This was an actual headline in The Australian on Monday: “Danger across the ditch as incompetent leader Ardern wins office.”
The columnist goes on to describe Ardern as a “grossly incompetent administrator” with her re-election putting New Zealand in place for a “dangerous three years.”
Gideon Rozner then quotes a “leading think tank” as suggesting New Zealand is on path to end up as a “failed state”.
This is the same New Zealand that has been praised by the World Health Organisation for its COVID-19 response.
The same New Zealand that awarded Ardern’s Labour a landslide victory, granting it a significant mandate to move forward with its progressive agenda.
And this particular columnist’s efforts came just days after The Australian’s editors issued a pre-election attack on the NZ PM, describing her as a “poor Prime Minister” undeserving of her widespread popularity. Greg Sheridan wrote last week: “No international halo is so shabby, or so fraudulent as that worn by the New Zealand Prime Minister.
Sheridan went on to say that her reputation is “partly” due to her being a “young, left-wing woman who gave birth in office and took maternity leave.”
“She could do her high priestess of the woke religion stuff, day after day. Validated by a swooning international media, unchallenged by a tepid and under-resourced local media, she has sold the narrative that her government has saved New Zealand.”
Of course, Ardern’s accustomed to varying forms of abuse from Australian men, with Alan Jones breaching broadcasting ‘decency’ rules last year when he suggested Scott Morrison shove a “sock down her throat”.
It’s no surprise that Ardern’s re-election has left some men feeling rattled.
Even our own Prime Minister Scott Morrison perhaps feels a twinge of apprehension at what Ardern’s mandate signifies. He reportedly called to congratulate her resounding win on Sunday, but refrained from publicly tweeting such well wishes despite many other leaders doing so. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson even cited their “work together to tackle climate change” in the process.
Meanwhile, a grinning Ardern responded that she doesn’t have “those direct communications with the president of the United States” when asked if Donald Trump had been in contact.
Of course, The Australian’s column flies in the face of most other media internationally, that describes Ardern as a “beacon of hope in our tumultuous times.”
The New York Times said she “now has a mandate more in line with her international adoration.”
Bloomberg noted her election endorsed a more “inclusive brand of leadership” that sits in stark contrast to that of Donald Trump.
Certainly her appointment of the most diverse parliament in New Zealand’s history is evidence of that; with huge boosts in female, LGBTQI, Māori and multicultural representation. Many older, white, male members have lost their posts in Ardern’s progressive reimagining of the country.
Ardern’s unfamiliar politics of compassion, vision and unity may differ from what we’re used to. Indeed, it might be all too much for certain columnists used to old-guard tactics of evasion and inertia from their elected representatives. But for most of us (including the majority of New Zealanders)? We’re letting out a huge sigh of relief.