THE HAPS

The election date is set, in 264 days it will be October 14 and we will have an election result. This is it, the chance to stop and reverse Labour’s destructive path, or watch it accelerate towards 2026 in a coalition with the Greens and Te Paati Māori. This week Free Press returns with an assessment of what the new Prime Minister means for New Zealanders’ future.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Media coverage of Ardern’s end has been about as weak as it gets. If you believe the hype, Ardern was a popular and competent Prime Minister dragged down by New Zealand’s dark underbelly of misogyny. They happily ignore everything else that matters to their audience in the process.

Free Press agrees with David Seymour. There is misogyny against female politicians. He said years ago "I have noticed that women in politics get nastier and more personal - including more sexualised - abuse.”

Every person should be doing their best to stop abuse of anyone, including women, for trying to succeed. Misogyny is an acute and nasty case of that Kiwi dark underbelly, tall poppy syndrome, that Free Press rails against.

But does misogyny explain Ardern’s downfall? The first thing anyone opposed to misogyny should do is listen to women and take them seriously. Ardern herself was asked ‘the job of Prime Minister has gotten more dangerous, threats to your office have increased in recent years, how much did that weigh on you in making this decision?’

Ardern shook her head as the question wound up and shot back ‘it didn’t.’ She went on to say ‘I don’t want to leave the impression that the adversity you face in politics is the reason that people exit.’ None of that has stopped the screaming headlines like ‘Shame on our misogyny: It's no wonder Jacinda Ardern was driven from office.’

So much for listening to women. The reporting is also illogical. David Farrar has done an excellent analysis of Ardern’s approval ratings using five-and-a-half years of data. In June 2020 Ardern had a staggering 72 per cent rating (80 per cent favourable, 8 per cent unfavourable).

Today that figure stands at negative 1 (40 per cent favourable, 41 per cent unfavourable). If you take the media narrative, New Zealanders were model progressive citizens in June 2020, now we’re all misogynists.

Here’s another analysis that takes Ardern at her word and fits the facts: Ardern’s approval rating went down because she talked a good game but none of her policies actually worked.

Her first announcement was that light rail would be built straight down the Dominion Road by 2021. No works have started.

She said climate change would be her generation’s ‘nuclear free moment’, but carbon emissions flatlined under her Government after falling for the previous decade.

She promised to build 100,000 KiwiBuild houses, but only one per cent of that were built and thousands live in motels while house prices stretched even further from the reach of disillusioned millennials.

She said ending child poverty was her priority, and the number of children in material hardship went down by about 20,000, but 30,000 more children now live in a household dependent on a benefit.

That’s before you get to the rampant inflation and rising mortgage rates squeezing household budgets, the lawlessness that makes running a dairy or liquor store a dangerous occupation, and the stealth constitutional transformation that has turned the Treaty into a source of division when treaties are by their very nature designed to unite people.

No worries. Now there’s a new guy in town. Who is Chris Hipkins? Well, he’s a walking disaster.

He’s the guy who’s been Minister of Education for the last five years, while attendance rates have plummeted. He’s the guy who oversaw the new history curriculum that divides New Zealanders into victims and villains. He’s the guy responsible for the unmitigated cluster of merging the most and least successful polytechs into one big sea of mediocrity. He’s the guy who shut down charter schools, refusing to even assess if they were working first.

He’s the guy who was Minister of Health after David Clark went mountain biking and got lost. The same healthcare system that is not breaking, but broken.

Ardern’s slump occurred as the COVID response went wrong. Chippy’s the guy who was Minister for COVID-19 Response, responsible for the disasters of testing, tracing, MIQ, nonsensical rules. He’s the guy who apparently forgot to order the vaccines. He never explained how we got from the ‘front of the queue’ for ordering vaccines to the bottom of the OECD for vaccination rates while Auckland waited months in lockdown.

He’s also the guy who leaked pregnant journalist Charlotte Bellis’ private information to the media, then refused to apologise until the courts found his MIQ regime to be unjust. After all, he did learn the ropes working as a staffer for Trevor Mallard.

What a guy! But despite all that he’s promising to reset Labour’s agenda. The party has lost twenty per cent in two years in the polls, business confidence is at a two year low, polling on right direction vs. wrong direction is negative at 33 vs. 53 for the country.

To have half a chance he’ll need to accept almost everything Labour’s done for five years is wrong, and dump it. The blow out in Government spending and the hostile approach to immigration that are causing inflation. The employment insurance that is really just a jobs tax, the so-called fair pay agreements amongst a raft of anti-business and anti-farming regulation that have destroyed business confidence. The co-government agenda that is transforming New Zealand’s constitution by stealth. It all needs to go.

Free Press predicts it won’t. We predict that backdowns themselves will be spin over substance. National’s Chris and Labour’s Chris will get closer together and the only vote for real change will be a Party Vote for ACT. Bring on October 14!

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