It has been interesting over the holiday break to look at the conduct of our, to some, beloved Prime Minister. It was somewhat predictable as to when she would pop her cover girl head over the parapet and to see the subject matter she would address. Also noteworthy were the times she chose to stay silent. As usual, she picked her topics to comment on by selecting those that fitted her narrative. The consummate politician, you might say. In this respect, and this respect only – maybe. That communications study at university wasn’t for nothing.
Two things were of note on the domestic front over the holiday period – the road toll and the riot at Waikeria Prison. Dealing first with the road toll over the holiday period, it ended up being more than twice what it was the previous year. If you take the number that died plus those affected – family, relations, friends and workmates – I would have thought a comment from the Prime Minister would have been appropriate, even appreciated. After all, this is the one thing she excels at: offering comfort in times of grief.
Next up, something which definitely should have exercised her mind was the riot at Waikeria Prison. This was the one thing over the holiday period that demanded leadership. As in her first term, leadership was nowhere to be seen.
As with Covid, Ardern and her ministers were lost like babes in the wood. How about a helicopter with the SAS or AOS armed with pepper spray and taser guns to sort them out?
That sort of action though is not in the Ardern playbook. One cannot be seen to be using violence against one’s core voter base. Much better to just let the prison burn for a week. After all, the rich pricks, who pay most of the taxes, will be footing the bill.
The Minister of Corrections took a leaf out of Biden’s book and headed for his bunker. He decided he wasn’t going to comment until the riot was over i.e. until the prison had burnt down. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a gutless response to a crisis.
It was quite different from the other day when Antifa and Co were invading Capitol Hill. This was right up her alley for comment. Her response was, quite correctly, that democracy “should never be undone by a mob”. Maybe not on the same scale, but I don’t know what she thought was going on at Waikeria. If she thought it was Trump’s mob in Washington then it was definitely her mob at the prison. This is typical of how she views things. On the one hand, she was happy to wade into the Ihumatao situation when she should have kept out of it. On the other, she was happy to let a prison be destroyed while she served ice creams on the Coromandel. On top of a needless land payout we now have a needless payout to rebuild a jail.
She’s got one hell of a year coming up starting with a vote of no confidence against her “Lord Protector” Trevor Mallard. You can bet your bottom dollar she will return the compliment. There’s another needless payout of anything up to a million dollars because some loudmouth buffoon couldn’t keep his trap shut. Then she’s got the housing and poverty crises to deal with. Both abject failures of her first term.
To top it all off she’s still trying to get a tram up Dominion Road which most intelligent folks, including the experts, say is far too complex a scheme to be done without expertise from outside the country. Ardern says, with the handbrake (Winston) gone, it will be a chance to show how good they are. It’s an odds-on chance it will do nothing but show how bad they are. As Matthew Hooton said recently, there’ll be no excuses.
By the way, the same applies to the National Party.
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