When l finally got to read the deliberately delayed Simpson report of the Government’s handling of the pandemic, l could understand why it wasn’t released until well after the general election.
Even the most loyal Labour supporter would have to admit it paints a very different picture of the Prime Minister and her bunch of sycophants than the one available to voters of this mythical “Mother Teresa” when they entered the ballot boxes last year.
The report in fact shows her to be the “Empress with no clothes” .
As Richard Prebble rightly suggests - the spin doctors have had a field day producing this saint like figure, the guardian of the nation’s soul.
At the time of her rapid rise to leadership of the Labour Party, l opined that she lacked the experience and character required to lead a nation in troubled economic times.
I was not reckoning on Winston Peters becoming ‘ King Maker’ or the series of national crisis’s that no one would have predicted - The Christchurch Mosque Massacre, the White Island tragedy or the Corona Virus pandemic that have temporarily pushed economic management to the bottom of government’s priority list.
For the Prime Minister, in purely political terms, these events could not have come at a better time.
She has been able to survive and flourish in a climate that lends itself to the one political skill she has and has demonstrated better than any other leader of this country since Michael Joseph Savage who operated best in similar conditions that required empathetic leadership. To be fair, Jacinda Ardern deserves credit for her leadership during these traumatic times but her communications skills will not save her when the chickens come home to roost and her government’s paucity of economic management abilities will become ‘up front and personal’, exposing it’s capture by the Green, Maori and LGBT sectors of the party.
It is worth remembering that while the pandemic dominated every lead item of the daily news, a compliant media refused to assess or critically examine the damage to our economy as a result of the government's spending like there was no tomorrow.
The Simpson report highlights the failure to adequately address incompetent oversight of areas where we could have done things differently and avoided much of the mountain of debt we have imposed on future generations or the destruction of large parts of the tourism industry.
Here on the East Coast, like in many other provincial regions of the Country, the gloves are off and we are seeing the flexing of Maori authority in every aspect of community activity. We are racing against time trying to use the last opportunity to push back against the inevitable tide of Maori self determination before the Government deletes the offending clause from legislation that allows majorities to exercise their democratic rights to have a say in our future. Even if we win in referendums to overturn Council decisions to introduce Maori wards, the victory will be short lived. In six years time, this opportunity will no longer be available and we will have them imposed by order in Council.
That folks will signal the end of democracy as we know it.
Ownership of our fresh water reserves and perhaps even the foreshore fish stocks are likely to be next on the agenda. And the Government will do nothing to stop it happening - see their about face on the Ihumatao settlement process if you need convincing.
As one who has spent the last 40 years working to try and improve the lives of those living in these low decile communities, it is sad to see what we have become.
It could have and should have been so different.
As with the nation’s prospects as a whole - we will reap what we sow.
The one element that has sustained these communities during the last 200 years (ie TRUST) is the one that is missing in almost every endeavour these days.
And no amount of ‘walking on water’ or shedding tears as the nation mourns will restore that feature which has been the cornerstone of a society we could all be proud of.
Sadly the mould is broken.
Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.