Mike's Minute: Jacinda Ardern's fairy dust is starting to wear off

Author
Mike Hosking,
Section
Video,
Publish Date
Monday, 5 August 2019, 9:03AM

The rumours are rife that our Prime Minister is actually in the country this week and looking to attend to domestic matters - and she's got a bit on her plate.

And because Jacinda Ardern's plate is getting more and more full, what you are seeing increasingly is the sad reality that a reputation has been formed, and is starting to cement in place. That is of a leader that isn't exactly hands-on, across the brief, decisive, or omnipresent.

This is a Government that's drifting.

As Matthew Hooton so eloquently put it, she appears more interested in what the editor of The Guardian thinks than anyone locally.

My sister, who lives in Rome and is here, currently informs me of what we already understand. Post-Christchurch, Ardern is globally seen as spectacular. An Obama-esque figure who in a crisis, responded brilliantly, connected magnificently, and gained an international reputation as a result. Hence we have a British Vogue cover and Meghan Markle.

What we also have is the cold, hard reality that no one internationally votes - and spending a week in Rarotonga, a couple of days in Australia, and another week on atolls hasn't proved in the least bit popular here.

The "part-time Prime Minister", who loves nothing more than to talk, consult, yak, discuss, whiteboard, or blue sky anything but actually make a decision is now facing a real issue with the public. Her personal popularity is significantly down, the gloss is wearing thin, if not off.

Some things she might like to actually address:

  • The Ihumātao land occupation she's insisted on involving herself in, despite her saying over and over it's got nothing to do with government.
  • The public housing crisis. Numbers last week setting another record.
  • DHB debt, as of last week it has blown out to hundreds of millions.
  • Oranga Tamariki baby snatching allegations and her department under siege.
  • Last week's confidence surveys numbers. Still falling, business at decade-long lows.
  • The JobSeeker benefit numbers two weeks back. Once again at record numbers.
  • Where is the KiwiBuild reset?
  • Where is the National Cancer Agency they promised and yet were beaten to by National last week?

Two years in, why is so little actually being done? And given that, isn't three out of four weeks overseas (having told me she is well aware people don't like her being out of the country hence she didn't do a thing about D-Day) isn't it just about time a few things get ticked off?

Reputations are hard won, but easily damaged. She's damaging hers, she only has so much goodwill. She only has so much fairy dust.

And with a year to a general election, increasing numbers of voters will start to tune in, pay attention, and expect results. Results get votes, so she might want to actually look at a few things in the in-tray.

 

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