Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is well known for her compassion and warmth towards minority groups. Nowhere has that been more on display that in dealing with children and minorities such as the Muslim community after the Christchurch attacks. That warmth has been the subject of derision by the Opposition who have said that it detracts from her job as a Prime Minister, and that in a real crisis she would not be able to show leadership.
But with COVID19 starting to batter New Zealand, the very leadership that the Opposition said she could not show is coming out in spades. The very members of the business community who were losing confidence and wondering what the Government would do about this have been given a very clear answer. This afternoon a massive fiscal stimulus aimed at protecting the economy and our most vulnerable from COVID19 was announced. The stimulus aimed at all of the right targets:
- $5.1 billion will go towards keeping people in work
- $2.8 billion will go towards helping businesses counter some of the regulatory costs
- $500 million will go towards health to support countering COVID19 directly
That is $8.4 billion right there. In the sense of the New Zealand G.D.P. that is about 4%.
But that is not all. In order to assist the vulnerable, beneficiaries and superannuitants will also receive financial assistance. $25/per week or $1,300 per annum more will be made available to beneficiaries via their main benefits. In addition there will be assistance for winter heating, where single people will get a $900 top up and couples will get a $1400 top up.
At the other end of the scale, was Simon Bridges. Unable and/or unwilling to admit he and National have been completely outfoxed by the Government, he looked for a scape goat. As detuned from political reality as ever, Mr Bridges has been absolutely eviscerated for his brutal unprovoked attack on the welfare beneficiaries of New Zealand, in what was meant to be the National Party’s response to the Government’s massive fiscal stimulus.
If I were a National Party member at the moment, I would be scared stiff. Scared because my leader has been thoroughly outsmarted by a Prime Minister who has shown that not only can she do compassion in spades, she can lead as well. Thoroughly outsmarted because a package to help both the vulnerable and the business community has been worked out and almost uniformly applauded by the very people who would normally be backing National.
Ms Ardern and her Labour Party are going to win this election at this rate on her performance on COVID19 alone. I am not saying this as a Labour supporter, but as someone who has seen the Leader of the Opposition time and again showing no understanding of the situation around him, getting an absolute thrashing. In a time when New Zealand needs steely leadership, Ms Ardern is showing it in bucket loads. In a time when we need a confident reassuring leader who has a plan and is not showing signs of panic, Ms Ardern is delivering.
Delivering Mr Bridges’ Prime Ministerial aspirations a potentially lethal blow.