost, is a post-Brexit economic model.”
Continue reading “Late Frost in Brexit Britain”
Experience suggests one should only call a turning point after it has actually – well – turned.
That said, it might be wise to keep an eye on developments in the UK over the Christmas and New Year period.
While Europe is fast locking down for fear of Omicron, Britain’s cabinet is the fulcrum of a political battle over whether any policy response would be meaningful.
Continue reading “In Britain, Christmas locks itself down”
British politics is proving a fine laboratory for times of transition.
Boris Johnson’s enemies are exultant at his latest woes: a crushing by-election defeat and a parliamentary vote in which he endured the biggest Conservative party rebellion since – well since the Brexit horrors a few years ago under his predecessor Theresa May.
But oddly enough, it looks like he might keep on standing.
Continue reading “Boris: Bad reaction to Omicron”
Monitoring the Ministers
A year ago, as Minister of Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash popped up to announce the opening of the America’s Cup Village in downtown Auckland and declare it marked the start of an exciting summer of action on and off the water.
Today he has announced New Zealand has secured a four year deal to bring the new high-tech global sailing competition SailGP to our shores.
Lyttelton Harbour in Christchurch will host the first Sail Grand Prix season ever held in New Zealand. This will be part of Season Three, to be held across ten countries during 2022-23.
Auckland and Christchurch will then host alternate races in following seasons.
And will taxpayers have to chip in as part of the deal?
Of course (but a comparatively modest sum).
Delve deep enough into the press statement and you will learn: Continue reading “Buoyed by bureaucrats’ bullish projections, our Govt likes to keep racing yachts afloat and now (maybe) it’s on to another winner”
Our Beehive update
Matters in the foreign affairs domain have preoccupied ministers over the past two days.
Ambassadors to Russia and the United Nations have been appointed, $100 million has been given to the Cook Islands and Fiji for COVID-19 economic support and recovery, nine southern African countries have been added to New Zealand’s list of very high risk countries after discovery of the COVID-19 variant Omicron, and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has provided a rundown on the North American leg of her 17-day overseas travels.
Mahuta has been busy. Regardless of jet lag, she has announced the new ambassadorial appointments and the economic package of $100 million, bringing COVID-19 support to the Cook Islands and Fiji to a combined total of $215 million. New Zealand this time is providing $60 million to the Cook Islands and $40 million to Fiji.
We suppose the press statements were prepared while the Minister was in managed isolation and quarantine, no doubt itching to get back to the Three Waters reforms.
A weekend statement told us the final leg of Mahuta’s travels involved “a number of high-level discussions” in the United States and Canada.
The issues discussed extended beyond the interests of indigenous peoples, the subject of her previous travel report after she meet Canadian ministers.
She mentioned these interests again in her latest statement as a measure of the importance she obviously attaches to them. But she also brought stuff such as defence, security and trade into her discussions. Continue reading “Welcome home, Nanaia – and it’s good to hear defence, security and trade stuff were discussed with big-wigs in North America”