The PM would not be standing by while house prices soared – and look what happened

In January this year Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern insisted: “We can’t stand by while house prices increase at the unsustainable rates we saw in 2020.”

So   what  has  happened  since?

During Auckland’s level 4 and level 3 period – August to November – house prices rose $113,000, or 8.3%.  In the 12 months to November, Auckland prices rose 27.9%.

The  speed at  which house prices have  risen  in  NZ  has  even attracted   the  attention of The  Economist.  It  noted  recently  that

“… in  the  past year, prices in NZ  have  shot  up at a  pace of  more than NZ2000  a  week.  Costs in  big  cities have been  going  up  for years, propelled by a  mix of  cheap  borrowing and  a scarcity  of  new homes”.

The  pandemic  has  made matters worse:  lockdowns  boosted  demand while   labour  and materials shortages constrained  housing  supply. Continue reading “The PM would not be standing by while house prices soared – and look what happened”

The PM loses her halo in assessment of ministers – but how did Sepuloni earn her higher rating?

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.

  

Graham Adams: Ardern on the hook over Three Waters

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Jacinda Ardern was very happy to front the Three Waters campaign in its early stages. But after a disastrous $3.5 million PR ad campaign, vocal opposition from most councils, and a $2.5 billion sweetener thrown back in her face as a “bribe” in mid-July, she exited stage left, leaving the heavy lifting to her ninth-ranked Cabinet minister, Nanaia Mahuta.

Now, in the wake of Mahuta’s announcement on October 27 that all of the nation’s 67 councils will be forced into the new arrangement, Waimakariri mayor Dan Gordon and other mayors want a meeting with Jacinda Ardern to discuss their concerns.

Having been told repeatedly by Mahuta that joining Three Waters would be a choice, the councils have not exactly been reassured by her promise that further consultation would be undertaken with local government to ensure adequate governance, representation and accountability of the new water entities to the communities they serve.

Gordon made his feelings clear in a radio interview last week: Continue reading “Graham Adams: Ardern on the hook over Three Waters”

Polls bring Labour back to earth while a warning is sounded about the need to brace for next economic crisis

So how  is  the  political landscape looking as the country  inches  slowly  towards   the goal  of  being 90%  vaccinated against Covid-19?

The  government  which  just 12  months   ago  was  blissfully floating beyond electoral threat somewhere  in the  political stratosphere  has  come  back  to  earth with something  of  a thud.

But National,  still  apparently  without  the  capacity  to  strike  the  wavelength  to  reach the  public  as  it  did in its  heyday, has   yet to find  its  old  mojo.  By  comparison, ACT  has been  flexing   a  new kind of   muscularity, without  suggesting  it has  yet  the  ability to  land  a  killer  punch

Meanwhile  a group  of  top  economists  is  warning   that  the  seeds  of  the  next   economic  crisis  have  been  sown. The steps taken by countries, including New Zealand, to counter the economic impact of Covid-19 have masked and in some cases exacerbated the risks.

“The Covid-19 financial support package has kept Kiwis off of the dole queue and saved many businesses from bankruptcy,” report co-author Bryce Wilkinson​ said.

“However, the government should promptly repay those debts in order to be prepared for the next financial shock. Failing to prepare now for the next financial crisis could destroy New Zealanders’ nest eggs and threaten their livelihoods.” Continue reading “Polls bring Labour back to earth while a warning is sounded about the need to brace for next economic crisis”

Graham Adams: Jacinda Ardern and the Ghost of David Lange

 

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The Prime Minister is increasingly looking like a political hostage as Nanaia Mahuta presses on with the Three Waters reforms. Graham Adams sees history rhyming as her powerful Maori caucus flexes its muscles.

David Lange is one of the most tragic figures of our modern political history. Highly articulate and entertaining, he was ushered into power in a landslide in 1984 during an economic and financial crisis. Feted as the youngest Prime Minister of the 20th century, he dazzled the nation with his wit and intellect.

By the time he resigned in 1989, however, he was seen as a weak and malleable leader who had backed policies he would later regret supporting. Furthermore, the fact that his party did not advertise its radical economic agenda before the 1984 election has tainted the legacy of the Fourth Labour government ever since.

It took a while before it became clear that Lange was using his larger-than-life persona and seductive oratory to sell a transformation of New Zealand’s economic landscape on behalf of a powerful cabal in his Cabinet whose intentions he seemed not to fully comprehend.

Eventually it became obvious that he was the monkey and Roger Douglas and his neoliberal Rogernomes were the organ-grinders. As columnist Bruce Jesson put it in 1986, the charismatic Lange was “perfectly suited to the superficial politics of the television age” but he was “swept along by events beyond his control”.

It seems likely that Ardern will end up being viewed in a similar way. When she was anointed by Winston Peters in 2017, she was feted as the youngest Prime Minister in more than 150 years, before being returned to power three years later in a landslide in response to a pandemic.

Her charisma and glamour are perfectly suited to the superficial politics of the social media age but she is obliged to dance to the tune played by Nanaia Mahuta, Willie Jackson and the Maori caucus — and by the others in her Cabinet, including David Parker and Andrew Little, who support their revolutionary agenda. Continue reading “Graham Adams: Jacinda Ardern and the Ghost of David Lange”

It will be 4pm soon – and (here’s hoping) the press will have an opportunity to question the PM

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Cabinet is scheduled to meet today to assess alert level restrictions, with announcements to be made during a 4pm press conference.  We look forward to hearing from the PM at that time.

So, too, will National Party leader Judith Collins, who has been pressing the PM to “come out from the shadows” after several days of no-shows at previously daily press conferences.

Collins’ demand for the PM to front up to news media followed the release of the latest Covid-19 numbers, which suggested the outbreak was slowly spreading around the North Island (the news has been somewhat brighter today).  She said:

“New Zealanders will be unsettled by the news – delivered via written statement – that we have 60 new community cases today and yet our Prime Minister did not even get one of her senior ministers to stand in for her at the podium.” Continue reading “It will be 4pm soon – and (here’s hoping) the press will have an opportunity to question the PM”

MIQueue – bringing Kiwis together

Scattered across time zones, united in desperation, Jacinda’s team of 25,000 hunched over PCs and phones on Tuesday to secure one of the coveted 3,700 rooms (more or less) for returning New Zealanders.  The two hours or so it took to work down the electronic queue were an opportunity to catch up on international coverage of the government’s acknowledgement that Covid elimination was not going to work. 

Continue reading “MIQueue – bringing Kiwis together”

Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters

 

The Opposition parties must be watching with glee, writes Graham Adams, as councils reject Nanaia Mahuta’s plan for drinking water, stormwater and wastewater.

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Even Labour’s most one-eyed supporters must be aware by now that the Three Waters reform being pushed by Nanaia Mahuta is fast becoming a make-or-break issue for the government. The eight-week “engagement” period that ended on September 30 saw a swathe of councils across the nation objecting — sometimes angrily — to the proposed changes to the management of drinking water, storm water and wastewater.

Mahuta’s plan is for the 67 councils’ water services to be merged into four giant regional authorities that ratepayers will not directly own or control. As National’s Chris Luxon says, councils are rightly worried about “not having direct influence and no shareholding or formal stake in the new entity whatsoever”.

The roll call of disaffected councils includes those overseeing our two biggest cities. Between them, Auckland and Christchurch represent nearly two million inhabitants — or roughly 40 per cent of New Zealand’s population.

Furthermore, their mayors — Phil Goff and Lianne Dalziel — are former high-ranking Labour ministers, which makes dismissing their opposition difficult.

The rhetoric from Christchurch councillors, in particular, has been incendiary. One, James Gough, said the proposal showed disregard for democracy, and was nothing short of “blatant asset theft”. Continue reading “Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters”

Covid has camouflaged cracks in the Cabinet and hidden failures in the govt’s performance

Is  the  political  tide which  Labour  rode  in  triumph  to   victory  last  year    beginning  to  ebb?  The  September  Colmar  Brunton    poll pointed  at   least  to  it  being  on the  turn.

Not  that  political  pundits    saw  it  that  way.  They  were  too  heavily  focused  on  how  National’s  leader  Judith  Collins  had  crashed to  a  new  low  point and canvassing  how  soon  the  caucus  dissidents   would  coalesce   to  overthrow  her.

Those  experts  hardly   noticed  that  Prime  Minister  Jacinda  Ardern’s  once  stellar popularity   has  moved  off  its  peak  and  is  now  down  at  44% — even  though  the  communication  skills  which  propelled  her  to  the   heights   have  been  in  daily  evidence  during  the  latest  Covid  Delta  outbreak.

The  other   curious  feature   of  the  mainstream  media’s  analysis  of  the  Colmar  Brunton sampling was  the almost  universal  view  that   the ACT party  is    sucking  the  oxygen   out  of  National,  excluding  the  rather  different prospect   that  the  parties  of  the  right  are gaining  while  support  for  the  parties of  the  left  are   now  easing, admittedly  from    an  exceptional  high. Continue reading “Covid has camouflaged cracks in the Cabinet and hidden failures in the govt’s performance”

Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe

PM Jacinda Ardern is planning a major visit to Europe next month. Details have yet to be announced but she is expected to visit Paris, Brussels and possibly Berlin.

She is heading NZ’s campaign to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union. First visit is likely to be Paris where she will have a warm welcome from President Emmanuel Macron. This couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

The French are feeling bruised over the Australia-UK-US nuclear submarine agreement and the cancellation of the $80 billion contract to build French nuclear submarines converted to diesel-electric power in Adelaide. France has already signalled it would not impede a NZ-EU trade pact.

European countries generally are concerned at the new nuclear submarine pact.  EU capitals had no prior warning despite President Joe Biden’s expressed desires to repair relations bruised under Donald Trump.  It was also angered by Biden’s failure to alert Europe of his withdrawal from Afghanistan despite the presence of European forces in that country. Continue reading “Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe”