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Former PM Jacinda Ardern drags Ruth Richardson’s legacy, but maybe she should be thanking her instead

Summarised by Centrist 

Typically, former Prime Ministers stay above the fray, but Dame Jacinda Ardern is not a typical former Prime Minister. According to political commentator Robert Macculloch, “The more she puts her good self up, the more she pulls NZ down & makes her fellow Kiwis look bad.”

In a speech in Bologna, Italy, Ardern goes after the coalition government’s public service cuts by harkening back to the past. She links former Finance Minister Ruth Richardson’s economic reforms, which opened the economy during the 1980s and 90s, to a neighbor’s suicide. Ardern portrays reform minded politicians from NZ’s past as cruel fear mongers, which Macculloch subtly points out is hypocritical. 

“Stoking fear is not a thing Ardern would dream of doing herself, of course. She’d never tell 1.6 million Aucklanders that thousands & thousands of us would die, die, die – even though most of us were already vaccinated including all of the vulnerable ones – unless we did an almost 4 month lock-down in late 2021, the cause of today’s cost-of-living crisis,” he says. 

Ardern’s portrayal of Richardson’s policies overlooks broader economic factors of the day such as the 1984 Foreign Exchange crisis and oil price shocks – a time when government debt to GDP was over 50%, necessitating public service cuts.  

Perhaps Ardern should be thanking and not dragging the Ruth Richardsons of yesteryear. The record low debt levels the Ardern government inherited helped make Labour’s massive expenditure possible during COVID.

Read more over at Down to Earth Kiwi

Feature Image: MP Ruth Richardson and her baby daughter, Lucy – Photograph taken by Gail Selkirk. Dominion Post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1983/1483/3-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22795472

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