A guest post by Liam Hehir:
I sometimes get asked why I’ll write about one topic and not another. People can be disappointed that I haven’t addressed a subject they thought merited comment. I thought I might give an illustration of why I thought this happens.
As I sat down last Sunday to compose my Tuesday column, I wasn’t sure what to write about. There were about six or seven options. The one that interested me most was probably the government’s Spring of Discontent.
With business confidence plummeting in anticipation of new labour laws, the economic outlook is an important topic. There’s already been a lot of argument about how much mind we should pay to business gloominess. And, given that the health of the economy is usually the top concern for voters, there’s room for more argument still.
So why didn’t I write about it?
The rumour was that the prime minister, returning from leave, would hit the ground running with some substantive announcement on Monday that was going to put business at ease. Specifically, the announcement was going to address the subject of trade. My deadline is 4.00 pm on Sunday so, to avoid being overtaken by events, I went with the proposed VUW name change.
In the event, all Ardern announced was something called “Trade for All”. As far as I can tell, it’s some kind of working group (if you can imagine such a thing from this government). It’s going to consider how to ensure the benefits of trade can be more fairly better distributed. And, to do this, it’s going to tour the country holding public meetings.
So, you know, if you’re a panel beater who’s been hard at it all day you can go along to some meeting to talk about the social dimensions of international trade for a few hours before going home to complete your GST return. What small business owner wouldn’t jump at that opportunity? You can hear their sighs of relief already!
The reality is that a new centre-left government was always going to come hand-in-hand with a decrease in political satire. We’re just not going to see many zingers aimed at the government from the back pages of our newspaper sections (at least for a while). But it might not be so unfair if the government keeps on parodying itself.
Anyway, that’s a textbook example in missing a window. In the unlikely event that the “Trade for All” roadshow doesn’t magically cure things, I could always write about it next week. But the caravan moves on.
By Sunday, I doubt we will even still be talking about Don Brash.
A number of people were fooled into thinking the Government’s trade announcement would be something of substance.