You could almost hear the guffawing from Judith Collins office in Parliament when Jacinda Ardern finished her press conference last night saying that the fresh outbreak of Covid-19 "is not a political matter".

It will determine the outcome of the next election, it may consign National to another three years in Opposition, send New Zealand First and the Greens to oblivion, and return the first majority Government under MMP but, no, it is not technically a political matter.

It is a health issue, the Prime Minister is able to say with the deepest of sincerity.

She can say so, safe in the knowledge that any rival politician who points out that Auckland's latest Covid-19 crisis is a huge political advantage to Ardern and a disadvantage to their parties will compound that disadvantage.

Advertisement

There is little sympathy for a political party as victim at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a health and economic crisis. Collins is in danger of looking more worried about the election than Covid-19.

With the election only 38 days way, it is not surprising that she wants to put as much distance as possible between a resurgence in Jacinda Ardern's crisis leadership.

She has had to cancel her party's campaign launch in south Auckland next Sunday and suspend her campaign while the Prime Minister beams into the living rooms of the nation playing a cross between Florence Nightingale and Winston Churchill.

Labour will want as little distance as possible between the latest outbreak and the election, assuming the new outbreak is controlled and that Auckland can return to alert level 2.

Labour holds all the cards.

Ardern had a small decision to make today in delaying the dissolution of the Parliament but a bigger one to make over whether to delay the election.

The dissolution had been due to happen at 11am and is a ceremony which the Governor-General orders on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Once dissolved, the Governor-General issues a writ directing the Chief Electoral Office to hold an election and that can only be haven delayed by the Electoral Commission.

Advertisement

But while the Parliament is not yet dissolved, the power still remains with the Prime Minister, so she now has choices - and proper consultation is essential.

Judith Collins complained that she was not being properly consulted on Covid-19 You You could almost hear the guffawing from Judith Collins office in Parliament when Jacinda Ardern finished her press conference last night saying that the fresh outbreak of Covid-19 "is not a political matter".

It will determine the outcome of the next election, it may consign National to another three years in Opposition, send New Zealand First and the Greens to oblivion, and return the first majority Government under MMP but, no, it is not technically a political matter.

It is a health issue, the Prime Minister is able to say with the deepest of sincerity.decisions with an election so close (somewhat odd given that she supported the decision to move to level 3).

Ardern pointed out that the caretaker convention was after, not before the election.

But there is also a convention of no important appointments being made close to an election.

Advertisement

An election date is not an appointment but as Ardern is fond of saying, there is no playbook for this pandemic.

A reconsideration of the election date in the interest of fairness to voters and candidates warrants a special case for special consultation by Ardern.

It is the Covid election after all.