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There’s more real life than limbo going on

It already seems like a long time ago, even though it’s been just a couple of weeks.

And what an enthralling day it was as most of us lined up in queues across New Zealand to exercise our democratic rights.

It’s a little bit strange now, but I suspect I’m not alone in noticing that we don’t really have a proper government. And yet, no one seems to mind. Either that or they are keeping very quiet if they do.

The focus has quickly shifted from almost daily poll results to frenzied reporting in breathless staccato bursts on the night, to not very much at all. Since Luxon made his first major public pronouncement as prime minister-elect that coalition talks would not be conducted through the media, there has been almost complete silence. Not that everyone could keep quiet, or off social media, but who cares about whatshisface?

Radio New Zealand reported that negotiations to form a new government between National, ACT and NZ First were taking place this week in Auckland at an unknown venue. The report said little was known about what was going on.

We do know that new and returning MPs will be getting a short holiday break this year. Luxon said the new government was expected to break late for Christmas and start again early next year. He was quoted as saying there was plenty to do:”Well, no disrespect, but that’s what happens for the rest of the country, New Zealanders … work up till Christmas, they take Christmas break and then they get back into it in the new year. It’s very similar here, I think.

“New Zealanders voted for change; we’ve got a lot to get through; if we start earlier and have to finish later, so be it.”

Fair enough.

Luxon, Seymour and the others have good reason to keep quiet for now. First of all, there’s that razor-thin majority. One or two MPs down, and things begin to look a tad uncomfortable. Then there’s the large number of special votes still to formally record – more than half a million.

Historically, those votes have tended to favour the Green Party, with students [who often live away from their electorate] and overseas votes making up a big chunk of them. If the Greens or Labour pick up one or more extra MPs, New Zealand First can be expected to become a more important part of the so-far-secret coalition talks. Of course, if the special votes favour National and Act [or cancel each other out], they will still have a majority, if only a very small one.

In the meantime, it’s a strangely relaxing environment to be in. No politicians making daily pronouncements, resigning from cabinet [or being elbowed out of cabinet], explaining why things haven’t happened, and promising to do better while admonishing their opposition for doing worse.

At the same time, New Zealand is getting on with business. There’s a World Cup to win, local authority business is carrying on apace, and people are getting ready for the upcoming festive season. Secondary school and university students are studying for exams and looking forward to the end of the academic year.

Is it possible we don’t need those Wellington bureaucrats at all?

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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