What's with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her proclivity to spend Sundays making minor announcements, dressed up as major announcements, so she can get some easy coverage on the television news?

The trouble with small countries like ours is very little happens on the weekends outside of sport and road accidents.

Media organisations know this and staff accordingly. Thus if you look closely on a Saturday or Sunday night on the news, it's the accident report, followed by international tape that's come in overnight, and the obligatory puff pieces to fill it all out, until the weather starts.


Governments use this to their advantage, hence you will note this Government has, of late, started using Sundays to make headlines.

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First one was the day after that infamous National Party conference in which Simon Bridges, almost unbelievably, was able to announce a cancer agency despite the fact it was Labour policy. So having stolen Saturday's news, Labour rolled up on Sunday with an announcement of their own. This one involved moving cancer equipment to some of the regions.

In the grand scheme of things it meant nothing, did little, but served its purpose: it was on the news.

Then the other Sunday they rolled out their cancer service policy, this was the one they should have rolled out before National. But better late than never... or was it?

In reality, it was nothing more than intention. They would end the postcode nature of the disease, how? No one seemed to know, they still don't. I asked the Prime Minister last week, she told me to stand by for Heather Simpson's DHB report. I did, it came the next day, and it recommended nothing.

I also asked about the targets they talked of. They already have targets, they are not being met, half of the DHBs are failing to meet them. So what do they do about that? Nothing. What did the report recommend about doing about it? Nothing.

All that came out of that Sunday was $60 million for Pharmac, which isn't really $60 million, it's $20m per year over three years. Remembering of course that once you give someone a $20m pay rise to have them not go backwards next year it's another $20m, so in essence you're only getting $20 million more drugs.


And then last Sunday, mental health. A scheme whereby you can go to your doctor and get your warts seen to and some mental health as well. Good theory, except it's only at a handful of clinics. In other words, it's not a policy, it's an intention.

Which is what they did with the school lunches, the only difference being that wasn't announced on a Sunday (given schools aren't open). Lunch will be served at 30 schools, it may end up rolling out to 120, still a couple of thousand schools will miss out. Like hundreds of thousands of patients will miss out on mental health.

No one ever seems to point this out. Ardern is hardly ever held to account. She turns up, smiles, talks a big game, hugs one of the recipients of whatever the largesse involves, gets on the news, and is gone.

If there were votes for announcing stuff that may or may not ever happen it would be a landslide. Let's call it 'seed of an idea Sunday' or 'the policy that's not really a policy'.

It's a visual press release, where next to nothing changes, but you get your picture on the telly. If there are learnings, let's at least start seeing them for what they are.