Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Dunne Speaks: Who is Really Pulling the Government's Strings

Dunne Speaks: Who is Really Pulling the Government's Strings

When a few months ago New Zealand First abruptly vetoed Labour’s plans to repeal the three strikes criminal justice law it was glibly explained away by Labour as just a breakdown in communication that would be resolved by the time a policy paper came anywhere near the Cabinet for consideration. With the Criminal Justice Summit then looming, and clearly more water yet to flow under the bridge, the explanation had a brief air of credibility about it, so was largely believed, and everyone moved on.

However, it will be a little more difficult to treat this week’s equally blunt dismissal by the Deputy Prime Minister of Labour’s long held plans to double the refugee quota in quite the same vein. All the more so, given the Deputy Prime Minister’s accompanying chilling observation that “Labour is not the government.” This would have been news to many people who thought we had a Labour-led coalition government with New Zealand First, and supported by the Greens.


Certainly the comments were intended to play to New Zealand First’s racist constituency that does not like either migrants or refugees and definitely does not want to see any more of them. But they were also sending a none too veiled reminder to Labour that this government survives neither because of the gushing charm of its leader, nor the self-imagined talent of its Ministers, nor the will of the public, but simply and solely at the pleasure of New Zealand First and its leader. Labour has been placed on clear public notice that it needs to toe the New Zealand First line to remain in office. The Prime Minister’s muted response shows she understands her predicament all too well, and will bow to it, because she has no other option.




While this was always seen as a potential risk for this coalition government, given its make-up, Labour had earlier believed that during the period of the Prime Minister’s maternity leave, their Ministers would be able to straightjacket the Deputy Prime Minister, to preserve the fiction this government was Labour-led, but he was too wily for that to ever have been a possibility. This was his opportunity to put his stamp clearly on the government, and he was not going to be denied. He easily outwitted his Labour colleagues and used his considerably greater experience to perform better than most had expected he would as Acting Prime Minister, and bring an air of stability to a government that has looked somewhat chaotic before and since. In so doing, he enhanced considerably his stature within the government, as well as increasing New Zealand First's dominance of it, leaving Labour between a rock and a hard place.


By the time the Prime Minister returned to duty, the die was firmly caste, and the government had to all intents and purposes become a New Zealand First/Labour coalition. Nothing has happened to reverse that over the last few weeks, and the Prime Minister’s travails with her own Ministers in the last couple of weeks have reinforced the new dynamic.


Against that backdrop, the refugee put down this week is a ruthless assertion to the public of where the power really lies in this government and who will be calling the shots for the remainder of its term. The Prime Minister's awkward balancing act from here on is to continue to appear enthusiastic and aspirational, while at the end of her Deputy's string, and only allowed to implement the policies he mandates. How long the now marginalised public tolerates that becomes an open question.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

PM Announces Royal Commission Into Christchurch Attacks

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that there will be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into security agencies following the Christchurch terrorist attacks... The inquiry will look at what could or should have been done to prevent the attack, Ms Ardern said. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Ridding The Net Of White Supremacist Propaganda

Although it won’t be a walk in the park, gun law reform will be an easier job than neutralising the Internet hate content that (a) recruited the Christchurch shooter, and (b) confirmed him in his beliefs. More>>

Friday: National Remembrance Service

A National Remembrance Service for the victims of the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack, and all those affected by it, will be held at 10am on Friday 29 March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced. More>>

SCOOP COVERAGE: CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERROR ATTACK
For the Latest: Scoop Search - Christchurch
 

Gordon Campbell: On The School Climate Strike

Locally, the school strike has won a ton of support for bringing climate change to the fore. Yet the strikers don't want mere expressions of support. They want action. More>>

ALSO:

"Grabbed And Struck In The Face": Greens Co-Leader Attacked While Walking To Work

Green Party co-leader James Shaw was the victim of an unprovoked attack when he was walking to work in Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

████████ ████ ███: Latest OIA Statistics Released

The latest statistics cover 110 agencies that collectively completed 18,106 official information requests between July and December 2018, a 16.4% increase on the 15,551 requests for the previous six months. More>>

ALSO:

'Hit And Run' Inquiry: New Legal Action Over Secrecy

The lawyer representing the Afghan villagers in the inquiry into Operation Burnham has launched legal proceedings calling for a judicial review in the investigation. More>>

ALSO:

From Hydro Plan To...: Mokihinui River Land To Join Kahurangi National Park

A total of 64,400 hectares of conservation land in the Mokihinui River catchment on the West Coast north of Westport, including 15 km of riverbed, is being added to Kahurangi National Park. “Adding this area, roughly half the size of Auckland City, to Kahurangi is the largest addition of land to an existing national park in New Zealand’s history,” Eugenie Sage said. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels