Jacinda Ardern versus Kim Hill

Kim Hill has just given Jacinda Ardern a grilling on Morning Report, on the Middle East deployment reversal, on ‘Labour-led’, and on Winston Peters humiliating her and Labour.

What’s the problem with ‘Labour-led Government’?

I think it’s been fairly normal to describe Governments in New Zealand under MMP as led by the largest party, and led by the party of the Prime Minister. It has been common to hear of the Labour-led Clark Government, or the National-led Key Government. Actually it was common for the last lot to be referred to as ;the National Government.

So it is odd to see such a big deal being made over the term ‘Labour-led Government’. Or the Ardern Government.

National have recently been needling Winston Peters in particular on this lately – see The most pure form of MMP?

On Sunday while most of the focus and speech making was on Ardern and Labour, Ardern only sort of said she was in charge in her speech:

It’s a bit like a road trip that tells you who’s in the car, where you’ll be stopping, but doesn’t tell you where you’re going.

I can tell you, that as the person driving that car, that wasn’t enough for me.

She referred to ‘government’ 33 times, coalition 5 times and Labour just once:

This is our Cabinet mandated, Coalition Government work plan.

This plan represents our shared vision and priorities; Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens.

She even mention ‘green’ 5 times.

Ardern is going out of her way to appease Peters on this. NZH: PM’s verdict on the three words guaranteed to annoy NZ First leader Winston Peters

In New Zealand, we now have a Government which looks like a Labour-led Government called the I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Labour-led Government.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has expended some energy trying to eradicate the pesky phrase “Labour-led Government,” claiming it is not a true reflection of the coalition arrangement.

Instead, he has instructed media, MPs and anybody else in earshot to refer to “the Coalition Government” or the Labour-NZ First coalition government.

He will tolerate the addition of “with confidence and supply from the Greens” but only three times a year and only if uttered in a dark windowless room with no audience.

Antagonising Peters probably won’t change anything, he does cantankerous without any provocation.

Even Ardern gets jittery when the three words are uttered in her presence.

Asked if she had asked ministers to stop using the term, she replied “ah, I’ve never used that phrase, I don’t believe I’ve used that phrase.

“I tend not to and I’d expect [ministers] to refer to us as a coalition Government or a Government with a coalition partner and a confidence and supply partner.”

Peters has had some success with his eradication campaign.

The offending term has now been removed from the Beehive website and replaced with Coalition Government.

Ardern said that was not her doing.

“If you’re questioning whether or not because there was a change whether or not because there was a change on the website that I’m ceding power, the answer is no.”

Nor did the outlawing of the words “Labour-led Government” mean the Government was not led by Labour.

“I am a Labour Prime Minister, I am leader of the Labour Party and I am in a coalition Government. There is no doubt I don’t think that I am the Prime Minister and leading this Government.”

Sounds like talking around the issue. Someone in Labour seems to have been busy ensuring compliance with Winston’s descriptive demands.

Doing a search on site:labour.org.nz labour-led shows no hits in the last month, but there are still some references remain going further back, with 8 in October/November last year when the new Government took over.

For this year I can find three:

Not surprisingly the media are rebelling against instructions on how to describe the Government.

The media merrily ignore Peters’ edict and some may use the term in front of him just to annoy him.

Tova O’Brien (Newshub) leads with the term in Jacinda Ardern’s U-turn on pulling troops out of Iraq

“The Labour-led Government is extending New Zealand’s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan”, which may grate given this is a NZ First leaning decision.

Brigitte Morton (RNZ): A SuperGold move from the coalition

What it didn’t address was the issues that the Labour-led Government has been having over the last fortnight. Simply changing it from being called the Labour-led government to the Coalition government didn’t address any of the differences that are emerging between the three parties.

Tim Murphy (Newsroom): The Push-me-Pull-you Government

It was an invite only affair, in a university lecture theatre darkened to permit viewing of a skite-video of the first, well, 11 months and featuring a scrolling, too-fast-to-read list of the achievements of this Labour-led Government. Or the Labour-New Zealand First Coalition. Or the Labour-New Zealand First Coalition with support on confidence and supply from the Green Party.

Looks like the Streisand effect in action.

1 News from yesterday’s Ardern media conference: ‘No’ – Jacinda Ardern says change in wording on Labour’s website doesn’t mean she’s ‘ceding power’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media a change of text on the Labour Party’s website doesn’t mean she will be “ceding power” anytime soon.

A reporter asked Ms Ardern if she has asked her ministers to stop using the term Labour led Government at her post-Cabinet address today.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever used that phrase and I expect them to refer to us as a coalition Government that’s the truth of our arrangement,” Ms Ardern said.

Another reporter then pointed out Labour’s official website used to have the phrase “to get the latest from the Labour led Government click here” on it’s homepage and that has now been changed to read “to get the latest from the Coalition Government, click here.”

“I can’t say I have noticed it or that it’s ever been raised with me.

“If you’re questioning whether or not because there was a change on the website if I’m ceding power the answer is no,” the Prime Minister answered.



This may seem quite petty and unimportant, but it is a further sign of how much the Government is intent on massaging their messages, including trying to dictate descriptions.

The official website of the New Zealand Government refers to “Labour led government 2017-2020”