Kate Hawkesby: Election delayed in the hope we'll forget lockdown debacle

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Aug 2020, 10:07AM
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Kate Hawkesby: Election delayed in the hope we'll forget lockdown debacle

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Aug 2020, 10:07AM

I told my listeners yesterday that, despite her supporters not wanting it to happen, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would move the election date for three reasons.

One, she doesn't like to go against the grain too much and usually leans into popular decisions with the least amount of fallout. That fate was sealed as soon as her coalition partner NZ First said to delay. Her hands were tied, it would've been too damaging to forge ahead with a September date.

Two, she's in the business of democracy and fairness, and it would be simply undemocratic to have rushed through what's arguably the most important election of our lifetime. The focus right now, especially for those in Auckland and for business and tourist operators, is not an election, but how to survive.

On top of that we are voting on two very important referendums and we need to be able to do that fully informed, with time to make considered decisions. And that's before we even get to policy, which has been put on ice announcement-wise. How do we vote when we don't even know what the policies are yet?

And finally, three: I actually think it's in her best interests not to rush the election.

The further away it is, the further we are from the horror memory of lockdown, the more freedoms we're enjoying, the happier we are. That all reflects better on the Government.

If we went to the polls off the back of another lockdown - still grumpy about our lack of freedoms and worried sick about our businesses and bottom lines - we may punish the Government for it. A chunk of time allows for a gap in the memory, and anything we look back on has a bit more of a rose tint to it ... which is no bad thing for the Government, given the handling currently.

So I think she was always going to make a popular, fair and people-pleasing decision, and one that upset other parties the least. And one that gave her party a good chunk of time to distance itself from their North Korea vibes of "we are the only source of truth", whilst locking us all up.

I spoke with a political scientist yesterday who said we vote on competence.

I don't know that we do, I think we vote on our back pocket. But he was arguing we vote on competence which is why National will get punished and I found that a stretch.

If we're weighing up competence, what's our most recent example of it? The border. The testing, the lack of testing, the failure to check things are being done that they say are being done.

That sheets back to the lack of commercial and private business experience in this Government. It is not used to the measures, checks and balances that a robust business in the private sector would have in place. It is not used to demanding higher standards, or running things efficiently.

So, eight and a bit weeks now to decide. Let's hope we get some policy served up soon.