The Ardern effect (on the election) - Campbell Squared
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The Ardern effect (on the election)

After five years in the top job, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has shared that she “no longer has enough in the tank” and will be stepping down.

She also announced the general election will be taking place on 14 October… but that’s not what’s commanding national and international headlines.

For Jacinda Ardern, moving out of her 9th floor office means more time with her family. But what does it mean for New Zealand? And what are we likely to see in the lead-up to the election?

The new Labour leader is going to need to stamp their mark quickly

With 267 days to go until New Zealanders head to the ballot boxes, time is of the essence for the new Labour leader/Prime Minister. Not only does the country need to get to know who they are, but also what they stand for.

Their policy platform, and their priorities, will need to be outlined with clarity very quickly.

Prior to Christmas, Jacinda Ardern asked her Cabinet to think about which policies they’d like to see prioritised, and which should remain in 2022. What we can expect to see in the coming weeks is the new leader making some calls and potentially stopping some policies in their tracks. 

Political noise is about to be dialled up a few decibels

With a timeline to the election now certain, New Zealanders will start to see and hear more noise in the lead up to October 14.

It’s already started too – just hours before the Prime Minister’s resignation, the National Party announced a minor portfolio reshuffle.

Most notably, there is a shift in focus for Chris Bishop who is also the party’s election campaign chairperson. He’ll now be sharply tuned into the Resource Management Act reforms.

At the caucus retreat in Napier, leader Christopher Luxon outlined his focus areas as the cost of living and crime. National will continue to hammer the Government on these areas, however, pressure will start to build on the blue team to release some tangible policies and move beyond the slogans.

There will be a tightening of the legislation timetable

The election date of October 14 is slightly earlier than many had predicted – and it’s going to impact the Parliamentary timetable. There will be even less time for the House to sit than anticipated, which means extra pressure will be applied to the legislative timetable.

It’s also important to know that public servants will likely slow major decision-making down in the middle of the year, even deferring something that may be too political. So, if you’ve got a request or a suggestion for the Government of the day – get in quick!

As the Prime Minister prepares the Labour caucus for its next chapter, it’s time for the country to prepare for the heat to be turned up further on an already warming campaign trail.

In short: it’s time to expect plenty of noise, plenty of policy decisions, and plenty of action.