Farmer Focus: Ardern’s resignation was hardly a surprise

The start of the political new year heralded headline news across the world. Our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, resigned. “Shock”, “sudden” and “surprise” were used to describe the announcement.

In my view, it was nothing more than a well-rehearsed PR exercise that saw the seamless handover of power to a senior member of the Labour caucus, namely Chris Hipkins (Ms Ardern’s Mr Fix-it and minister of Covid-19).

See also:  How 8 farmers are responding to high fertiliser prices

About the author

David Clark
Farmer Focus writer
David Clark runs a 463ha fully irrigated mixed farm with his wife Jayne at Valetta, on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand’s south island. He grows 400ha of cereals, pulses, forage and vegetable seed crops, runs 1,000 Romney breeding ewes and finishes 8,000 lambs annually.
Read more articles by David Clark

Ms Ardern came into power in a coalition in 2017, on the back of a glitzy campaign promising “transformational change”, our “nuclear-free” moment for climate change, an end to child poverty, and 100,000 social houses. The list was fanciful; the punters loved it.

The 2020 election handed them an outright majority (never seen in our 30-year history of proportional representation) on the back of two things: an opposition in disarray and a population who thought they had been “kept alive” by Ms Ardern’s Covid-19 response.

While the spin could be spun and the adulating crowds flocked, they could do no wrong. The only flaw in the plan was they achieved nothing that had been promised.

Of the 100,000 social homes in a decade, 1,600 had been built in five years. Every social metric campaigned on is now worse.

We now import more coal than ever before, and we have been set on the course of a very divisive, race-based agenda.

Added to the policy promise failures, the population has grown tired of the “command and control” theme of our Covid response.

So, the tickertape waving crowds have gone and been replaced by grumpy, disillusioned voices demanding answers.

The dilemma Ms Ardern faced was she couldn’t campaign to contest the upcoming election without defending the track record of her government.

So what we have now is a “fresh new team” made up of senior figures of the past five years of lacklustre achievement who are promising to “take an axe” to policy ambitions and get back to “bread-and-butter” issues facing Kiwi families.

Whether this will be achieved or is more spin to convince the punters, time will tell, but the landslide defeat that the incumbent government was facing is now a much tighter race, in my view.

Need a contractor?

Find one now