Mike's Minute: PM is soft when it comes to discipline

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Apr 2020, 10:41AM

Mike's Minute: PM is soft when it comes to discipline

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Apr 2020, 10:41AM

The Prime Minister's reputation remains intact. When it comes to hard decisions around her colleagues, she is still in search of a spine.

I had assumed, clearly incorrectly, that yesterday afternoon she would be addressing the David Clark fiasco by confirming he remains as Health Minister during the Covid-19 crisis, but at its conclusion he would relinquish that portfolio and be setting himself up on the backbench.

Why did I think that? I have no idea.

The legacy of this government is virtually no one gets sacked. Not Clare Curran, not Iain Lees-Galloway, and Meka Whaitiri only got the don't come Monday because it involved violence.

I would have fully backed the Prime Minister yesterday if she'd said what she should have said, because the cold hard truth is right now an established figure in a critical role like health is needed. Her argument, and my defence of it, is slightly weakened by the fact Clark, of course, has been nowhere to be seen.

So you could suggest he's not actually that valuable at all. But in theory in a health crisis, the Health Minister should be a critically important component.

Also, another cold hard truth is the talent, or lack of it. Associate Health Ministers Jenny Salesa and Julie Anne Genter are the next cabs off the rank. We all know we can't afford for that to happen.

The truth is Clark is saved by this government's sheer lack of talent.

It was, of course, Genter who fronted the measles disaster last year. Remember that? The refusal to force people to get vaccinated, the insistence on asking nicely, the exportation of the disease to the Pacific, that's the Genter approach to healthcare. Clark looks a solid pair of hands compared to that, even if he spent the rest of the crisis at the beach on his mountain bike.

The problem for the Prime Minister if we ever get to an election, is she has opened herself up to the charge of being fantastically soft when it comes to discipline. Even in Shane Jones, where it's become a joke. Although she can claim he's from another party, he's still a Cabinet Minister and the Minister is part of the collective responsibility. She is the boss of the government and needs to act like it.

In terms of cock ups this has been a calamitous government. All government's have trouble, but this lot particularly so, but the damage is always mitigated if the response is clear and appropriate.

It is Ardern's glaring weak spot. In the same week she declares the Easter Bunny an essential worker, she let's yet another of her hopeless colleagues partially off the hook. It sums her up. If you need a hug you're in expert hands. Anything harder? Forget it.