Easter is upon us and our dairies are chocker with eggs. Firm on the outside but mushy in the middle. Not unlike those in the political nest.
If early 2023 is a clue for what will happen later in the year, we are guaranteed a torrid ride. Jacinda Ardern has left the stage amidst conflicting emotions. For some, she was the lucky dip PM. A beneficiary of MMP coalition politics who lost her way after the handbrake was removed.
For others, she was our global leading light, our Covid saviour. A halo deftly curated within the Beehive. A treacherous slope for politicians. Too much tailoring leads to Disney-fication as opposed to the grime of practical results.
Now her 2020 stunning victory is rarely talked about, yet so many voted for her. Sadly, Ardern’s electoral dividend was largely wasted. As an example, the $1.9 billion mental health initiative of 2019 has withered on the bureaucratic vine.
Her successor has a taste for policy pyromania. His much-vaunted bonfire is worthy of Blackadder. Cunning to the extent even media commentators regard it as weasel-like. This is fitting, given Chippy fuels the fire with frames he helped build.
In the short term, beltway smoke and mirrors might feel good but there is no escaping the failure to deliver. What rankles are anaemic law and order outcomes, treating the nation’s finances like some UN aid agency while panel-beating the Treaty of Waitangi for divisive purposes.
The recent Auckland harbour crossing pledge is tainted by the $30 billion light rail fiasco. People no longer trust Labour or claims it can deliver such hefty projects. They also know that relying on Michael Wood to improve anything is daft.
Auckland light rail will be abandoned, like the Bridge to Nowhere, a doomed colonial venture in back-blocks of the Whanganui National Park. Far fetched? No, Labour has already wasted $51 million on a Waitematā bike lane to nowhere. History repeats.
Obviously, the Auckland City Rail Link (CRL) project has to be completed. It should then be evaluated, preferably by an Aussie. Our Kiwi government consultants don’t need the work. Given the CRL budget explosion, light rail could cost Kiwi taxpayers up to $70 billion.
Inevitably, there will be more volatile weather. Governments need to safeguard our national transport infrastructure before funding lavish train rides to the international airport.
The Green co-governance partners are crumbling over pronouns. Climate change budgets are eclipsed by the cost of a cauliflower. Zero carbon initiatives are gazumped and there’s no more talk of nuclear moments for fear of electoral fallout.
They focus on whipping up hysteria against cis white men. According to our Statistics Department, reptiles, birds and bats face extinction. James Shaw and Marama Davidson are meanwhile defending transgender radicalism.
There are far more women voters than transgender picketers, just ask Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon. Perhaps the Albert Park fiasco marks the decline of identity politics.
Voting will happen in a time of political polarisation. The co-governance agenda has conditioned New Zealanders to be mute or be branded racist. Those who sowed such fear are about to reap the electoral whirlwind.
Free-speech champions will be needed during the election. There is an appetite within the community for plain Kiwi-speak. It is sorely missing in matters of race relations. Sadly, neither Labour or National can deliver in this regard.
The lightning rod is co-governance. The evolution of this concept from joint DoC management of isolated reserves to controlling multi-billion Three Waters utilities spells its demise. For voters, it has become fused with a perception of eternal Treaty grievance.
This heresy is now used to justify Mongrel Mob gang outrages. Faux cultural reports served up to judges to mitigate gang crimes. Personal responsibility is now regarded as the new colonialism.
The advocates who blame Captain Cook for today’s gang criminality are ignorant. Te Rauparaha and Tāmati Wāka Nene were not boy scouts. They knew tolerating law-breaking destroyed the village and it takes a village to raise a child. Gangs desecrate village life.
Actually robust policing, a la Queensland, will do more to curb gang menace than decolonisation reports. Under Labour’s naive kindness and compassion mantra, the gangs have thrived.
Ram raids show there is a new cohort being pulled into the gang universe. They are predominantly rangatahi, Māori youth, and only forceful action will impact their misguided decision-making, but this approach is at variance with most Māori politicians.
As more of these offenders act out scenes like a Mad Max movie, the police and courts seem to have lost their way. However, there will be neon signposts writ large after the next election.
Fortunately, community members are voters. Once in the booth, they will not be cowed by gangs or social engineering politicians. They may tolerate bunnies at Easter but they know the time for tough love has arrived.
- Shane Jones is a former Labour MP and NZ First MP and was the first Minister for Regional Economic Development.