The year 2021 will be looked upon as the year the lightweights in the Labour Government shone – as lightweights. I don’t think I can remember a government where not one person in the team has been up to the task. This Labour Government can thank its lucky stars for Covid and a National Party Opposition that often looked like it had caught the virus.
The Government’s handling of the gift it was given will lead to its undoing and eventual demise. Unlike 2020, the next election will not be a Covid one. Other matters will be more to the fore, such as the economy, as is illustrated in the latest Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll. Voters will want to forget about Covid and the Government’s effective handling of it early on before it descended into farce and failure.
The Labour Party campaign broadcasts from the ‘pulpit of truth’ became anything but. The Prime Minister’s claim that this was the only place to get the truth was the first big lie. Ardern tried to give the impression that misinformation was coming from everywhere but her. The irony of watching her standing at the so-called ‘pulpit of truth’ eventually became too much for even the most die-hard viewer. The ‘Jessica then Tova’ show became more of a comedy than anything else.
What will be remembered by the voters in 2023 will not be the government’s handling of Covid in 2020 but its shambolic efforts in 2021. With plenty of time to prepare, the government did nothing. The result was chaos. A slow vaccine rollout, a hopeless MIQ arrangement creating a cruel lottery imposed on those overseas wanting to get home to their families for Christmas and a devastating economic lockdown, particularly in Auckland. The inability of ministers to recognise the negative effects on businesses such as tourism and hospitality showed what lightweights they are.
The help that was offered was too little too late. Thousands upon thousands of businesses have gone to the wall in the last nine months. The evidence is in the Companies Office Register. Not once have I heard a minister address this fact. Thousands of jobs have been lost, and, if you want more misinformation, they expect us to believe unemployment is at 3.4 per cent. This figure can only come from juggling the numbers on the various benefits relating to unemployment.
Now examine the figure of 90 percent of the population having been vaccinated. According to the Mid Central District Health Board they, like other district DHBs, get baseline data from the Ministry of Health which enables them to compare their first, second and third Covid-19 vaccine doses given vs. estimates of the eligible population. These estimates are based on the Health Service User database, which counts the number of people who have interacted with the health service in the past twelve months. That doesn’t appear to be 90 percent of the entire population of each DHB minus the under twelves.
The Prime Minister has bought off the media and got a cabal of journalists and other friends in academia to back up her narrative. As Christopher Luxon pointed out in his end of year speech, when it comes to spin this government is the equal of Anish Patel. I might add that getting runs on the board was quite a different story. Also, their fielding of questions in the House wasn’t very impressive. If it weren’t for the bias shown by umpire Trevor Mallard, they would have been caught out many a time. There was a lot of ducking and diving in answers given.
Ministers did no credit to their portfolios. Poto Williams was a disaster in Police, failing to back them up on numerous occasions. Chris Hipkins was continually on the back foot with Covid and, as a result, his education portfolio suffered. Stuart Nash failed to give much-needed assistance to tourism and hospitality. The Lord of the Rings was another casualty under his watch, meaning millions of dollars were lost to the economy. Damien O’Connor and David Parker managed to suffocate farmers with unnecessary regulations and as a result the Groundswell movement formed.
Andrew Little gave up on Pike River, started digging in his health portfolio and decided more control was needed in Wellington rather than locally. This of course will not result in more frontline staff like doctors and nurses but more bureaucratic backroom pen pushers and paper shufflers. The one thing Labour have managed to achieve is adding thousands of civil servants to the payroll, thus virtually guaranteeing a win in Wellington Central.
Nanaia Mahuta, after years of doing nothing, has woken from her slumber to the realisation that she can be a political princess to her people and give them whatever they desire. Seats on local councils, water rights, He Puapua: it appears anything and everything is on the table, not for debate but for undemocratic implementation. Mahuta, along with Willie Jackson, is part of a Labour Party caucus that has been allowed so much power it is virtually running the country.
Grant Robertson doesn’t worry about debt to GDP, he’s more interested in debt to CONTROL. The more debt he can lumber the country with, the more control he has over its people. According to him, wasting $50 million on a fantasy bike bridge is nothing in the overall budget of play-money he’s got at his disposal. That attitude speaks volumes about his capability as a Finance Minister. If you add up what this man has wasted money on – the bike bridge, light rail, Pike River, paying inflated prices for properties and the Te Huia ghost train, to name a few – it’s a disgrace. Claire Trevett gave him the ‘Award for Spit Roasting’ the Opposition. She shouldn’t give me ideas.
Then there is the Prime Minister, the great communicator. Her degree appears to have been in the art of miscommunication. Rarely do we get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Mike Hosking tried but it got all too hard for her so she threw in the towel. She appears most comfortable visiting schools or radio stations that are only interested in fluffy interviews. Her Covid pressers are all theatrics, much waving of arms and exaggerated facial contortions of either concern or happiness. Some of these run counter to the conversation. I think the stress is getting to her and no doubt the wedding, with Jessica and Tova in tow, will be a welcome distraction.
Overall it was a very poor year for the Government, which I suspect will lead to a steady downward slide in the polls. As Luxon and a rejuvenated National Party find their feet, 2022 will not get any easier for a government clearly not up to the task. There are a multitude of problems ahead, particularly in the economic area, which will fan out into ministers’ portfolios. A wedding at a billionaire’s mansion with the rich and famous, while failing to lift the poor out of poverty, will not cut it. One award is already in the bag – Hypocrite of the Year.