Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Barry Soper – Labour looks rattled and PMs under pressure


This Government is running out of fingers to plug the holes in the dyke.

Observe the body language of the Prime Minister and it’s obvious to me at least the pressure she’s under. She was fidgeting with her face mask to such an extent in Parliament’s debating chamber yesterday that the audio had static.

It’s as though the stable door’s been ripped off its hinges and the horse is nowhere in sight. Everyone’s being caught by surprise, with the Government being about as transparent as a brick wall.

Take the past 24 hours for example.

No doubt reeling from the latest One News-Colmar Brunton opinion poll, where Labour’s
ratings have shed 10 per cent in less than a year, even though it remains on a relatively respectable 43 per cent, it won’t be happy.

The Covid cushion is losing its stuffing. Lockdowns usually sees the party getting a sympathetic bump in the polls from a frightened, insecure public. But with one death in 1185 cases in the current outbreak, it isn’t creating the climate of fear that they’ve relied on.

So, they’ve moved into overdrive to take our minds off the recovery road.

Interest deductibility for property investors, announced without detail last March, has suddenly got the detail and it’ll be in place from Friday – no more tax relief there.

No sooner had they dealt with that, they dropped another bombshell, again in the property arena, with commercial property owners being left punch drunk with Justice Minister Kris Faafoi putting in some time at the office and announcing leases were being changed.

Faafoi, who doesn’t have a legal bone in his body, is making changes to property law, inserting a clause allowing a tenant to pay a “fair proportion” of their rent where Covid has impacted on their business. It avoids the Government having to step up to compensate the struggling tenants.

And that, without any consultation with the landlords, came into effect last night! They tried to do it last year but the man who is made up in equal parts of legal and political bones, Winston Peters, stopped them doing it. He rightly argued the sanctity of contract law but when you have an outright majority, as Labour has, they can do what they like.

In the coming days they’ll be at it again. Nanaia Mahuta’s taking the axe to the Three Waters law, where 67 local body councils own the infrastructure that ratepayers have paid for over many years, which will be claimed and turned into four bureaucratic behemoths.

There are only a handful of councils that agree with the change. The majority it seems to me see it as theft. But the Local Government Minister’s shown opposition is of no consequence – remember the Māori electoral wards that are now part of the makeup with all objection being legislated away.

And the brick wall transparency was again at play by the end of the day. Trade Minister Damien O’Connor’s off overseas again this week, this time to the United States and to Europe. Few would argue with a minister travelling to promote New Zealand’s wares, but you can argue with the way we found out.

The news of his trip was tweeted by the United States’ charge d’affaires Kevin Covert.MIQ spaces will be awaiting his return, no need for a lottery there.

Expect Jacinda Ardern to head off overseas in November as well. A tip-off to the up-coming travel was checked out with her office with a spokesperson saying “no travel has been confirmed and would be dependent on the domestic situation with Covid.”

They’re political weasel words which we have to listen to daily. Ardern will be hoping the dyke will withstand the pressure between now and then.

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