The past few days have seen no drama, backstabs, leaks or counter-briefings that we have come to associate with the change in leadership, reports Mark Dahlder.
After Jacinda Ardern announced she was stepping down, the process of appointing a new leader for the Labor Party and the country was swift and bloodless.
All three days between Ardern holding a press conference in Napier on Thursday and Chris Hipkins launching a press conference in Wellington on Sunday, confirming he had been selected as her successor by Labor MPs. and took 2 hours.
Everything ended so fast that speed had unchecked some of the usual boxes. Temporarily abandon portfolios – but the recipients of those interim assignments were all unaware.
“Grant Robertson will be leader of the House and minister of public service. He doesn’t know it yet, but he will now,” Hipkins announced in a chorus of laughter.
Small mistakes of this kind are the natural result of such a rapid process to change the country’s leadership.
But it’s not just speed that matters. I was blown away by the beauty of the movement (some people in the press gallery were disappointed).
Of all the leadership changes over the past few years, the one that did the least damage to the party’s brand was the replacement of Judith Collins with Christopher Luxon. The party caucus kicked her out the next day, and was then called out by Bridges and Luxon.
By contrast, Hipkins never announced his candidacy himself, letting Labor do so when it became clear that he was the sole candidate for the job. While there was feverish speculation suggesting that a smooth change would be desirable, the party clearly decided that a smooth change would be desirable. He happily dispelled rumors that he had done so on Sunday.
The deputy prime ministers were also neatly lined up, with Kiri Alan stepping aside, paving the way for Carmel Ceproni to assume the role of deputy prime minister, while Kelvin Davis retained his job as deputy Labor leader. There was no betrayal, no leaks, no counter-arguments, just like the top jobs.
The bloodlessness was evident on Sunday as lawmakers arrived in parliament with beaming smiles.
Ingrid Leary said the party was “absolutely united”. Naisi Chen praised the party’s “amazing unity” and Jo Luxton said the caucuses were “unified”.
Hipkins, too, apparently got the message, later thanking the caucuses for an easy path to leadership and once again inspiring unity.
“This has been the best leadership transition of any party in the New Zealand Parliament. I think the maturity I have seen in the way my colleagues have handled this process has been very impressive,” he said. He said.
“The level of unity and aloha in the room when the vote was taken this morning was just amazing.”
Ahead of the vote, lawmakers were tight-lipped about the possibility of replacing the deputy minister, saying it was a caucus discussion. In a reflection of Thursday’s discipline in Napier, Labor MPs refused to entertain a debate over who would seek the leadership role, instead concentrating on celebrating Ardern.
The closest anyone came to a gaffe was Ohariu MP Greg O’Connor’s bizarre comment to reporters on the way to Parliament, “The Queen is dead, Long live the King.” Still, it didn’t come close to derailing the proceedings.
After the MPs entered the Labor caucuses room, Ardern and Hipkins walked together down a long red-carpeted corridor. I was greeted by
It was over in about an hour. At one stage the party left with ballot boxes and came back with flowers. After cheering and singing were heard at a few more points, Hipkins and Ceproni gleefully appeared and promised to reveal what happened at a press conference later in the day.
Even Davis, who was reconfirmed as deputy leader, hasn’t stopped sharing news. left without answering.
The press conference itself had all the hallmarks of a post-cabinet press conference, but was particularly unfamiliar with Hipkins, who stood on the podium at the Beehive Theater for a good portion of the Covid-19 briefing. It looked like a Prime Minister in a way, but it wasn’t entirely unique.
A day without all the suspense and drama is exactly what Raver wanted. A rapid change of leadership means that the party is not seen talking about itself for weeks.
Now, as Hipkins put it from the podium, they can focus on “the bread and butter problem.”
https://www.newsroom.co.nz/labours-swift-clean-move-to-pick-new-pm A quick and clean move for workers to elect a new prime minister