HEATHER du PLESSIS-AL­LAN

Herald on Sunday - - REVIEW - Heather du Plessis-Al­lan u@HDPA

Well, that didn’t take long. Two weeks and the paint has started to chip off the new Gov­ern­ment. Af­ter a cou­ple of mo­ments of ques­tion­able truth­ful­ness over the last week, the new mob are start­ing to look a lot more like the last lot, where truth­ful­ness wasn’t a high pri­or­ity.

The most au­da­cious bout of Labour’s truth-bend­ing came on the first day of Par­lia­ment this week when the king of all lo­gis­ti­cal cock-ups played out. The drama prob­a­bly gen­er­ated flur­ries of “WTF” texts be­tween po­lit­i­cal nerds, but it’s pretty es­o­teric to the rest of us, so I’ll just give you bul­let points.

Labour and Na­tional started the day fight­ing the world’s dullest bat­tle over Se­lect Com­mit­tee num­bers. Labour had the swag­ger of power, telling Na­tional exactly how things were go­ing to be. By mid-af­ter­noon, Na­tional had won. Labour struck a deal giv­ing in to Na­tional be­cause it had ballsed up the vote to get Trevor Mal­lard into the Speaker’s job.

That was a pretty big em­bar­rass­ment on the very first day of Par­lia­ment. It was maybe pre­dictable and prob­a­bly for­giv­able given the mas­sive group of MPs Labour’s whips are try­ing to cor­ral. But what wasn’t for­giv­able was then telling us the whole thing went swim­mingly and, ac­tu­ally, the deal was struck just to be de­cent. Re­ally?

Any­one who has gone through the tor­ture of buy­ing a house, ne­go­ti­at­ing a pay in­crease or grudg­ingly telling the dairy owner he can keep the change knows you never give up more than you have to.

It’s not a sur­prise Labour tried to paint the school­boy er­ror in a bet­ter light. The al­ter­na­tive is look­ing un­pre­pared for the ba­sics of gov­ern­ment.

But what is sur­pris­ing is that in­stead of opt­ing for a plau­si­ble half truth, it threw it­self head­first into a story no one would be­lieve. That’s ei­ther am­a­teur or ar­ro­gant.

And that PR fail came only one day af­ter an­other case of spin­ning.

When an­nounc­ing paid parental leave would ex­tend from 18 to 22 weeks, Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern made a point of rub­bing in how stingy we Ki­wis are. When it comes to ma­ter­nity leave, she told us we have “one of the low­est in the OECD where the av­er­age is 48 weeks”.

Wait, what? Forty eight weeks is nearly three times what ours was! How did we get to be such mum-haters?

We’re not.

The OECD av­er­age is re­ally 17.7 weeks, which means we’re do­ing okay in­ter­na­tion­ally. Labour had to jump through sev­eral sta­tis­ti­cal hoops and lump all sorts of lesser forms of ma­ter­nal care into one bas­ket to con­coct that un­fair com­par­i­son.

Spin from a Gov­ern­ment is no new thing. We’d be naive to ex­pect any­thing less. But some­times we are naive when we see bright new shiny things, es­pe­cially when those bright new shiny things are try­ing so darned hard to show how dif­fer­ent they are to the last lot.

But when you see spin in one place, you start to see it every­where.

For ex­am­ple, it’s an in­ter­est­ing ex­er­cise to com­pare this left-wing Gov­ern­ment with Justin Trudeau’s left-wing Cana­dian Gov­ern­ment. Where Ardern is “re­lent­lessly pos­i­tive”, Trudeau talks of his “sunny ways”.

Ardern says “we can do bet­ter”. Trudeau says “we can do bet­ter”.

Ardern’s Cabi­net ar­rived in a bus at the Gov­ern­ment swear­ing in. Trudeau’s Cabi­net got dropped off by bus, too.

All those things look hol­low when you re­alise there’s a play­book.

When you lift the bon­net, it’s all the same un­der­neath. Politi­cians will be politi­cians will be politi­cians. They’re not al­ways go­ing to be up front with us. They are go­ing to spin.

The trou­ble for this lot is that two weeks into a three-year term is very early to have us ques­tion­ing their hon­esty.

Two weeks into a three year term is very early to have us ques­tion­ing the party’s hon­esty

Mark Mitchell

At its swear­ing in, the Gov­ern­ment was glow­ing, but spin is al­ready kick­ing in.

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