Government crumbling?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems to have been keeping a deliberate distance from the handling of Covid isolation and quarantining, and from most other things that are currently besetting her Government. But questions are being asked.

NZ Herald:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responds to claims Government ‘tearing itself apart’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is shrugging off criticism that her Government is “tearing itself apart,” after New Zealand First killed any hope that light rail in Auckland would get underway this term.

“This is an MMP Government,” Ardern said this afternoon.

“This just happens to be one [area] where we were unable to form a consensus.”

Greens co-leader James Shaw said NZ First’s light rail moves were a “slap in the face of Aucklanders”.

But he insisted the policy was not dead.

Ardern admitted she was frustrated that the project won’t get underway before the election.

“That was a policy that we campaigned on that we have worked really hard on because we believe it will make a difference to congestion issues in Auckland.”

Light Rail was the first big policy announced by Ardern when she took over leadership of Labour leading into the 2017 election.

Labour made a commitment to the Greens in their governing agreement:

Work will begin on light rail from the city to the airport in Auckland.

But Ardern has not been able to prevent NZ First from delaying and then cancelling the project.

Stuff: James Shaw says NZ First are breaching their coalition agreement by axing light rail plan

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says NZ First are breaching their coalition agreement with Labour by axing Auckland light rail this term.

In some of his harshest ever words against the party, Shaw said NZ First’s killing off of Auckland light rail this term was a “slap in the face of Aucklanders” and breached the coaliton agreement between Labour and NZ First.

He also refused to say whether he would go into Government with NZ First again.

This is unusually strong words from Shaw, but the survival of his party is at real risk.

NZ First leader Winston Peterssaid it was his reading of the clause that his party would act in good faith with the Greens, but did not actually bind his agreement to theirs.

“It asks us to act in good faith using our best information to make judgements on matters,” Peters said.

Pushed on this point Peters asked that the reporter go to the Human Rights Commission to get an interpretation of the clause.

Good faith and Winston Peters? he is also fighting for political survival and is well known to put his interests first, his party isn’t referred to as Winston First for nothing.

He said NZ First had killed off the plans as it was worried about cost blowouts.

That’s from someone who, along with Shane Jones, are doling out billions to regions whiling claiming as much credit for themselves.

1 News Morning Briefing June 25: Ardern denies coalition is crumbling

Ms Ardern says hers is an MMP Government and “this just happens to be one [area] where we were unable to form a consensus”.

One of a growing number of ‘areas’.

Meanwhile, NZ First has also left business owners frustrated after putting the brakes on proposed changes to commercial leases, forcing Labour to turn to National for support for the bill.

NZ First leader Winston Peters denies he’s blocking the changes, saying, “We’re just making sure the policy is a sound, commercial proposition in fairness to the contractual laws in New Zealand.”

Peters is blocking changes on a number of things at least until the election.

The Spinoff  The Bulletin: Will the three-party government survive the term?

After several days of frantically knifing each other at parliament, you’d be forgiven for thinking the coalition government is on the verge of collapse. The highest profile incident was the news that the process on deciding how to get light rail in Auckland is now off the table…

As if to underline their independence from the wider coalition, NZ First have inflicted several more quick defeats on their frenemies this week. They’ve refused to support the proposal for hate speech laws. They put the brakes on proposed changes to commercial leases, in the wake of Covid-19. They stalled changes to how rape trials operate, based on concerns raised by defence lawyers. In each case, the party put up reasons for their opposition. But the cumulative effect of a barrage of similar stories creates the impression that they’re no longer interested in allowing anything else through before the election.

What’s driving all of this? Politik’s Richard Harman is particularly well informed on these matters, and has speculated that what we’re seeing right now is revenge from NZ First around one of their key projects – the movement of Auckland port operations to Whangārei – not making the speedy progress that they would have liked to see. Among the snubs in this area, the report noted that a proposal to build a floating dry dock in the north was not part of the recently announced list of 11 shovel-ready projects.

Peters reacting out of spite? Surely not.

Could all of this actually bring the government down? It’s not impossible that we’ll see an early election, even if it is deeply unlikely.

I think it is unlikely. Even if the Government collapsed now it would seem pointless bringing the election forward by a few weeks – it is currently three months away.

Peters should be very wary of bringing down another Government, he has a reputation for not going the distance and another failure would not be helpful for his re-election chances.

But an ongoing train wreck won’t help either.


RNZ: Casualties of the coalition government continue to grow

Labour and Green MPs have given up hiding their growing frustrations with New Zealand First vetoing their flagship policies.

Once again the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens has taken a hit.

Justice Minister Andrew Little hasn’t had a good run negotiating with New Zealand First in the past.

While he’d work with them again, he also said “I might change the ground rules”.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is less forgiving that yet another policy in the Greens’ confidence and supply agreement with Labour has been placed on the backburner.

“I have faith in the Green Party’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour, yes. I don’t have faith that New Zealand First are able to uphold their own coalition agreement.

“Their coalition agreement says that they will act in good faith to ensure all other agreements can be complied with,” he said.

But NZ First Leader Winston Peters brushed off the accusation.

“We’ve acted in good faith but the Greens’ three hours ago were telling you they’re responsible, and then two hours later they had an epiphany and now they’re saying we’re breaching some kind of agreement to which we were never a part.”

Sounds like a dysfunctional government.

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34 Comments

  1. David

     /  25th June 2020

    Not sure its crumbling but this is the consequence of having an unfocused part time PM who has very very little experience in delivering measurable outcomes. Ardern is great at spin and handles herself brilliantly but you cant effectively run a country in times of duress by kind words alone, she lacks that gritty backbone and scrapper mentality for these times and everyone below her knows that so are slack arses. Its like having a weak touchy feely boss or teacher you just cant be everyones friend when you are in charge, its lonely up there.

    Reply
    • Indeed.

      To me that is one of her weaknesses; trying to be everyone’s friend and make everyone like her. Even the way she dressed made her look as if she was trying to be just one of the people. A leader needs dignity.

      Her current statements about being a leader so not responsible for what goes on are a copout. She can’t have the good parts of being a soi-disant leader and not accept the responsibilty.

      Reply
  2. David

     /  25th June 2020

    I think emblematic of her leadership was last Friday and weekend when this testing shambles was at its peak, a police man was shot and killed she was at home trying to perfect a birthday cake for her daughters 2nd birthday party.
    I guess she may have needed a day off and we all know how therapeutic it is to hang with your kids (or dog) but you cant lead a team and demand performance.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  25th June 2020

      The cake needed propping up at both ends. She posted it on Instagram with a comment that one shouldn’t spend too much time focussing on the look of the cake and ignoring its structural integrity.

      Very prophetic & clearly equally true for the way she “runs” her government.

      Reply
      • Runs from her government when there’s any chance of being held to account.

        The cake was a small thing, but its tactless publicity was appalling. I wonder how many people were that interested, except for the usual fawners. It was indeed a freudian slip.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  25th June 2020

      A very mischievious and unfair comment there David.

      Would you consider a game of baseball more important than a funeral ?

      Reply
      • David

         /  25th June 2020

        How is it unfair, she took Friday off when the quarantine system was in shambles and desperately needed some proper oversight and she had removed her minister.
        An incredibly rare, thankfully, event of a police officer being shot and killed in the line of duty and she couldnt even reach out to the family, perhaps she didnt have a uniform she could wear for the photo opportunity so decided to stay home and pretend it never happened.

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  25th June 2020

        @ Blazer

        Because he must have got in touch with the family to express his & National’s condolences & was smart enuf to use that opportunity to exploit that personal approach.

        Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  25th June 2020

    The latest Colmar Brunton poll results will be announced tonight, according to Political Editor Jessica Mutch Mackay on 1 News at 6 last night.

    She said polling was finishing last night & that the results would be processed & analysed overnight.

    Claims have been posted here that “the country” is angry with Ardern, so this should give a good first read of where things are now in the public perception of Ardern & Co’s performance.

    Reply
    • David

       /  25th June 2020

      This one again is timed for a headline, cant blame them though. Interested to see where Muller ends up, I would guess Ardern,s ratings will have held up better than her governments she does have that star factor which her useless administration doesnt have.

      Reply
      • I think she’s losing it. She looks haggard and drawn and can’t shuffle off any responsibility for the covid fiasco as she gleefully accepted the world’s praise for something that wasn’t her doing, either.

        Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  25th June 2020

    As I posted yesterday…

    Ardern & Co have just had their strongest lesson in the dangers of dealing Peters in to your coalition. He’s sniffed the air, I reckon, & decided that with Labour possibly dropping in the polls after their Covid-19 quarantine omnishambles, & National possibly being desperate enuf to need him, his best bet is to throw a spanner in the Labour works & position himself to go with either party.

    Peters will always turn on a coalition partner for electoral advantage.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  25th June 2020

      Well Peters has enough experience to know its eat of be eaten when it comes to coalitions.
      Look what happened to Nationals other party friends who were too easily bought off.
      I remember that ACT fell apart during Keys 2008-2011 government and the Nats got stiffed many occasions including RMA changes and famously over the Kermadec sanctuary after it was big noted at the UN by Key( who didnt get support lined up here first)
      Dunne and Maori party oftehn combined to thwart nationals legislative changes , but not being in cabinet couldnt block proposals that just needed cabinet sign off.

      In reality the Light rail project is a bad idea to begin with and is better off dead. The half hour trip to the airport is absurd nonsense. The airport will always win when it comes to providing car parking by the sq mile.
      Sydney and Brisbane incorporated their airports into their rail network and found the airport station usage very low- for Sydney its similar to a minor station like Granville rather than the top 10 or so ( even then the usage might be inflated by passengers knowing its the quickest way between domestic and international terminals which are on opposite sides of the main runaways)

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  25th June 2020

      Surely National would not entertain any deal with Peters just on…principle!Bol.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  25th June 2020

        It will depend on how the numbers look after the election. And Muller & Co will have to calculate the risk. Going in to coaltion with Peters seems to substantially raise the risk you’ll be out of government at the next election.

        Reply
    • Ardern wanted to be PM so much that she seems to have ignored his track record and habit of holding the country to ransom while he makes up his mind.

      She wasn’t careful enough about what she asked for.

      Reply
  5. FarmerPete

     /  25th June 2020

    I am no fan of Peters. I would like to see NZFirst gone, but he was correct to pull the plug on both those ideas. First the idea of putting trams down Dominion RD is just plain stupid. Second, the intervention in commercial leases is flawed. Most leases signed after 2011 contain a clause exempting rent in national emergencies. This came after the Christchurch earthquakes. Landlords with older leases have the decisions about whether they want their tenant to survive or not. We had a blend of leases and provided relief to all tenants in our facility. The problem for landlords is that they have nowhere to turn to get relief for their losses. In one case the governments announced plan to intervene in commercial leases was enough for one tenant, who was an essential service, to decide he would no longer pay rent in advance, but in arrears. This after we had made an offer of relief. That would have been a $42k hit. The idea that the government can nullify commercial leases and announce that intention without any detailed research or consultation is just another indication of how inept this Labour coalition is.

    Reply
    • I hate to agree with WP, but this is NOT the time to squander money on something that no one wants and will harm businesses even more that they have been harmed.

      Intervention in leases ??? When and where ? That is inexcusable.

      They also gave tenants the idea that their rents were to be frozen during the lockdown. How irresponsible.

      Reply
      • FarmerPete

         /  25th June 2020

        They announced an intention to set aside the notice period for a breach to 30 days. In most cases it is between 10 and 15 days. That allows the landlord to take action before arrears get too high. This is what Peters pulled the plug on. The action would have unilaterally changed the terms of all commercial leases. In our case the tenant used this announcement as an excuse state that he was suspending rent for two months. Our challenge was that we could issue (potentially) a notice of breach after 30 days and he would run the notice period out till the last minute and do this every rent cycle until the end of the lease.

        Reply
        • That cannot be legal ! (not your part, of course)

          Tenants of rented houses were, in some cases, convinced that the lockdown meant no rent. Dream on.

          Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  25th June 2020

    Winston busy putting daylight between NZF and his partners pre election. Situation normal.

    Reply
    • artcroft

       /  25th June 2020

      Winston putting daylight between himself and integrity. Situation normal.

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  25th June 2020

        Still I support Winston on this. Twyford couldn’t have built this for less than a trillion dollars, and within the next 80 years.

        Reply
  7. Gezza

     /  25th June 2020

    Question Time

    Mallard ordered Nick Smith to leave the House.

    Smith had a question (No 8) which Mallard stated that Standing Orders prohibits another member from asking, when Brownlee raised a point of order & sought to permission to ask.

    (Mallard had called for Question 9 to be asked when supplementaries for Question 7 were finished.)

    It quickly got nasty & Brownlee was (somewhat messily) ordered to join Dr Smith, who is banned for a period Mallard has not yet determined, for the length of his ban.

    Several jibes being made throughout this QT session by government MPs & the Deputy PM at Woodhouse’s phantom homeless man who he has failed to provide any evidence ever existed.

    Reply
  8. David

     /  25th June 2020

    Interestingly Arderns rating dropped the same 9% that Labours dropped, she still out polls her party by 4%.
    Muller debuts at 13% and National gained the 9% that Labour lost but Winston is in the margin of error.

    Reply

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