For all those television and radio show hosts incessantly beating up on Jacinda Ardern for her indiscreet relaying of some choice details of conversations relating to US President Donald Trump — please think.

It is risible to claim that the Trump comments will undermine New Zealand's relationship with the United States. An off-the-cuff comment about being mistaken for Justin Trudeau's wife will neither embarrass the US President, nor have any diplomatic implications at all.

It provides momentary amusement, but it is simply inconsequential. It will soon melt into the background as international interest moves on from the novelty of our youthful new Prime Minister and concentrates on the Labour-New Zealand First coalition Government's progress as it gets some runs on the board through concrete initiatives.

In any event, being a good gossip is an under-rated quality for becoming a successful Prime Minister in tiny New Zealand, where we are all just two or three steps removed from each other.


Let me point out that Ardern's two immediate predecessors were virtuosos when it came to seeding high-level gossip.

Helen Clark dined out on an informal comment that George W Bush apparently made at one international soiree, where the former US President suggested she would be a good fit for his Cabinet (this was before Iraq).

Sir John Key was similar. The most significant comment Key made to me was his relaying that Chinese President Xi Jinping told him that in China the "invisible hand of the market was guided by the visible hand of government".

Clark and Key both knew of my keen interest in international politics. So the gossip they relayed to me was well-targeted. It would have been different with a gossip columnist, or close colleagues.

As Ardern matures in her role, she will also learn to differentiate whom she entrusts with more personal comments (not "friends" who want to show off their links with the PM).
Her platform of idealism is understood.

So too, the activism which saw her lead an international youth socialist organisation.

Outside the beltway focus on the all too obvious pratfalls, there is tolerance for the new Government's settling-in period.

It is not going too far to say Ardern is enjoying a political honeymoon. The country and business want her to do well — it is in all our interests.

Capable Cabinet ministers like David Parker helped her achieve real runs on the board on the trade front at Apec.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has now laid the groundwork for what promises to be a radical shift in New Zealand's taxation structure, by appointing former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen to head a tax working group which will evolve recommendations on a capital gains taxation framework.

This fundamental shift is long overdue. It has arguably been delayed by the self-interest of prior Parliaments.

A "tight five" of ministers has now emerged who will give this Government heft.

Apart from Robertson and Parker, Phil Twyford, Shane Jones and Winston Peters are providing early differentiation from the prior National Government.

The upshot is that the latest Roy Morgan poll shows support for the coalition Government (and the Greens) has increased by 6 per cent to 54.5 per cent.

The Government confidence rating is at its highest in almost eight years, jumping 15.5 points to 146.5 points in November. The last time confidence was this high was in January 2010 when Key was in his heyday.

With 66.5 per cent saying NZ is heading in the right direction, it is time for the new Government to capitalise on that support and get down to sustained work.

In this regard, it is a pity that Ardern and Robertson have so far missed some major opportunities to enlist business support.

Yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister was expected to meet with chief executives from the major companies wing of BusinessNZ.

Robertson will follow this up with an address to a senior business audience in early December.

But the pair missed a stellar opportunity to attend the prestigious Deloitte Top 200 awards on Thursday evening.

Not only would they have been welcomed by a top-level audience that does want to see social change, but they would have heard an excellent and inspiring address by Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon.

As Luxon said, "We will all get the country — the environment, the society and the economy — we all deserve.

"Building a sustainable and better New Zealand is a cause well worth putting all our collective efforts and energy behind as business leaders working together with government and community leaders.

"Fundamentally, business needs a strong society and society needs strong business. The two are intrinsically linked and mutually reinforcing."

There is goodwill within the business community — it just needs to be tapped.