Latest polling showed Labour’s rating at 41%, down 2 points from the previous sampling. Significantly, it charted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s rating slipping even faster, to 39% or 5 points lower.
The trend confirmed what some of the country’s top political journalists (Barry Soper of Newstalk ZB and Audrey Young of the NZ Herald) had already been telling their audiences: that Jacinda Ardern’s halo had floated out to sea.
In fact Audrey Young, in a recent article on how cabinet ministers have been performing, gave Ardern only 7 out of ten, down 1 from the previous rankings six months ago.
The slippage may have accelerated, given that Ardern’s excusing Auckland’s tardy emergence to freedom is causing immense frustration among Aucklanders. That frustration was compounded when Ardern chose to flip in and out of Auckland, using an RNZAF 757 jet for the flight from Wellington (hey, no worry about the carbon emissions, even though Cop 26 was in session at the time).
But back to Audrey Young’s Cabinet ratings: what put her assessment of Ardern’s fall from the heights into perspective is that she rated seven ministers as doing better—-
- 9/10: Robertson (no change), Sepuloni (+2), O’Connor (+5); and
- 8/10: Little (-1), Henare (+1), Wood (-1), Shaw (no change).
What might have upset Ardern fans even more was that the PM was placed alongside Phil Twyford, and William Aupito Sio, not to mention Kiri Allan who had spent months recovering after treatment for cancer.
Of course those fans might have cited Carmel Sepuloni being given a 9 out of ten as showing something awry with Audrey Young’s judgement.
Lindsay Mitchell, on her blog, pointed out just how well Sepuloni had actually performed in the social welfare field.
These are the ministry’s own progress indicators:
- Average future years on a benefit have increased from 10.6 years in 2017 to 12.4 years
- Median time to house clients has increased from 54 days to 168 days
- Percentage of clients who exit a benefit who return to it within one years – increased from 51% to 69%
- Client net trust score dropped in the last year from +43 to +40.
Point of Order has difficulty seeing Nanaia Mahuta given a 7 out of ten ranking. Her bludgeoning of local bodies in her Three Waters policy demonstrates a total disregard for democratic values.
And how could Marama Davidson rank alongside Megan Woods, Stuart Nash, or Ayehsa Verrall? Some would assert Verrall, in her first term in Parliament, has shown a range of skills that marks her out for a senior portfolio in the next term .
In any case, there is plenty to chew over, as ministers (and the country) enter the final weeks of what history might mark as a difficult year for politicians of all stripes, but especially its leaders.