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Dr Muriel Newman

Labour’s Leadership Vacuum

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In some cases being a ‘soft touch’ is a positive and appropriate. But not when one is the Prime Minister. Jacinda Ardern is increasingly looking out of her depth. But if she’s not really in control of the country, the question is, who is?

A coalition between New Zealand First and the Greens was never going to be easy. Popularism does not sit comfortably with environmental and social justice extremism.  Controlling those conflicting agendas was always going to be a challenge for the new Prime Minister. But questions are now being raised about whether she’s up to the task – which is probably what Winston Peters knew when he selected her, rather than Bill English, for the top job.  

The reality is that barely five months after the election, the ‘Jacindamania’ star dust has disappeared and the Prime Minister’s role is already appearing more symbolic than real, with David Parker, Grant Robertson, and Winston Peters seemingly running the show. The PM must be counting down the days to 14 June when she takes maternity leave.

Jacinda Ardern’s soft touch was all too evident in her response to the reports of under-age drinking and allegations of sexual assault at a Young Labour-organised summer camp. The problem for the PM was that the Party’s hierarchy failed to notify her, the Police or parents about the affair. Yet, in spite of being badly let down, no heads rolled – no-one was held to account for the raft of serious failures.

Her soft touch on Russia made New Zealand into a laughing stock on the world stage. In response to the call by the British Prime Minister Theresa May for solidarity, following last month’s chemical attack in Salisbury, almost 30 countries have expelled around 150 suspected Russian spies.

But instead of responding immediately with expulsions, our Prime Minister eventually claimed we don’t have any spies here: “While other countries have announced they are expelling undeclared Russian intelligence agents, officials have advised there are no individuals here in New Zealand who fit this profile. If there were, we would have already taken action.”

Her comments, which would have brought the house down if it were a comedy festival, resulted in mockery around the world. The Guardian newspaper’s headlines were typical: “New Zealand says it would expel Russian spies … but it can’t find any”.

The Prime Minister’s claim that New Zealand is spy-free is even more bizarre given New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance alongside Australia, the UK, the US and Canada.

Meanwhile in Britain, the retired Russian spy Sergei Skripal – a double agent who had worked for British intelligence – remains critically ill in hospital after being poisoned last month by a rare, military-grade and deadly nerve agent that reportedly could only have been produced by Russia. His daughter Yulia, who was also poisoned, is now reported to be improving.

This latest attack on British soil follows the 2006 attack on another former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, who died after being poisoned in a London hotel by a rare, highly radioactive isotope. That murder, a British inquiry found, was most likely to have been ordered by the Russian President.

In fact, a number of Russians, who may have fallen foul of the Kremlin, are reported to have died under suspicious circumstances in Britain – such as from heart attacks while jogging and mysterious ‘suicides’ – including one such case, where the ‘suicide’ victim was impaled on an iron fence after falling from a building. Those deaths are now being re-examined.

A former KGB agent, Boris Karpichkov, who lived in New Zealand for fifteen months, alleges he was poisoned by a powder thrown in his face on Auckland’s Queen St in 2006. He says that Jacinda Ardern’s claims that there are no Russian spies in New Zealand, shows she’s either naive or misinformed: “Of course” there are undeclared Russian intelligence agents in the country – likely a small number who are perhaps military personnel.”

The countries that have expelled Russian diplomats to date include the United States, which has expelled 60, Britain 23, Ukraine 13, Nato 7, Canada 4, France 4, Germany 4, Poland 4, Czech Republic 3, Lithuania 3, Moldova 3, Albania 2, Australia 2, Denmark 2, Italy 2, The Netherlands 2, Spain 2, Belgium 1, Croatia 1, Estonia 1, Hungary 1, Ireland 1, Finland 1, Latvia 1, Macedonia 1, Norway 1, Romania 1, and Sweden 1.

By going soft on Russia and taking far too long to support Britain, Jacinda Ardern made it look like Winston Peters was driving the response, instead of her. 

In fact, Jacinda Adern seems increasingly uncertain about how to handle New Zealand First.

When the Minister for Regional Development, Shane Jones, made his over-dramatic call for heads to roll on the board of Air New Zealand, the PM’s call for him to desist was ignored. Yet even though the Minister would have known that board members are elected at the company’s annual general meeting in accordance with Stock Exchange rules, that didn’t stop his attention-seeking.

By ignoring Jacinda Ardern, Shane Jones made her look like a PM without influence.

Then there was the bizarre Jenny Marcroft affair.

It is simply not credible that a new backbench New Zealand First list MP would, off her own bat, attempt to gag an experienced National MP, to prevent him from asking New Zealand First Ministers awkward questions in Parliament. In fact, it’s about as credible as suggesting the Aussie cricket captain didn’t know his newcomer bowler was applying sandpaper to the cricket ball.

The controversy centres on the fact that the Mahurangi River Restoration Project, which the Rodney electorate MP Mark Mitchell has long championed, is under the jurisdiction of the Auckland Council and therefore doesn’t strictly meet Provincial Growth Fund criteria. If New Zealand First’s Regional Development Minister was to fund the project, he would be breaking the rules.

Mark Mitchell alleges that New Zealand First had threatened to withhold regional development funding for the project, unless he ended his involvement and stopped criticising their ministers. He claims Jenny Marcroft said she was acting under instruction from a Minister, but refused to name who it was. She later sent a text message asking him “to forget the conversation”.

In Parliament, the Prime Minister said she had been assured by all four New Zealand First ministers that they’d had nothing to do with the matter and she now considered it resolved: “My job is to take ministers at their word. They have each assured me they were not involved in what’s happened here. And that leaves it to be an issue about an MP’s behaviour and for that it’s up to the leader of New Zealand First to respond.”

At least the Aussie cricketers admitted cheating.

Then there was the bizarre behaviour of the Greens.

The Prime Minister must have been bewildered by the surprise announcement that the Greens were gifting their allotment of parliamentary questions to National. While James Shaw claimed they were doing it to improve ministerial accountability, Jacinda Ardern would have known that it breached their coalition agreement, which states, “The Labour and Green Parties will cooperate with each other in respect of executive and parliamentary activities, consult closely, and operate with mutual respect to achieve agreed outcomes.”

There is a view that the move is less about improving accountability, and more to do with preventing the non-ministerial Green MPs from raising concerns of party members that may prove embarrassing to the Government. However, whatever the reasoning, the move by James Shaw was extraordinary and done without regard to the Prime Minister or their agreement.

But without a doubt, the Prime Minister’s biggest debacle has been the Clare Curran affair.

In their election manifesto, Labour’s promise of a $38 million boost for “quality programming and journalism”, included plans to turn Radio NZ into a fully multi-platform non-commercial broadcaster, with a free to air television service. As Broadcasting Spokesman, Clare Curran strongly supported a new TV station, and after becoming Minister, arranged a meeting with Radio NZ’s Head of News, Carol Hirschfeld, whom she knew to be supportive.

With the Radio NZ Board having different objectives, the meeting was not arranged through the proper channels used for Ministerial meetings.

In the end, the attempts by Carol Hirschfeld to cover up the fact that the meeting had been pre-organised and wasn’t just a chance encounter, cost her her job, since it resulted in the Radio NZ Chairman, Richard Griffin, and Chief Executive, Paul Thompson, misleading a Parliamentary Select Committee.

The instigator of the whole saga, Clare Curran, however, got off scot free, with the Prime Minister claiming, “The Minister, in holding this meeting, was not acting in breach of the Cabinet Manual”.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator David Farrar, a political analyst who has investigated the whole affair, disagrees. He quotes the Cabinet Manual (s3.81), which says:

“If an employee wishes to communicate privately with a Minister about a matter concerning the agency by which he or she is employed, the Minister should ensure that the employee has first raised the matter with the agency’s chief executive.

Since Clare Curran was aware that the Radio NZ Chief Executive – who had already set up a television service to broadcast Checkpoint at 5pm each day – was opposed to a new stand-alone full-time TV station, she knowingly breached the Cabinet manual rules when she arranged the ‘off the record’ meeting with a Radio NZ employee.

The Prime Minister however, assured Parliament that her Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran did not breach Cabinet rules when she met Carol Hirschfeld: “The Minister, in holding this meeting, was not acting in breach of the Cabinet Manual.”

As a result of that statement, Jacinda Ardern is now misleading Parliament.

In his commentary David Farrar raises other important concerns:

“Radio NZ is meant to be editorially independent. Having the news director in private secret meetings with the Minister is a huge conflict of interest. Especially with the Minister saying they want to give Radio NZ an extra $30 million a year. As no officials were present, who knows what assurances may have been sought or given about what Radio NZ would do in return for the money.”

Media independence is of crucial importance to the proper functioning of a free democracy. Any hint of secret deals involving Government Ministers is improper. It appears that Clare Curran is in breach of that protocol as well.

While Jacinda Ardern would not want to sack a minister just five months into her new Government, going soft on Clare Curran has made her look weak – yet again.

 It seems the Prime Minister is also struggling with policy decisions.  With increasing regularity, issues that she once stood firm on, are being  deferred to ad hoc review panels. Clearly she wants them to make controversial decision, so she does not need to. But running away from accountability is no way to run a country – it inevitably creates a vacuum that others will fill.

In some areas, where the Government has appeared decisive, their decisions are now being questioned. This is the case with their hastily drafted Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which submitters are overwhelmingly saying will be an absolute disaster for the country.

In other cases, the Prime Minister has been decisive in front of supporters, only to later change her mind. This was the situation over oil and gas exploration – she told a Greenpeace rally on the steps of Parliament that her Government was “actively considering” a call to end oil and gas exploration, only to later explain to Parliament that exploration is set to continue until at least 2046.

Reality is setting in for the new coalition government. It’s a tenuous alliance at best. To survive, it requires strong leadership and the certainty of knowing who is really running the country – but is it the PM? 


Who do you believe wields the most influence in the new coalition: Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Winston Peters, or Shane Jones? 


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


Lets count the broken promises! It is unable to make the decisions it was elected to make – the crisises are still with us! Frederick
No doubt at all that Peters is in charge. Past time he resigned. Meg
Jacinda is naive to the extreme and has no idea how to govern or manage her own parliamentarians , let alone her parliamentarians that are supposed to support her Government – it is all a very expensive joke locally and internationally. Charles
His comments are usually right on the button, and his stand on air flights to the regions is to be applauded. Alan
Lousy selection. Nobody is in control. Roger
Winston of Course. He is a cunning and devious person who is determined person who stop at very little to get his way Colin
It is hard to say, I think Grant Robertson and Winston Peters are close but they are the more prominent. You don’t hear as much of David Parker. Jacinda Ardern is Prime Minister and may still have the most influence but this will erode fast if she does not find her feet. Pieter
None of them are really bright enough to run anything least of all NZ Barry
More likely everyone rather than Jacinda.  Sandra
I’ll bet it;s Winston, he can’t stand anyone in front of him. And I can’t forget him siding with Jacinda then dropping his bottom line of holding a referendum on the Maori seats! Eric
Probably Winston but he has been very quite on the media front since going to ground after the government was sworn in. Rex
Words fail me! Jim
I don’t think the Left hand knows what the Right hand is doing. No Idea who is running the Circus!. Don
Compared with the ‘do nothing”Clayton’s leadership of the National lot Jacinda has been brilliant. Note all those Nat rats are leaving the ship they messed up. Don
When Winston isn’t kickng up about something,. he is usually getting his own way and at the moment, I think, is manipulating thkngs behind the scfnes. Josephine
I do not agree with your adverse comments and believe Jacinda is doing a good job. National has let us down with a lack of investment in many ways over their last terms and it will take a while to repair this. I believe you should be more patient – it is early days! Peter
A pregnant woman has no place in the Prime Ministerial job especially not the fragile Tooth Fairy communist type we have at the moment. She has never led a major political party beforehand, has never had a real job and has no leadership skills so therefore she should have turned the PM job down; she may never return from mat. leave. As Winston Peters is going to be the 41st PM, he has manipulated and made a sick joke of the whole Government process in this country. Monica
They are all incompetent . This a government I think will implode before the end of its term in office. Tom
The wisest head Jim
No doubt Peters as he is the key to the present Gov staying in power.As he currently tries to create a statesman like image as he leads toward his temporary PM stint he will always remain an untrustworthy loose cannon .Jacindamania is now just Jacindavacuum but she will hold her office for the term because Peters enjoys the baubles of office so much.In 2 yrs and 5 months both will be gone and not very well remembered  Don 
Behind the scenes Peters is a wrecking ball. Murray
Feels he should have been PM Wendy
They used Jacinda to get into power now its time to put the one the left want in power Roy
Peters is the architect of NZs discontent. Evidence is NZs has seen nothing yet. What a disaster the Coalition of Corruption and Chaos. Of course matches the track record of Peters a forty year veteran of NZ Politics. Tony
This farcical MMP system is corrupt. What other democracy in the world is being run by a bunch of nitwits who are largely unelected list MPs. The sooner we revert to FPP, the sooner we will get quality MPs. This lot of ‘tax and spend’ nut jobs will bankrupt NZ if they aren’t got rid of. And as for those greenies…..???? Carolyn
I cannot help it but I feel a great deal of Schadenfreude in regards to this. WP is after all the slyest fox of them all and I must admire him for his sharp sense of the weaknesses of his opponents. ( ie JA) Ardern has the political profile of a wet sock and JS of the Green( snot) Party is nothing but a political glove puppet with permanent residence in LALA Land.A unknown factor is Shane Jones. He certainly has all the hallmarks of a political bully ( a reincarnation of Maldoon maybe??) and I consider him to be volatile and a bit dangerous. Robertson and Parker will do everything to keep this coalition with NZF under Peters stabil to maintain their positions. As far a JA is concerned— My gut feeling is that she will bow out to be a mum. Politics and breast feeding does not mix. Michael
No Body Geoff
Read the ‘secret’ agreement between the three political leaders. David Seymor has a copy! Barry
Who knows who is the king pin? Quite honestly, I have not been that interested in following the fiasco. Neil
He is a devious man with a huge chip on his shoulder. He is the biggest threat to agriculture in this country. Willy
It is not Adern – she is a weak link and can’t make the hard decisions. Peters will really show his true colours come june Kerry
Presently everything I am hearing from this coalition is causing me to hope they crash and burn before this year ends,  Neil
Winston who? The invisible man! I ticked Shane Jones only because he has been the most vocal, but really none of them. What a dogs breakfast.  Toni
Where is wally these days ? Graham
David Parker as he has been power hungry all his political life. Likes to work in the background and pull the strings or levers of power Ray
It is difficult to know? Gerald
They are all just fumbling along especially the “kindegarten” PM with no real leadership, but Shane Jones appears to creating the most controversy. Frank
We really have a tight five doing the donkey work as they see fit. There does not appear to be workable plan to to run the country for the financial benefit of the population. The election manifesto appears to be disregarded and our Prime Minister only seems to be the mouthpiece when feel good news is to be announced. Politics and politicians have lst their way. Dennis
Not sure influence is the right word. Rudders don’t work by influence. Ships take firm hands to hold the tiller and decide on when to tack into calmer waters. Edwin
They are all a bunch of wankers and none of them fit to run the country Clark
We voted him out and now he is number 1. How’s that for democracy?? Don
He didn’t negotiate to be 2nd in “command” to not have a major say in the coalition. Peter
Porno Jones the new Mr Fix it, billions of trees fame seems to be getting lots of exposure!!!!! Wayne
Definitely Winston. Carol
Winstone Peters, pretty obvious!! June
Tosser! Murray
WEll,I chose Shane but had either Helen Clark or H 2 been on the list it would have been them. Vernon 
I don’t beleive any of them have any influence they have all gone week at the knees Russell
David Parker could be the dark horse. Helen
It was very obvious from the start that Ardern was not up to the job, and never would be. She has been manipulated and devalued by a master of manipulation, and either can’t see it, or can’t see a way out of it. She has become a laughing stock, and is taking the country down with her because of her inflated sense of self-importance. TOBY
Probably Winston Peters because he already exercised his clout to get this odd government into power. Paul
Winston is a crafty and well experienced destroyer of reputations. Jacinda somehow needs to put the brakes on Mr. Peters if she wishes to survive. John
With out a doubt! Sue
Because the PM is not showing effective leadership others are making decisions, often for their own portfolios or agendas Laurence
Believe it may be WP but who would know. What is more alarming is that JA is not in control as she should. The lack of confidence, leadership and amateurism the Government is projecting is doing nothing to lift the spirits and daily security that all is safe and well. The so called electoral system we are supposed to believe in has let us down allowing a party with 7% to pull the rug from under us. The intelligence and experience of those listed leaves little confidence that the three headed monster is working for the Benefit all New Zealander,s equally before their own agendas. Very Worried about the economic future. will we be able to pay the bills as tax after tax increase eats into our daily costs and restricts our ability to use our cars and freedoms. Sam
Winny does, based on his experience and the naivety of the others mentioned!! Tony
Has to be if Ardern is a credible politician. If Peters has limited power, then you would have to question whether Ardern is a suitable PM. James
He’s got the nous to know how to achieve results and how to leave egg on others faces. ROB
We think that it is a ship that will be like the Titanic, need we say more Tony
Jacinda is definitely out of her depth and the old warhorse is waiting in the wings. Kevin
I fear for N.Z. when our WEAK PM is away, Winston is TOO much willing to give Russia ANYTHING. Cindy
None of the named! But will have to pick one to vote so Parker, it is. All very predictable, a shambles from the outset. No suprise the Comrade Clark creature hovering in the background. All of them about as much use as a lifeboat with a hole in it with personalities of a foghorn !! David
She is the best looking Daniel
He seems to be the only one we hear from in regard to decision but even they are few and far between. Certainly not Winston Peters the deputy PM. He is conspicuous by his absence. Pity help this country as I think we are going to move backwards fast Laraine
Could be any one of them at different times actually. Andrew
Just a guess Warren
Guess John
Grant Robertson, and unfortunately, he is at the same level of naivety as Jacinda. maybe we should all pray more, or sing the National anthem in English only.  Frank
I would suggest NO ONE is they are a LOST SHIP SINKING…. Carl
Who else? Ian
Wait until Jacinda goes on maternity leave. That’s when the fun will start. Maurice
Winston was not elected by the people of NZ and he is now in a bad mood and will take his annoyance out on the people of NZ. His new association with the communist world will be detrimental to the progress of this country. Can he be disestablished as a politician. Allan
Why is this situation / fiasco NOT a surprise. James
It’s a very predictable disaster. Ronmac
I have little evidence to back-up my choice but he has always been a dominating influence in his sphere of influence. Cyril
Very interesting times ahead !!!!!! Ross
Experience is the key. Peter
Not one of them know what they are doing David
It was always the aim of the political turncoat that he has proved to be. Fred
Women do not wear pants  Pierre
However I believe the Greens are having far too much say in promoting their crazy policies. Alan
Peters is the instigator of this illegitimate government. Richard
Helen Clark is the puppeteer Derek
Jacinda run by Helen Clark Lenise
Winston behind the scenes is pulling the strings with the support of Shane Jones The whole structure is a joke and Jacinda will not last the distance. Ken
He will be acting PM in Jacinda’s absence. John
Experienced and cunning. Norm
Winni the woo, all of the others are labour and greenie nutters having Pipe dreams of grandure. Hope we can oust this lot asap. God saveNZ. James
He’s a wily old fox who cannot be trusted. Just look at his election promises. Chris
I’m not sure that anyone of them is effectively leading anything – Winston is not to be trusted and anything that is good for Winston is good for everyone; Grant Robertson seems bent in finding new ways to impose more taxes under any name that doesn’t use the word tax; Shane Jones is the Grand Stander that he has always been and a leopard doesn’t change its spots; David Parker is an advocate of man is aggravating the global climate despite evidence the alarmists are using falsified data to support their “scientific” claims; Jacinda ever faithful to her international socialist (Communist) roots and only seems comfortable in talking about handshakes, who is thinking she is a wife of somebody, dismissing the knowledge and achievements of the “older” generation [though this does not seem to extend to her caucus who are no different to those present under the previous Labour Parliamentary Leader – A plague on all their houses! Michael
Ambition will cause small people to ride on the string of the stronger. John
Winnie’s got what he wanted at all costs – prime minister by default and when Jacindarella finally disintegrates in a cloud of fairy dust he’ll rule the roost 100% Roy
As deputy he seems frustrated at not being in charge. It’s the tail wagging the dog. Graeme
It is why Winston went with Labour. Darryl
Winston Peters with probably imput from David Parkerand a few others in Labour. Jacinda is little more than a figurehead and has always been just that. She is hopeless! Roger
So far but deminishing David
Whether for one event or more Shane appears to have the most air time. Does the media itself decide the person with the most influence? Does that come from the person most willing to give the media close access? Charlotte
Winston never had any intention to go with National. He was seeking revenge. Also he hoped that Jacinda would need him more and his opotunity to be leader (and his last chance) was best served by goingwith Labour. Kathleen
What a pathetic group but David Parker is probably is pulling the strings behind the scenes Tom
No political party gets my consideration to cast a vote in the future until we reinstall First Past the Post. Don
He knows how to manipulate people to his own advantage Cliff
Parker has the best grip on reality, performs consistently and stands closest to the nation’s best interests also he has less connections with the B.S. which taints the others. Adern is completely out of her depth, Peters untrustworthy, Jones has risen to his peak already Chris
Winston is the only one with bottle. Look at the others backgrounds, what a bunch of wishy washy pathetics! It says an awful lot about the NZ voters maturity and intelligence! Rex
He holds the purse not her. Mike
Winston the puppet master? Mark
Slippery Winnie, by a mile. A scenario which is panning out to be most unfortunate, for NZ… John
Shane Jones is undoubtedly the loudest and most uncaring of how he gets public awareness of his opinions but Winston Peters has always led from behind. Jacinda would do well to give him complete control and ignore the fanatical greens. Liz
Bring back National, we need another election now before this country goes bankrupt !! Simon
If he goes, they ain’t got a Coalition…. Ross
..total bloody shambles ” the blind leading the blind ” down a road of despair and taxing New Zealanders out of existence…total rout plus corruption.. CHowes
Peters always knew that Ardern would be a weak vessel, which is why NZF went with Labour. At any time, he could pull support for Labour, and they recognise that. Just wait until Ardern disappears on maternity leave: what a shambles! Graham
At the moment the Govt is subject to the capricious whims of the electorate, or more accurately, whatever the Govt believes the electorate wants. JA and her party are floundering and ambitious members of the Labour Party & NZ First, use whatever convenient issue they can to further their personal careers. In essence the Govt is tottering, not that the NP has shown any real leadership either. The situation for them is different. They have to repair the damage of austerity and belt tightening policies of the last government. JK & BE went a step too far with their determination to bring the Govt’s finances back to surplus. Lindsay
Winston is just waiting in the wings, come 12 June he will achieve his dream, Prime Minister, what a stupid parliamentary system we have. Robert
Difficult question as they all having problems agreeing – a disastrous government he%u2019ll bent on a climate change philosophy when they haven%u2019t a clue as to the basic causes is possible climate change. The policy of banning all new motorways is catastrophic for our economy – other enlightened countries do improve public transport but realize that a mamimum of 20% of people at any one time – mostly commuters 5 days a week use public transport – the remaining 80% use the roads – so the policy in other enlighten dcountries is to improve both public transport AND roading – including adequate motorways . The coalition plans will only increase traffic gridlock here – especially inAuckland- and is madness intge extreme -new petrol taxes to build a $4 billion trainline to the airport! Hylton 
He must be laughing his socks off. i just hope that we do not end up to be the joke of the world after the status that the country has had up until now! William
Regrettably the drunken dwarf seems to have too much influence Peter
The whole country is still held to ransom by Winston. Labour are terrified of upsetting his apple cart and the coalition disintegrating.  Geoff
Why don’t NZCPR highlight some of the good aspects of the coalition? Unfortunately they appear to have joined the mostly media BULLIES who are still throwing their toys out of the cot because they did not get their own way at the last election. Jennifer
Helen Clarke Phil
Wait ’til the 3rd year, when Peters will demand the COL’s promises (written in the secret-agreement document) be kept eg. Maori seperatism – Not! Paul
I say all but Ardern and very likely the most influence is from Helen Clark and other outside influences. Max
The coalition is a joke and what about no additional taxes not already announced we already pay enough in fuel tax if they spent it all on the roads we would not have a problem  Peter 
Difficult to assess as all – less Ardern – seem to wield power within and some in the public domain. What a sorry bunch they are – self-seeking bullies led in name only by a person who has “worked” solely for political entities – e.g. Socialist International. Any real political power is in the hands of Helen Clark and Heather Simpson co-jointly, or separately. Jones “owns” the chosen provinces – e.g Northland – by dint of handing out “development money”, aka political bribes. It will be of interest to see what happens when the slush fund dries up. Andrew
Winston First as usual. He should be done for treason. Chris
Certainly not Jacinda Graeme
Ardern and Co are pathetic Peters knew who to go with to control. Shocking  Jan
Actually, I suspect the most influential on what on events are the unions and all the other unseen, backroom people and groups claiming their pound of flesh. I certainly don’t think any of the ministers have a clue about the unintended consequences of their policies. Roll on the next election before they bankrupt NZ.  Gary
When Shane Jones joined NZF and Ron Mark was side lined my thoughts were that Winston was ready to give up the fight and with his outlook on the russian’s and Jacinda’s remarks making her look silly jones will rename NZF the maori party when he takes over in the very near future which will destroy NZ. Richard
Minister of everything and the only front-bencher with ANY prior experience Barry
All part of his plan to “finally” become Prime Minister – he knew he never could if English was PM. What a wonderful country we would live in if all political parties were banned – Independents Rule! Russell
The 4 men are probably viewing her as their “little sister” and she does not see it. Who knows maybe all 4 of them are meeting together to run the country. Martin
I agree with Winston and Jacinda’s comments regarding Russia. I really don’t think you covered this issue at all well. Peter
Winston Peters is running the show. That’s why he chose Labour. It’s his swansong before he quits politics. And he’ll even get to be Prime Minister.   Dan
New Zealand First are in charge, without a doubt. Francis
As soon as the media stopped promoting Jacinda Ardern, her naivity and inexperience became obvious. Parker and Robertson are covering for her all the time. Cameron
This government will not last. With Peters in charge, it will all come crashing down. Roger
The Greens are already throwing their toys out of the cot. The coalition is very unstable and Jacinda Ardern is no Helen Clark. Winnie must be rubbing his hands with glee about the power he now wields! Gordon