Mike's Minute: Issues, other than Covid, will start to haunt the government

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 17 Mar 2021, 9:24AM

Mike's Minute: Issues, other than Covid, will start to haunt the government

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 17 Mar 2021, 9:24AM

So, the 15-year-old deported from Australia wasn't quite the surprise the Prime Minister made it out to be.

I mean it was a surprise to her, given no one told her, but the fact no one told her is the clue. Once Covid-19 fades from its omnipresence in our lives that is when it gets really interesting.

Nanaia Mahuta was told weeks ago, so why didn’t she tell anyone else? Because she has no political radar.

The no surprises policy is a good policy because when enacted properly it saves the Prime Minister looking hopelessly out of touch. The fact Mahuta didn’t say anything is an example of this government's performance.

Before Covid, and doesn’t that seem a long time ago, this government was famous for being largely useless. The economy ending 2019 and into 2020 was grinding to a halt, the year of delivery had turned into a joke for the ages, and generally they were heading into election year in trouble.

Covid saved them the way it's saved, or helped, many a government and politician all over the world in the past 12 months, who happen to have had a vote scheduled in the middle of a pandemic.

But Covid should be largely done by the end of this year as the sole focus of our attention. That means governments can be judged on their multi-faceted merits and this is where our one is in serious trouble. 

The poll this week is a snapshot of why they are still safe, and whether Mahuta is hopeless or not isn't really a story, or whether they ignored Treasury advice on Ihumatao isn't really the scandal it might otherwise be.

33 percent didn’t know or wouldn’t answer on their preferred Prime Minister. That's actually higher than National's support.

Don't know or won't answer are, in fact, the opposition. It is the way of the year after election, a decent chunk of voters aren't engaged enough to care and a government can use that to their advantage.

But not for too long. By the middle of next year, the focus is back, the attention is peaked, and decisions are starting to be formed.

If you take out Covid, this lot are unchanged. With the exception of the Prime Minister whose halo, as the poll shows, is already in serious trouble. Decent Prime Ministers ride in the polls at well into the 50s and 60s. Having already dropped 15 points into the 40s, that's a red flag, and people are onto her.

They’ll be onto the rest of them soon enough, unless they get their act together. Unlike last time, there is no coalition. They make up all the government, there is no one to blame but them.

Mahuta and her lack of radar is but one of a large selection of problematic operators that will eventually haunt them.