Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Heather du Plessis-Allan: We've reached the end of a crazy political year


Today we are bringing you this show from Parliament.

It’s the last sitting day of Parliament before the House wraps up for the year.

Which means it’s not a bad time to reflect back on the political year, and what to expect next year.

Looking back now, it feels like there are two parts to the last year, even to the last term of government: before Covid and after Covid.

Nothing from before Covid really counts any more, does it?

KiwiBuild, Clare Curran, light rail, Jami-Lee Ross, the Prime Minister pretending she didn’t know one of her staffers was facing assault allegations.

None of that stuff counts for much now when you compare it to the disruption Covid has caused the world.

Through it’s sheer scale, Covid has really put everything into context as being much less important.

And that explains i guess why we had one of the worst-performing governments in our lifetimes returned with an historic majority in this election. Because it doesn’t really matter that this government failed to do much of anything before Covid, because when Covid arrived, it did the right things to keep the country safe.

If you’d said to me at the start of this pandemic that we would be sitting here in December with our borders closed to everyone, I wouldn’t have believed it.

But now it’s becoming obvious that this is how its’ going to be for a while. Covid will continue to dominate our politics next year too.

Next year we’ll be vaccinating some, but not all of the country. The borders will still be closed to most of the world.  Fingers crossed we might be open to Australia before mid-year.

We will still be contact tracing and dealing with outbreaks and putting people into managed isolation when they arrive in the country.

I don’t know how long this will go on for. Not even the politicians really do. It’s probably going to go on for quite a few years.

Next year we need to shift gears in our politicsWe need to move from rewarding the government for stopping things, to insisting that they get on with starting things up again.

They’ve had their reward. They are the first majority government under MMP. Their duty now, for us and the future of this country, is to get on with the economic rebuild.  

Let’s get travel to Australia going, let’s get the necessary workers into the country, let’s get some of those vaccines arriving in New Zealand.

That will be the challenge for next year. For now, who isn’t looking forward to a bit of a break from the politicians? They’re probably looking forward to a break from us to be honest.

So, here’s to a welcome end of a crazy political year.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.

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