Stardust in New York but Ardern’s New Zealand garden needs urgent attention

There has been a huge contrast between Jacinda Ardern wowing the world with her week in New York, and they stuttering struggles of her government back in New Zealand.

On New York

NZ Herald editorial: Stardust and substance – PM Jacinda Ardern at the United Nations in New York

Although embattled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been facing flak on various fronts at home this week, there can be little doubt she has delivered both “stardust” and substance in New York.

She has certainly been in demand on the sidelines, undertaking interviews with media and talk show heavyweights CNN and The Late Show, meeting UN goodwill ambassador and actress Anne Hathaway, and generating media interest the world over with pics of her baby Neve in tow in those hallowed halls.

The images of a smiling, capable, young, progressive female leader and young mum are priceless PR. Some of the engagements may have seemed trivial, but Ardern has ensured mention of motherhood and even hobbits have presented an opportunity to highlight New Zealand as a tourist destination and a progressive, supportive, inclusive society.

She has met other heads of state, taken part in a range of substantive meetings, discussions and panels on issues such as climate change, trade and the sustainable development goals. She has talked about refugees, steel tariffs, foreign investment, foreign aid, gender equality, child poverty, compassion and collaboration.

She has been nothing but diplomatic about US President Donald Trump in the face of difficult meetings on trade and many testing questions – not to mention outright contempt from the General Assembly floor in what must be one of the most extraordinary scenes in that chamber ever witnessed.

Ardern has effectively and memorably presented New Zealand’s interests and values to world leaders and a global audience. Job done.

And generally, done very well. Good on her for that.

Duncan Garner: Jacinda Ardern was masterful in trumping the Don

The prime minister returns from New York this weekend as the big apple in the eyes of her many international admirers.

Her international stocks are high, she’s played her limited cards superbly, and she made dancing through the foreign affairs minefield look effortless.

In reality, it’s not as easy as she made it look, especially with America (well, Trump) all passive-aggressive, and isolationist. In short, Ardern smashed it out of the park.

But she also painted a rosier picture than reality back in New Zealand.

And guess what? The PM got away with not telling the world how we have failed spectacularly to curb our carbon emissions and how they continue to grow at unsustainable levels.

We also don’t punish our big polluters, we don’t punish pollution from transport, we don’t have incentives to drive electric cars, and we can’t swim in 60 per cent of our rivers.

Imagine if Ardern had told the truth about us overseas.

She wouldn’t have been so lauded and applauded if she had.

She didn’t go to Woodstock while she was in the US, but some lyrics come to mind.

We are stardust
We are golden
But we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden

Ardern now has to get herself back to the New Zealand garden, where the pests and weeds look like getting out of control.

John Armstrong:  Jacinda Ardern must stop the rot in ‘drunken sailor’ Government

Stop the rot. And stop it quickly. That has to be Jacinda Ardern’s absolute priority on her return from overseas.

The incumbent three-party governing arrangement was displaying all the coherence and co-ordination of the proverbial drunken sailor long before the Prime Minister left for the relative sanctuary of a Winston Peters-free New York.

The unwieldy contraption has since appeared to be even more sloshed in her absence as its components stumble from one mini-crisis to the next minor scandal with such regularity that you can almost set your watch by it.

This three-headed hydra needs to go on the wagon — and pretty darned soon.

Viewed in isolation, each blunder or botch-up has not amounted to very much in the grand scheme of things.

Viewed in total, however, the various mishaps and miscues add up to a fair-sized catalogue of catastrophe.

Voters will soon forget the details of who was involved in each episode of woe and what happened and when.

What will stick in their minds from this epidemic of embarrassment will be the hard-to-erase impression that Ardern’s regime is riddled with incompetence.

It will leave the public wondering whether Ardern has lost control. That is where the damage is really being done.

Ardern’s has fiddled with aplomb on the world stage, while her government shows increasing signs that it risks crashing and burning.

In her Speech from the Throne last November Ardern said something that highlights the gulf between some of her rhetoric and reality: “This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information”

NZ Herald editorial: Govt’s greater transparency vow nowhere to be seen

The Government’s domestic woes continue this week even as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to bask in the global limelight in New York.

First there was the fallout from Derek Handley’s released communications in the chief technology officer saga, then there were allegations in Parliament which reminded the public about the investigations regarding recently appointed Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha.

Now, the Department of Internal Affairs is set to investigate how the draft report of the investigation into the Meka Whaitiri incident was leaked to the Herald.

The draft report finds it was agreed Whaitiri did have words with her press secretary for not alerting her to a photo opportunity with the PM during a function in Gisborne. It showed the staff member was allegedly left with bruising to her arm.

Although Whaitiri denies touching the staffer, David Patten, the lawyer who conducted the inquiry, found on the balance of probabilities the staff member’s version that she was grabbed was the more likely explanation of what happened.

That is damning — and clearly what led to Ardern’s sacking of Whaitiri as a minister last Thursday, a day after seeing the draft report.

So why the ongoing secrecy?

At the very least it raises questions about anger management and suitability for public office. And, for those who believe the alleged incident is minor, teachers now have strict new rules that prohibit manhandling pupils.

The public had the right to know exactly why Whaitiri was stripped of one of her roles. It would still be helpful to know why she was deemed okay to remain the Māori caucus co-chair, or whether there was any thought of expulsion from the party.

This Government promised to usher in a new level of transparency and openness. But there has been little evidence it is any more transparent than any other administration it seeks to better.

So returning from the euphoria of a very successful trip to New York Ardern has a lot to do in her real job, as Prime Minister in a government that looks lacking in leadership beyond Winston Peters’ wagging of the Labour dog, with the Green flea clinging on.

Ardern only had a temporary gig at the United Nations, for now at least.  She will return to a far more difficult job as Prime Minister of New Zealand.

The stardust of New York won’t keep masking the garden back home looking increasingly unkempt.

61 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  September 29, 2018

    don’t expect much do these commentators.
    An inheritance of nine years of neglect and kicking the can down the road and they expect miracles in…12 months.

    • The expect basic competency of leadership, which is hard to see here at the moment beyond some distant speech making.

      • robertguyton

         /  September 29, 2018

        Pete, I’m surprised at your sullen refusal to give unreserved credit to Jacinda. Always with the mopey, yes, but…

    • artcroft

       /  September 29, 2018

      Rewriting history again Blazer. National came into power after Labour left huge debts and a poorly performing economy. Within two years National was in charge of a rock star economy and eventually left Labour a giant surplus, which sadly they have handed to Shane Jones to fritter away trying to buy a seat in parliament. Tragic.

      • Blazer

         /  September 29, 2018

        better read what an impartial american has to say…absorb it FFS.

        ‘John L
        ManhattanSept. 28
        @Aotearoa Prime Minister Ardern has inherited an economy that includes a huge housing speculation bubble, fueled by massive, unsustainable amounts of private debt. This bubble was largely the result of a deliberately engineered immigration scheme by former Prime Minister John Key and his government, that flooded the country with low skill immigrants in conjunction with permitting foreigners to speculate in real estate. This housing bubble goosed aggregate GDP, so Key could claim his leadership resulted in growth. It was as cynical as it was imprudent. Auckland, the epicenter of this housing bubble and population increase is now scrambling to fund the infrastructure necessary to support it and young New Zealanders can’t afford to live there. John Key, ever with an eye for the main chance abruptly resigned December 2016, before most voters fully understood the con he’d perped on Aotearoa/New Zealand. He now sits on the board of Australia New Zealand bank, one of the institutions that profited most handsomely from lending into the housing bubble.’

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  September 29, 2018

          That was crap yestetday and it is still crap. Probably not an American either and certainly not impartial otherwise could have written the same about Clark.

          • Blazer

             /  September 29, 2018

            change the record or show where hes wrong…you can’t can you?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 29, 2018

              House price inflation under Clark while people emigrated. It’s drivel so no wonder you like it.

            • Gezza

               /  September 29, 2018

              Yes but Sir John was gonna bloody fix it ! 😡

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 29, 2018

              Had the GFC and Chch earthquake to deal with and then lost his majority so couldn’t.

        • artcroft

           /  September 29, 2018

          From an impartial but well informed New Zealander

          Art C
          Auckland (Sept 29)
          Who the hell is John L? And why should I care?

          • Blazer

             /  September 29, 2018

            could say the same about all opinion in the blogosphere.

        • Conspiratoor

           /  September 29, 2018

          Beautiful. Could not have summarised keys MO better. Tend to agree with al though. Was probably written by an enlightened kiwi rather than a distant observer

      • Griff.

         /  September 29, 2018

        Rockstar economy
        Yesss suppress wages so our nurses teachers and police leave in droves.
        Make the budget balance by rampant immigration of third world labour leaving a legacy of infrastructure unable to cope with the population explosion.
        National run a pozi scam of epic proportions that we will be paying the costs of for decades.

        • artcroft

           /  September 29, 2018

          Labour’s rock bottom economy
          Suppress wages so teachers and police leave in droves. Waste what money could have on improving wages by giving it to 1st year uni students so they can discover on the taxpayers dime that a degree in Swahili isn’t for them.

      • PartisanZ

         /  September 29, 2018

        Artcroft – “Within two years National was in charge of a rock star economy … ”

        Basically due to a one-off, two-ish-year-long, never to be repeated spike in dairy prices …

        … Peak milk!

        Proved to be short-lived and potentially suicidal too, like most rock stardom …

    • Corky

       /  September 29, 2018

      Nine years of superb Tory goverance doesn’t stop you living up to- what has now been proven as bullshit- a promise of being transparent.

      • Gezza

         /  September 29, 2018

        Yes, but at least they’ve got that silly promise out of the way now. No point in ever rolling that promise out again. What a balls-up that one turned out to be. Amateurs, Corks.

      • robertguyton

         /  September 29, 2018

        “Nine years of superb Tory goverance”
        A Corky claims he’s not a Tory supporter!
        Pffffffffffftttttt!!!!

        • Corky

           /  September 29, 2018

          National V Coalition government.

          The comparison is obvious in National favour, no matter what I claim.

          That you can’t see this comparison worries me, Robert…It’s about IQ…yet you claim you’re capable of grafting..??!!

          • robertguyton

             /  September 29, 2018

            I’ve grafted around 2000 apple trees over the past few years, Corky, but you may be right, I do come across as particularly stupid.

    • robertguyton

       /  September 29, 2018

      “And guess what? The PM got away with not telling the world how we have failed spectacularly to curb our carbon emissions and how they continue to grow at unsustainable levels.

      We also don’t punish our big polluters, we don’t punish pollution from transport, we don’t have incentives to drive electric cars, and we can’t swim in 60 per cent of our rivers.

      Imagine if Ardern had told the truth about us overseas.

      She wouldn’t have been so lauded and applauded if she had.”

      Incredible, commenters here trying to sheet the blame for that to Jacinda!!!
      Hypocrisy at it’s most naked!
      Blazer’s right. You Eeyore’s are sniffing about to find anything to counter Jacinda’s obvious success. Pathetic.

      • artcroft

         /  September 29, 2018

        They’d say of course you don’t sabotage your own economy. That’s why most of the world’s population want to live in NZ.

        • PartisanZ

           /  September 29, 2018

          Funny … National have spent their first year as Opposition trying to sabotage it …

          • PDB

             /  September 29, 2018

            The col govt has only themselves to blame for the shambles they are.

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 29, 2018

              Disagree PDB. Corporate-political elites are inherently conservative and likely to be hard-core National supporters at least, more likely big donors if not Party hierarchy.

              The bulk of think-tanks and consultancies are the same … They’re engaged in systems justification and maintenance …

              They actually dictate much government policy, regulation and bureaucratic operation – providing a narrow governmental ‘breathing space’ within strictly financialized parameters – and their minions – captains, lieutenants and sergeants – largely run local government … not to mention a considerable chunk of the NGO ‘Charitocracy’ …

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 29, 2018

              In other words, aside from direct ‘scaremongering’ by National politicians, ‘The Party’ or ‘Lodge’ control things like this incredibly objective measurement we’ve all come to know as “business confidence” …

  2. Corky

     /  September 29, 2018

    I wonder if Jacinda will follow in Aunties footsteps?

    PM > Stuff the country up > UN desk job > Back home to whine about the neigbours?

    • Blazer

       /  September 29, 2018

      certain she won’t follow in Key ,Shipley or Brashs…

      ‘M > Stuff the country up > foreign bank job > stay home to wine with the neigbours?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 29, 2018

        Chardonay socialists wine with the neighbours while they stuff the country up.

  3. Gezza

     /  September 29, 2018

    Winston kept the government ticking over – in fact there seem to be fewer problems when he’s acting PM. 🙏

    With a bit of luck the next published polls will pick up the Jacinda International Superstar effect. 💋💃🙆

    Plenty of time to sort out any domestic probs. The House doesn’t resume sitting now until 16 October. 🆗✅

    She’ll be right, mates ! What could go wrong before then? 😳

  4. David

     /  September 29, 2018

    I think its best she just leaves things alone, we are all better off if she keeps travelling and getting our tourism industry some great coverage.
    She wasnt elected because she had a great plan to implement or is particularly good at anything, aside from communications, so the commentariat should just leave her alone.
    Personally I am feeling quite chipper about the economy so the side shows dont really concern me anymore. I would hate to be poor though with all the price increases flowing through it will be a struggle for some but hey they voted for her.

    • Corky

       /  September 29, 2018

      ”I think its best she just leaves things alone, we are all better off if she keeps travelling and getting our tourism industry some great coverage.”

      You aren’t half wrong, Dave. Jacinda is of more value to us on the road then at home running the kitchen. Didn’t Aunty use Winston in a similar fashion?

      Absolute genius.

    • Gezza

       /  September 29, 2018

      She’s done pretty well for herself though. Just think – if she hadn’t crashed that tractor she might just be farming somewhere now. o_O

      • robertguyton

         /  September 29, 2018

        Remember Bill English and the tractor on the steps of Parliament, holding the sign that called Helen Clark a “mad cow”?
        What guy! What a party!

        • Corky

           /  September 29, 2018

          What a knight!

        • Gezza

           /  September 29, 2018

          Nup. Probably never even happened ! 😐

          Obviously photo-shopped.

          • Blazer

             /  September 29, 2018

            should have been arrested for endangering the public and himself.

            • Gezza

               /  September 29, 2018

              If that was the tractor Jacinda crashed, I don’t blame her ! 😕

            • Corky

               /  September 29, 2018

              Oh, come now, Blazer. Leave the hyperbole for Kitty. Although I must confess that photo was taken a few years ago. Now Sir William looks like the tractor.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 29, 2018

              Ha! Corky! Two cracker comments in one day! I’m in awe!

            • Corky

               /  September 29, 2018

              Maqui berries, Robert. Get yourself a few trees. Grow like weeds. We are roughly on the same latitude as their country of origin.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 29, 2018

              Maqui, Corky? I have 9 “maqui” trees (Aristotalia chilensis) growing in my forest garden, the oldest being 12 years, and many more on the way, as I grow them from cuttings. I eat the berries raw and dried. I’m spreading them throughout my town. I reckon those, and several other “super berries” are good stuff and birds love them too. Do you know about sea buckthorn? I have those as well. Chinese dogwood as well. And Chinese hawthorn, for heart-health – excellent.

            • Corky

               /  September 29, 2018

              Sea Buckthorn is the one I wanted, but forgot its name. I will definitely be adding them to my collection. I have the others. Thanks for providing that name I was searching for.

  5. wooden goat

     /  September 29, 2018

    Ardern and her pathetic rabble couldn’t run a bath let alone a country.

    The only things she is good at are ruining things and flitting around like a Kardashian. She has stuffed up charter schools (for no other reason than the unions hate them) and she has ruined the oil industry in Taranaki.

    The reason we see her **constantly** flitting off to conferences overseas and to kindergartens here is that she can’t do anything else except photo-ops.

    The unfortunate thing is that the Nats are little better, now that they’re being led by the weak-as-dishwater “Soyman” Bridges – NZ’s answer to Justin Trudeau.

    • Blazer

       /  September 29, 2018

      good to see you’re an eternal optimist…you old goat..do you live under a bridge?