My immediate thought, with a recent softening in the polls, this could be the moment he grabs back the narrative and the lost voters; who see a leader showing real leadership making a (popular) executive decision. To me, it was a no-brainer. With Labour wallowing around in the mud, what better time to take the moral high ground?
Thousands of New Zealanders who paid $330,000 through the nose for Mallard’s murky rape accusation litigation and consider him a bully are against the diplomatic appointment of this divisive character who in a May Kantar poll had only a 17% performance rating.
This could have been a win-win; a great headline, with National having the final say, taking a stand on this unpopular posting which rewards Mallard’s bad behaviour.
As it turned out, Dr Sharma had the final say on Mallard’s infamous reputation when he recounted his own personal experience under privilege in the House whilst welcoming the new Speaker, Adrian Rurawhe. He was then soundly shut down.
Slick and cynical, after Dr Sharma was allegedly bullied out of his job, Ardern announced that unpopular Mallard would be rewarded for his bullying reputation with a plum diplomatic role in Dublin. What does the man have on our honest and transparent PM?
The optics are so bad. The ground was fertile for National to upstage the government, but Luxon missed the boat.
The media’s condemnation of all of this has been lukewarm. Early on they joined Ardern’s bullying, cheerleading team against Sharma and now most are flailing about trying to defend Mallard’s appointment! Some giving him soft interviews about his new plum role!
Like Ardern they believe having a rap sheet as long as your arm is no reason why their people should not still get the plum jobs, despite having pronounced Sam Ufindell’s career over due to revelations of his youthful poor behaviour.
If due to lack of evidence from the investigation Ufindell stays, I defy Labour politicians and the media to cast judgement given their appalling defence of the retiring thug.
However I won’t be holding my breath. Hypocrisy is strong with the left: their get-out-of-jail-free card, it is used selectively to protect their own.
Even more reason therefore for National to come out strong and take the moral high ground against this appointment.
National has been on former Speaker Trevor Mallard’s case for a number of years, and for good reason; he has been one of the most biased speakers in memory. They have unsuccessfully lodged motions of no confidence against him in the House. Essentially they have been at war with him.
Already, likeable, mild-mannered new Speaker Adrian Rurawhe has indicated there will be more fairness and less verbosity from Labour’s patsy questions or there will be consequences. You could almost hear the sigh of relief from the beleaguered National party and miraculously Labour MPs slipped into line like good school children on Rurawhe’s first day.
But having made disparaging remarks, along with his MPs, about Mallard’s absurd diplomatic posting, Luxon said he had no plans to recall him.
Luxon does not have the courage of his convictions; he cannot follow up his party’s strongly expressed opposition to the man, with action. Probably afraid to push back against the biased, bullying media.
David Seymour has been even more scathing about the appointment so I also challenge him to make the recall decision… now. He is one politician whom I admire for his courage, like Dr Sharma, to act out of principle, not fear.
It is an obvious decision, with the man’s rap sheet a mile long; he is not suited to the job and would be damaging to a National government brand. He is not a diplomat’s big toenail. Surely a National government would want a career diplomat, or an unblemished retiring politician in the role, n’est-ce pas? Someone they could trust would not get caught up in a bar room brawl?
As a New Zealand citizen, I am disgusted at this appointment and would expect a new National government to make an immediate recall. So why not announce it now and make political capital out of Ardern’s shady decision?
New Zealanders and the Opposition are being bullied by the Labour government and its publicly funded propaganda machine. Next year Luxon will be up against a born actress with massive (misguided) self-belief; a slick spin doctor who, according to the polls, can successfully persuade a naïve public that her corrupt legislation is sound governance. He needs to grow a spine.
With plenty of unflattering information already circulating in Ireland about Mallard, a promised future recall would add to the mix in the Irish media and hang over Mallard’s head. What a delectable thought. This would have been an easy win, a great headline and National stamping its mark on the whole sorry affair.
Luxon must remember, that the media are not his friend. Their role thus far has been to publish vicious cartoons about him and misinterpret his comments. He is a conservative, and therefore the enemy. He must make his own positive publicity as the media are not going to do him any favours whilst under Ardern’s spell. He needs to stand up to their bullying.
National, under Luxon, are making great inroads with new policy and prosecuting this Government over its appalling record on public services; their promise to forensically audit the books and cut out wasteful spending is much welcomed.
However, Luxon’s line about not being a career politician is losing traction. He needs to start recognising opportunities and make political capital when the Labour Government’s dirty politics hands him one on a plate.
Wendy Geus is a former speechwriter and generalist communications advisor in local government. She now writes for the pure love of it. This article was published HERE