In 2008, Republican Party operatives discovered when preparing vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin for her debate with Democrat Joe Biden that “she doesn’t know anything”. In 2017, New Zealand Labour may have similarly landed itself with a prime ministerial candidate without the basic background knowledge to be a credible candidate for high office.
Is this a fair comparison? I don’t think it is. I think Arden is more substantive than Palin.
Ms Ardern’s most obvious weakness is tax policy. …
What has really damaged Ms Ardern is that it has become clear she has never given tax policy any thought even in the broadest brushstrokes.
Initially, she ring-fenced increasing GST and income tax from the TWG’s work, except for promising to reverse the $1000-a-year cuts to income tax that National legislated for next year. When asked by the Australian Financial Review, Ms Ardern later extended her commitment to company tax.
On the proposed capital gains tax (CGT), Ms Ardern ruled out including the “family home” – whatever that means in contemporary New Zealand – but was unable to answer whether the “family home” exemption would also extend to a land tax, seemingly not understanding the difference between the two. After a painful few hours, Labour moved to rule out all taxes on the “family home”, but that raises all sorts of questions about where the “family home” ends and the shop, farm or other business begins – or when a big urban backyard stops being a place for kids to run around and becomes land-banking. Maori might argue with some legitimacy that their marae is in some sense more the “family home” than where the whanau happens to live now.
The surprising thing is not that these can be difficult questions – exactly the sort of thing a TWG might be best to resolve – but that Ms Ardern seems never to have contemplated that they might even arise.
Everyday she had to make up more tax policy on the hoof.
Tax could perhaps just be dismissed as not Ms Ardern’s thing, but there is a wider pattern of flakery.
The still-likely next prime minister has declared climate change “my generation’s nuclear-free moment” but her actual policy appears to extend no further than implementing the Emissions Trading Scheme as legislated and setting up a new Climate Commission.
Ms Ardern has said her “entire reason for being in politics is to rid this country of child poverty” but in nine years in parliament she has proposed not a single meaningful initiative to do so, other than launching a Child Poverty Reduction and Eradication Bill which would have established a new Child Poverty Reduction Board.
The bill is here in case you don’t believe Matthew. It solves child poverty by setting up a board. Just as you solve climate change with a commission and solve tax with a working group.
None of this suggests the prime minister-assumptive is the policy wonk she claims. The inadequacy of Labour’s policy positions is more indicative of a person whose experience is limited to moving from school, to a Bachelor in Communications Studies at the University of Waikato, to being a parliamentary staffer, and then a list MP.
And the Morrinsville Fish & Chip shop.
After six weeks, even the daily left-wing media has now woken up to the fact Ms Ardern is indeed a flake. But the polls have already been open for five days as part of the Electoral Commission’s effort to attract the left-leaning “missing million” to vote, including by dropping in to gang headquarters.
In fact, by the time you read this, more than 200,000 people will already have cast their votes. By the time the final leaders’ debate is held on Wednesday night, the number may be over one million. It will hardly matter how badly Ms Ardern performs that night – with the help of the Electoral Commission, she may already have wrapped this one up.
I already know of people who have advance voted and now want to change their vote!