The Australian’s Foreign Editor, Greg Sheridan writes:
No international halo is so shabby, or so fraudulent, as that worn by New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Politically she resembles Dan Andrews. They excel in woke gesture and progressive symbolism. Their achievements in real policy terms are thin or negative.
This is a judgment against the dominant narrative concerning Ardern, so let’s first acknowledge her strengths. Our Kiwi cousins go to the polls on Saturday and Ardern will likely win a second term, perhaps in coalition with the Green Party. The chief restraint of her first term, the mercurial Winston Peters’s New Zealand First Party, probably won’t make it back to parliament. Ardern has done three positive things. She has just about eradicated COVID-19. She has navigated the politics of the virus so well she stands on the brink of electoral triumph. And she responded with moral clarity and decency to the Christchurch massacre. However, she has still been a poor Prime Minister, elected almost by accident under the Byzantine protocols of her country’s eccentric electoral system, though she won far fewer votes than the National government she replaced.
This is the point I have been promoting. On almost every major issue they campaign on, they have acheieved nothing or worse.
The more total your shutdown, the more you can eradicate COVID-19. It’s then a matter of keeping your borders shut. This, incidentally, is medieval plague policy — keep everyone out and keep everyone isolated until the plague runs its course.
New Zealanders embraced this policy for the sake of getting rid of the virus. But this is not remotely comparable to the achievements of nations such as Taiwan, South Korea and to some extent Singapore, which have kept the virus under control or out altogether while also keeping their society and economy going.
A lockdown and shutdown will eliminate the virus, but also a lot of jobs. Taiwan has shown how to do it without a shutdown.
Before COVID-19, Ardern was trailing in the polls. Her list of undelivered election promises is staggering: 100,000 affordable homes promised, 600 built; homelessness to be eradicated, it increased; zero carbon emissions by 2050, emissions went up; reduce child poverty, it went up; regional public service emphasis, more public servants based in Wellington than before; light rail from Auckland airport to CBD, abandoned.
I wonder if he’s been reading Kiwiblog!
Validated by a swooning international media, unchallenged by a tepid and under-resourced local media, she has sold the narrative that her government has saved NZ. With Peters gone, and the Greens more influential, she will move left in her second term, presaging a lost decade for our beloved cousins across the ditch. One consolation: the best of them will come here.
You’re never left wondering what an Australian journalist really thinks.