And so we come to the end of a week where I have barely mentioned Covid. A week where the Director-General of Health has resigned. And he told us he wanted to finish the job; Dr Bloomfield leaves his position in July.
With that departure date, you can get no better indication that this phase of the pandemic is coming to an end.
Which is not to say some new twist might yet emerge. But let’s not go there until we have to.
And as the virus falls off our front pages we’re beginning to see stories that were hidden by the fog of war Covid provided. A fog that protected senior ministers from scrutiny.
None more so than Police Minister Poto Williams. She’s had a week from hell.
Firstly she prevents the new opposition spokesperson on Police matters having a sit down with the Commissioner. Why? Who knows.
Then she rejects the premise that gang activity has increased despite all the statistics and evidence at hand.
Finally, she abdicates her responsibility on police response times by firstly claiming she did not have the figures, and secondly by claiming it is an operational matter and beyond her gambit.
It shows a naivety over what her job as Minister is. A Police Minister needs to be more on the front foot than most.
It is correct that the Police are independent in their operational matters. They have to be so they can police the politicians too. You can’t have Ministers telling Police who to investigate and who not to, to prevent them misusing power for political purposes. [It’s clear that Jacinda has done this, however. —Eds]
But Ministers have the ability to hold the police to account for their operational decisions.
The opposition found the wait times using the Official Information Act. So her staff obviously knew about the problem and so she should’ve been across it too and she needs to solve the problem. But she’s done nothing about it and when asked appears to think she has no power to.
Poto joins a growing list of Government Ministers who appear to enjoy the baubles of office, but resent having to do the actual work.