Audrey Young: Was this Prime Minister Jacinda Arderns worst day this term?

As we say goodbye to 2021 and welcome in 2022, it’s a good time to catch up on the very best of the Herald columnists we enjoyed reading over the last 12 months. From politics to sport, from business to entertainment and lifestyle, these are the voices and views our audience loved the most. Today it’s the top five from Audrey Young.

Close to Jacinda Ardern's worst day this term – August 11

It could easily have been Jacinda Ardern’s worst day as PM, at least of her second term.

On top of power blackouts in the middle of winter for thousands of Kiwi homes, we could so easily have had Delta silently infecting Tauranga at the start of August after 72 port workers – a pitifully low number of them vaccinated – boarded a Covid-19 contaminated container ship Rio De La Plata.

Besides the gravity of these two massive problems, they both involve Ardern’s most competent ministers, Energy Minister Megan Woods and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

And they are about failures to deliver the absolute basics, heat and light in winter, and border systems to keep out Covid.

According to Audrey Young it was only through a large dose of luck and a little cleverness that Jacinda Ardern dodged political disaster earlier this year.

Read the full story here.

The day Judith Collins put her reputation on the line – August 30

Opposition leader Judith Collins took a big risk earlier this year in forcing the reopening of Parliament in the midst of the lockdown for Delta.

She kept banging on about wanting to resurrect last year’s effective Epidemic Response Committee which was chaired by the then Leader of the Opposition.

But this is not last year. National is no longer the biggest party in Parliament as it was then. The limits to freedoms are no longer novel and scary. We know they are temporary. And coronavirus is now more dangerous.

Her judgment is on trial – as will be her performance.

Read the full story here.

The verdict on Nick Smith – June 9

When Nick Smith made his first speech in Parliament as a 25-year-old in 1990, he showed much of the passion that has bedevilled his political career, for better or for worse.

That career came to an end this year – a year earlier than planned.

Smith’s has been a career dogged by controversy, not least because when he gets stuck into something, he sometimes becomes not just passionate but impatient, rude and obsessive.

Standards have changed. If Smith were at the start of his career and not the end of it, he would either be offered professional help or be managed out of the job.

Smith’s passion was his greatest liability as well as his strength.

Read the full story here.

Govt ditching second-language bill fails a generation of kids – June 3

Parliament’s education select committee has done a disservice to generations of kids all over New Zealand by ditching Nikki Kaye’s bill that would have guaranteed language learning in primary and intermediate schools.

Its decision to kill the bill is a classic case of what Voltaire called the perfect being the enemy of the good.

The bill may not have been perfect but instead of improving its flaws, and finding a compromise, the majority on the committee decided to ditch it altogether.

There was an obvious way to reach a compromise over the second-language bill.

Read the full story here.

Ardern's knee-jerk reaction to SFO – May 17

Jacinda Ardern’s knee-jerk response to the news that a donation to her own Labour Party led to Serious Fraud Office charges against six individuals in May was “let’s look at the law”.

The Prime Minister was right when she said that New Zealanders want to have confidence in the system.

And the fact that 12 individuals were facing Serious Fraud Office charges in relation to donations to three political parties may have undermined confidence in something. But not necessarily “the system”.

“The system” spent several years investigating the donations – and “the system” has laid charges.

Read the full story here.

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