The pile on continues, Garner gives the government a generous B–

Duncan Garner gives the government a six-monthly report card as though it was delivered by three Russian spies.

It isn’t great, but he gives them a generous B–:

Quote:

REPORT SYNOPSIS:

Jacinda Ardern and her government.
From: 3 Russian Spies (Karori)

Jacinda delivered on her genuine promise last year and it was a pleasure having her leading this country.

But in recent weeks she has struggled to stay on top of things and her usually sharp radar is not what it was  –  have you noticed?

Ardern, we believe, needs a reshuffle within her office to help identify political risks and associated problems earlier.  

Helen Clark had the current Finance Minister, a younger Grant Robertson, running interference in the early days of her reign. He buried bodies and issues that we still don’t know about. (Well, we do, we’re spies.)

Ardern needs a similar foil or perhaps a crisis unit to identify and quell errant ministers, risks or even parties. Senior experienced people with a record of success are needed urgently.

Obviously we’re increasingly concerned with the company she keeps and how she manages this. More on that later.

But Ms Ardern impressed us greatly at the end of last December. She led the pack. She was by far the best and most articulate among the place.

But since then things have got loose.

End of quote.

Jacinda Ardern is definitely struggling. She does not look happy and her staff are only part of the problem. She is mostly the problem: out of her depth, completely, and no hint of a life preserver in sight.

We know her own party let her down during the woeful handling of sexual allegations at Labour’s Youth Camp.

That’s backed up by former leader Helen Clark. Clark would never have tolerated such ignorance and casualism around what are very serious allegations.

The prime minister looked weak and too blasé in prosecuting the hierarchy of her own party. (In Russia we have all sorts of ways to make people go away.)

Ardern must create systems to reach into the party or pick a president who has her back. More people must be her eyes and ears across the public service and around the Beehive.

National’s Simon Bridges is openly smelling opportunity. His grin gives it away. It’s early days but things are happening in this Government around a lack of basic discipline that would normally be years away. It’s a warning. It’s sloppy and the price could be a one-term Government.

Ardern’s ability to control the message is lost when she’s poorly briefed or is surprised.

There are two Jacindas in public – the informed and warm, fun PM, and the defensive, short and direct PM. The latter version is harder for voters to warm to.

End of quote.

Denial isn’t a river in Africa. Unfortunately, Jacinda seems to think that denial is a valid option. It only works for so long, and when you are having more and more conversations but not actually doing anything, well, then you are exposed.

Garner goes on, this time about risks:

Labour, NZ First, Greens

Apart from everything and everyone in her Government, the greatest risk is the PM’s impending absence. Don’t underestimate this. Despite the criticism, Ardern is this Government’s greatest strength. Without her, who is it and what is it?

No one yet knows what a Winston Peters-run hydra looks like, feels like, and what it sounds like. Peters can be an openly gregarious and a fun guy but he can also be that cantankerous, curmudgeonly stick in the mud. The latter version won’t help Ardern at home bringing baby into the world. And it won’t help this fledging Government.

And when Peters travels overseas is Kelvin Davis in charge at home? Shudder. Could he explain what’s facing New Zealand in a crisis? Would you feel comfortable or would he just continue his (pointless) country-wide ‘marae and porkbones listening tour’ and get Grant Robertson to jump queue?

I mean, look at the nerve agent response, or lack of it; thanks for letting us stay. As real Russian spies our bags were already packed.

End of quote.

This is going to be a problem for Jacinda Ardern and Labour. They don’t think it will be a problem because they are lining up all sorts of soft media: Jacinda at the birthing centre, Jacinda at the nursing home, Jacinda and Mum with baby Charlie and on and on it will go until we are all sicking up in buckets.

Garner now explores her friends:

Obviously we Russians are given your warm approach to us.

But beware. Winston Peters will always have his own back and his MPs’ back before any alleged connection with Labour. So Shane Jones ain’t going away and neither does Peters want him to disappear. Without ‘the northern mouth trap’, NZ First is vanilla or missing. Jones will carry on and so he should – he just needs to be clever with his targets and language otherwise it will lose its impact.

The two others who come under the heading, ‘with friends like these who needs enemies’: Colonel Ron Mark was up in the air with the air force at the time of writing because he’s the defence minister and couldn’t be reached for comment; and NZ First’s Jenny Marcroft instructed us not to write a critical piece. Who is Jenny Marcroft? Didn’t she last work for Labour?

Ardern shouldn’t be afraid to set a standard early on ministerial behaviour. Open Government Minister Clare Curran is lucky to be there for doing her best to hide a meeting with the less than upfront Carol Hirschfeld. If one goes both go. Curran is a sitting target. She should at least lose broadcasting. But that leaves the Minister of Secrets in charge of Open Government. OK, she goes fully.

End of quote.

So, no friends. Burn!

What can we expect then?

And this is crucial. Too many reviews, lots of talk – little action. That’s because housing developments don’t just happen. Even Infometrics economists say KiwiBuild stands for ‘Labour pulling numbers from out of its own arse’. Just 9000 extra homes over four years will come from KiwiBuild if Infometrics is right. Who do you believe, Phil Twyford or a numbers man?

The prime minister needs a short chocolate break then she should return and read the riot act to her caucus and kick their butts. Then she should send Grant Robertson and H2 (Heather Simpson) over to NZ First and the Greens and remind them what usually happens when they cause trouble for a PM.

The prime minister must never be embarrassed – try doing it to our man, Putin. This Government has got loose, the nuts and bolts are falling off.

From Russia, via Karori, with love.

End of quote.

Jacinda Ardern is already seen as weak, and by the worst possible people for that to happen. Those are her coalition partners. I really don’t think Jacinda cares; she’s buggering off soon enough. She is just trying to get through the next few weeks, and a trip to the UK will help eat up some time there.

I think that six weeks’ leave is going to be somewhat more than that.

I imagine that Duncan Garner got a ‘please explain’ phone call yesterday; other journalists have had similar calls this past week. Like that has ever worked.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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