Barry Soper: PM's trip brought new meaning to the term 'flying visit'

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 8:47PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Barry Soper: PM's trip brought new meaning to the term 'flying visit'

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 8:47PM

It's brought new meaning to a flying visit. 

Jacinda Ardern's first visit in almost three months to the city she loves to call her home town was virtually over before it began. 

And the carbon footprint of this whistle stop-off would have sent shudders through the COP26 climate change talkfest in Glasgow.       

She flew to and from the city on the Air Force's 757. Her office says she flew there with troops last night, who had to be relocated for MIQ duties and came back on the big jet because it had to be returned to Wellington.  

Strange that, given the jet's home base is Whenuapai. 

It was a token drop-in by a Prime Minister who is herself clearly paranoid about catching Covid. 

At her chat with the media at a Pacific youth vaccination event, she unusually chose to keep her mask on, saying she did it because she was indoors. With the media well out of spitting distance, you would have to wonder what the caution was all about. 

Getting to know what the misery's been like for the city edging out of a three-month lock-down would most certainly have escaped her on this visit. 

The only company she visited, JMP Engineering, continued to operate during the lock-down.  

Its boss Michael Thornton had earlier tweeted a shot of him wearing a MAGA cap, saying he had joined the movement - that's Make Ardern Go Away.  

He got his wish on that front, she wasn't there for long, probably because she got an earful about the broken MIQ system and how international businesses were able to operate when their workers couldn't get back into the country. 

But more likely because she was told that those at the company weren't big Labour supporters. 

Thornton's dumbfounded as to why his business was chosen for the visit. The call came out of the blue, and he wasn't aware this would be the only business Ardern would visit on her homecoming.   

He joked that he clearly got the nod because of his good looks and charismatic personality. 

So why did Ardern bother flitting in and out of Auckland? 

Well, she disingenuously said she went there because Parliament's Director General Trevor Mallard cleared the way for her by lifting his silly rule of making those coming to Parliament from Auckland to self-isolate for five days. 

In reality, she was embarrassed into it, she couldn't avoid the city for any longer and made the visit on the day retail stores were allowed to open their doors, not that she got anywhere near them. 

Nor did she get anywhere near the hospitality sector, which at the very least should be allowed to open its doors for al fresco dining given that groups for 25 are now allowed to congregate outside.       

As one top restaurateur observed, if she really wanted to understand and see how the city's been brought to its knees, she should have taken a stroll in the Wynyard restaurant district. 

But then that would have brought her into contact with those who are suffering, and they most certainly wouldn't have gone down on a bended knee. 

You'd have to wonder why she bothered going to the city, only to avoid those feeling the pain. 

Auckland is her home, she preached repeatedly to the media, her friends and family work for organisations which have been affected by Covid, so she didn't need to visit - certainly not the type of visit that was arranged for her.