Jacinda Ardern never wanted to be prime minister
But she did it anyway. Yesterday’s announcement of the prime minister's resignation might best be described as shocking but unsurprising. Here’s the wrap and the good reads.
In today’s edition: Christopher Luxon reshuffles portfolios; food prices hit 30-year high; Tory Whanau's plans for the future of Wellington, but first, the news that usurped all other news yesterday
Clarke Gayford and Jacinda Ardern in Napier after Ardern’s resignation announcement (Photo: Getty Images)
What actually happened yesterday?
I think Ben McKay of the Australian Associated Press summed up the vibe yesterday by tweeting “Journalists and Labour MPs went to Napier expecting an election date. They got the retirement of prime minister Jacinda Ardern”, and then “incredible day. one I'd like to live again without filing deadlines.” That sense of discombobulation was perfectly exemplified by hearing current and former RNZ Morning Report hosts, Corin Dann and Guyon Espiner, on the radio last night driving home. What even was the time? If you are looking to catch up, The Spinoff’s Stewart Sowman-Lund absolutely wrecked his keyboard on live updates as yesterday unfolded, while Toby Manhire provided a speedy summary and analysis. Newsroom’s Marc Daalder also has a lovely account of the press conference.
Jacinda Ardern never wanted to be prime minister
On one hand, we have the political context and the frenetic spinning of wheels about what happens next to consider. On the other, the cultural and historical weight of Ardern’s resignation that bookends a specific era and that I think reveals something about the changing nature of political careers and the legacy of John Key’s resignation. News environments don’t really allow a lot of time for absorbing the latter but Spinoff editor and author of “Jacinda Ardern: A New Kind of Leader”, Madeleine Chapman, has a thoughtful and informed perspective this morning headlined “Jacinda Ardern never wanted to be prime minister”. The Herald’s Vera Alves has also latched onto a relatable sentiment with her opinion piece “I cannot believe Jacinda Ardern didn’t quit earlier”.
So what happens next?
It’s hard to imagine the Labour party wanting anything but a very clean transition. They remain the disciplined caucus of the last five and a half years. Given the party’s current polling, a protracted and public battle would not help matters. But a new leader must be found and this is still someone’s opportunity for a shot at the job. A vote will be taken on Sunday and if two thirds of the caucus agree, it’s a done deal. If that doesn’t happen, it will go to the wider party membership. The Herald’s Audrey Young (paywalled) thinks Grant Robertson should reconsider his decision to not stand as leader. For what it’s worth, Robertson categorically ruled that out a while ago, as detailed in Madeleine Chapman’s 2021 profile for North and South. Failing that, Young thinks Chris Hipkins is the next logical successor. Unofficial official odds have Hipkins out in front. Kiritapu Allan also is being talked about, perhaps with the support of Labour’s Māori caucus and Michael Wood, mentioned in the past as a potential leader, would have good union support if the vote went beyond caucus and to the wider membership and affiliated organisations.
A rare leader and a mixed legacy
I think it’s a bit early to begin summarising Ardern’s legacy in a way that will hold water for years to come but I have a slow processing speed and history is being written now. Ardern’s most immediate and short term legacy is the setting of the election date: October 14. The Guardian's Tess McClure has a very good analysis that captures the complexity of Ardern’s tenure - both her strengths and the areas in which she struggled to make headway. Stuff’s Kate Newton and Felippe Rodrigues have looked at data on some key indicators that shape Ardern's time as prime minister. I will say that despite my documented opposition to people asking Ardern to DJ and my very rational arguments as to why she may not want to do that anymore, her resignation does free up her schedule for Laneway. I also enjoyed this career suggestion from the Whakataki Times.
🚨 EMERGENCY PODCAST: Jacinda Ardern resigns 🚨
An out-of-gas Jacinda Ardern is standing down as prime minister. What prompted the decision, what legacy will she leave, who is in the running to succeed her, and what does it all mean for election year? Toby Manhire, Annabelle Lee-Mather and Ben Thomas race from their own caucus retreat into the studio for this emergency episode of Gone By Lunchtime.
Get tickets for the Morningside Block Party featuring Gone By Lunchtime here.
Luxon announces reshuffle
Before the prime minister resigned, we were all leisurely reading news of National leader Christpher Luxon’s reshuffle and speech. Toby Manhire has summarised his speech. Manhire writes that Luxon “was a picture of confidence”. Luxon outlined the party’s priorities including reducing the cost of living and an “inflation fighting plan”; a “five point plan” for prosperity and growth; a law and order plan to stop New Zealand becoming “southside Chicago”; and a focus on education and health frontline services, with a focus on outcomes. On the portfolio and list reshuffles, all was forgiven with the former leaders. Judith Collins leapt up the ranks from 18th to 10th. Todd Muller added the climate change portfolio to agriculture and moved up to 12th place on the list.
Food prices hit 30-year high
New figures out from Stats NZ yesterday revealed that food prices were up by 11.3% in December 2022 on the year prior. That’s the biggest annual increase since April 1990, when food prices increased by 11.4%. Fruit and vegetable prices were up by 23%. As is traditional, I’ve found the number one single at the comparative historical juncture. In April 1990, it was, ironically, Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares To You”. As it turns out, something can now be compared and it’s the price of potatoes.
Tory Whanau's plan for transport, housing, and the future of Wellington City
Wellington has a new mayor determined to shake things up. At the beginning of the year, Tory Whanau was a mayoral candidate pitching her ambitious vision for the future of Wellington city. Now, she sits in the top spot and is tasked with turning that vision into a reality. She talks with Bernard Hickey, host of When the Facts Change, exactly one year on from when they last spoke on the podcast, to discuss economics, housing, and who she would be nervous about becoming the next transport minister.
Click and collect
Later school starts for senior students a ‘no-brainer’, researchers say
Wairarapa districts become dark sky reserves
Locals had been lobbying for lifeguards at beach where a man lost his life and one person is still mising
Blame it on TikTok - why a usually low-selling bit of pipe is in short supply
First wild kiwi egg laid in Wellington in over a century
Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Get in touch with me at email@example.com.
If you liked what you read today, share The Bulletin with friends, family and colleagues.
Right now on The Spinoff
(Alt title: the world continues to turn, read the bean ranking)
A panel of Wellington legume enthusiasts tastes and ranks the 19 most easy-to-source bean varieties. Joan Grey says this year’s football World Cup in Aotearoa will be way bigger than you think. Is there a “correct” way to do your laundry? Stewart Sowman-Lund puts a laundry list of questions to a washing professional. And Thomas Giblin meets Trevor Rainbolt, aka the world's most recognisable professional Google Maps player.
Andy Murray continues to be epic
I am now at risk of being exposed as an Andy Murray superfan but after a match that went deep into the night, Murray finally beat Thanasi Kokkinakis at 4am (Melbourne time). It lasted 5 and a half hours and it was Murray’s second five-setter in a week. The finish time failed to beat the record for latest finish at a grand slam. That remains in the hands of Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis who concluded their match in 2008 at 4:34am.
It is still Friday so…
I loved this from Stuff’s Virgina Fallon on all the names she’s given her pets over the years. I can’t claim the names of my dogs are original, perhaps more pompous and derivative, but Fallon bounces off the recently published list of popular dog names and encourages more creativity.