It feels like Labour's turned a corner. Finally, the party looks like it knows what it's doing in government.

Which is a weird thing to say. Because the past week and a half has been rotten for Labour. Two ministers down. Business confidence still in free fall.

But these things happen. Things go wrong. It's not those events that define a government as much as how that government responds.


And this government is finally calling the shots like a money-earning Wall Street broker.

Take the stand-downs of Meka Whaitiri and Clare Curran. In both cases the Prime Minister seems to have acted decisively and nipped the problems in the bud.

Compare that to the far-too-lenient way Jacinda Ardern dealt with similar issues earlier this year. She should've fired Clare Curran the first time. She should've demanded a head when Labour HQ deliberately hid the Young Labour summer camp sex allegations from her.

So, the firing/standing down of two ministers makes Ardern look stronger. That change is so welcome, it eclipses the fact that Labour clearly has a talent problem if those two numpties are good enough to be ministers.

Then compare Labour's changed attitude to business. Only a few months back Labour was all DGAF. It pulled the pin on a hand grenade and lobbed it at the oil and gas industry. No consultation, no warnings, nothing. Just poof, industry over.

What a contrast to last week when the PM gathered business leaders for a kumbaya speech. She told business she would now be listening and announced a working group (yes, another one) to make that happen.

She headhunted Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon to lead that group so it has some credibility. Sure, business got nothing concrete from the whole charade. But the message is enough. Government is listening. That's an attitudinal 180.

If you could pinpoint when Labour morphed into a real government, you might land on the Prime Minister's return from maternity leave. It was almost as if that six-week break gave Labour time to regather and start again. Catch its breath if you like. Remember, this was a party that didn't think it would win government. It was caught on the hop and has been scrambling ever since.


Since then, there have been populist announcements. A pay freeze for politicians. Scrapping bonuses for public servants. It's hard to argue against either.

There's been a photo op with the All Blacks. Straight out of John Key's playbook, that one.

There was a Prime Ministerial defence of Dr Don Brash after Massey University cancelled his speech. Remember, Ardern was defending a former National Party leader. In doing so, she was also out of step with lots of hardcore Labour luvvies who wanted him silenced. That's some good cross party appeal right there.

And Labour's learned to moved fast. Getting all the travelling MPs into a bus for a trip from Wellington to the Wairarapa was a sweet move. That happened the day after the leak of National leader Simon Bridges' expenses. What a way to say National is entitled and Labour is slumming it like the rest of you Kiwis out there.

Still, this Government isn't totally gaffe free.

Ardern should have fired Curran from all her portfolios, not just two. She shouldn't have bought a fight by saying the Bridges leak came from National. The justice summit didn't need to be a debacle. The business confidence numbers are still haunting Labour. Shane Jones should be given a mouth-sized cork.

But, still this Labour Government feels a world away from the freshies that didn't realise the ramifications of spontaneously cancelling oil and gas exploration.

And things will only get better for Labour if voters reward it with an uptick in the polls. Which is a possibility. Especially when you consider the blows the National Party's taken in the past fortnight. It's possible a fair bit of damage has been done by the mystery over whether a snitch in the party is trying to tip up Bridges as leader.

If that means voters move from National to Labour, it could be the start of a winning streak for this Government.