For those in Parliament, 2021 has felt less a year and more a decade as time lost all meaning, writes political editor Jo Moir.
Covid has continued to dominate the agenda, along with National Party implosions and leadership changes (déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would put it).
Lockdowns have come off, gone on again, and come off again. New variants arrived and new traffic light systems were developed.
2021 has really seen it all.
So, in a year where it’s been difficult to predict anything, Newsroom has taken time to reflect and offer a few awards to those in the political beat that have caught our attention.
Award for resilience in the face of adversity:
Winner: National Party MP Simon Bridges takes out this award for his ability to get back up over and over again. He’s taken some knocks over the years and despite Judith Collins’ best efforts to take him out once and for all, he’s ended up in the sweet position of being finance spokesman under Chris Luxon’s leadership.
Runner up: This goes to National’s Harete Hipango who could have said enough is enough after a number of her colleagues spoke to Newsroom about why they don’t think she has much to offer the party. But she came back anyway and is still there, probably wondering from time-to-time which MPs said what.
The Trans-Tasman traveller of the year is clearly the Delta variant, which made its way out of Sydney and into MIQ and the Auckland community in absolute record time, aided by the lack of pre-departure testing requirements from New South Wales.
The Broadway prize for best theatre in the House – Grant Robertson wins by a country mile. The Finance Minister seems to spend more time writing zingers for inevitable leadership challenges and National Party implosions than he does preparing for whoever the new finance spokesperson might be.
The No-Doz Cup for burning the candle at both ends – Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins could both do with finding a cave to hibernate in for a year to catch up on lost sleep.
The prize for commitment to vaccination – Te Pati Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and National MP Shane Reti have been doing the hard yards actually putting jabs in arms in remote parts of the country while their colleagues have been in Parliament talking about getting jabs in arms.
The Houdini Award goes to Kris Faafoi – he’s been in Parliament, we’ve seen him, but he hasn’t really been present. There’s only so many more times he can say, “An immigration reset is coming.”
The surprising hot button topic of the year – Three Waters: it seems the definition of what some in journalism call a “dull but worthy” issue, yet it has sparked plenty of protests and petitions, causing the Government an absolute headache. Expect more of the same come 2022.
The Thomas Rymer Memorial Trophy for Poetic Justice – this one goes to Judith Collins. The Crusher got crushed.
Crises that kept on delivering in unexpected ways – this award is jointly shared between housing and child poverty. It only took a global pandemic to show all those decades of not investing in fixing the housing and poverty crises have resulted in the country’s most vulnerable being hardest hit by yet another crisis. Go figure.
Hermit queen award – Jacinda Ardern briefly tried to go to Europe and then gave up on that idea, sticking it out with the team in Aotearoa for the entire year.
And that’s a wrap from Newsroom’s team in the press gallery.
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Have a Happy Christmas and here’s to 2022, surely it can only get better…