A reality check for Jacinda

Jacinda Ardern cracking Photoshopped image credit: Luke

Tracy Watkins seems to have stopped drinking the government’s Kool-Aid. Her latest article is quite critical of Jacinda, comparing her supposed ‘star’ status at Davos with the reality of what is going on at home. It makes a refreshing change to see the media reporting things as they are, for once. quote.

From being feted as the Davos darling by the world’s media, Jacinda Ardern’s return to New Zealand must have felt like a bucket of cold water in her face.

Ardern arrived back to a KiwiBuild shambles,  an unsettled back office, cancer waiting times, cost of living gripes, state sector strikes, (another) employer backlash over industrial relations reforms, fresh NZ First rumblings, tensions with China, and a bunch of political headaches that are about to land on her desk ? chief among them how to sell a capital gains tax, but also a raft of reports and inquiries on problems that Labour kicked down the road after getting into office.

No wonder Ardern looked like she’d rather be anywhere but here when she fronted her first Beehive press conference after Cabinet on Tuesday. end quite.

Sorry, Tracy, but that is her job. She may love being in the media spotlight and sharing the stage with royalty and billionaires, but her job is to run New Zealand… and she is not doing it very well. quote.

The reality on the domestic front is that climate change progress is stalled, while the “wellbeing” Budget is a much harder sell to a domestic audience because nobody is really quite sure what it means, and “wellbeing” in layman’s terms means being able to afford to fill up your car, or buy a house.

end quote.

I don’t think that is what Jacinda means by ‘wellbeing’. I think she means more welfare for people who have no intention of ever working. quote.

Fixing KiwiBuild, meanwhile, is going to require more than tweaking. It should have been obvious to all that the policy is too big to fail ? yet on the evidence so far, that is the road it is headed down.
There are now serious questions within her Government over whether the policy is still fit for purpose.

Some immediate tweaks will help.  It seems that only now are the scheme’s architects planning on surveying the tens of thousands of people who registered for KiwiBuild to find out what they want. The big question is why that never happened in the first place. end quote.

Or why they didn’t make changes to the RMA, force councils to release land for housing or actively recruit new builders from overseas to try to solve the chronic shortage of skilled workers? quote.

But more fundamental changes, like tossing more sweeteners at developers, are fraught. The Labour grassroots are already antsy that the programme delivers to middle New Zealand, and not the poorest Kiwis.  Lining the pockets of property developers will hardly mollify them. end quote.

Seizing private land will give them a thrill though. Just think… Stalin lives on in New Zealand. quote.

Resurrecting KiwiBuild might be the most pressing of the Ardern government’s problems. But it is far from the only one.

Her back office is in a state of flux, with a number of key staff leaving and others forced to reapply for their jobs as a result of restructuring.

That will be nothing compared to the likely scare campaign over a CGT, which National has already promised to repeal.
It’s not just a sceptical public Ardern has to win over either; in its fight to the death with National over its conservative, elderly base, NZ First could easily veto the move. end quote.

Bring it on, I say. It destroyed Labour’s chances in 2014. Who was it that said stupidity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result? quote.

Labour has made the start to its political year look so hard, in fact, that even the shadow of Jami-Lee Ross couldn’t detract from Simon Bridges’ “relaunch”. 
Bridges announced a shift in tax thresholds to ensure middle-income workers weren’t pushed into the top tax bracket ? a promise that ticks both the “fairness’ box and cost-of-living concerns.
Labour barely even bothered to criticise the announcement, because it knew that it would be popular.  end quote.

Smart move, Simon. Labour offers more taxes. National offers less taxes. Round 1 to Simon Bridges. quote.

Labour will also frame the CGT as argument about fairness… It also fits with Ardern’s narrative on fairness and inequality ? that was the argument she  took to Davos, with the warning that failing to counter the growing sense of “them and us” had led to the rise of nationalism and protectionism that has now plunged the global community into so much uncertainty.

But Ardern will have to back herself to sell that message on a CGT and be heard above the cacophony of opposition..

A Newspaper. end quote.

For this government, ‘fairness’ means taxing the same people over and over, while giving those close to the bottom a completely free ride. Elections are won in the centre, and there most people will see that this is a classic tax-and-spend socialist government that wastes money on middle class welfare and on people who just refuse to try to help themselves.

Jacinda loves the celebrity status her role provides, but she doesn’t like the tough stuff the role also brings. Unfortunately, she cannot have one without the other. This year, we will start to see what our prime minister and her government are really made of. Trust me… it isn’t going to be good.