While they're still getting used to being taken seriously and driven around in limos, we've already seen some fumbles and fair play by the new government
The early days of a new government are always a bit unreal. A new Prime Minister has a good advice stream from day one, with the support of a well organised department. Other ministers – especially those without past experience – have to put their offices together, learn poicies, wade through the rivers of advice pouring in from their departments, answer calls (they're popular now), start being lobbied etc, etc.
Even getting used to the baubles takes a bit of time – humble deferring officials, chaffeur-driven BMWs at beck and call, rushing all the time to get things done, being feted and taken far more seriously th an before in all sorts of settings, and much more.
All that fuss while going through the process of learning how much more difficult it is to deliver a detailed policy in Government than to make a sweeping generalised commitment in Opposition.
Those members of the new administration will generally be judged generously by the public during this honeymoon period. They have the automatic attraction of being fresh and new. It's all very exciting. They benefit too from the luxury of being able to blame everything that is going wrong on the shortfalls of the previous administration.
Things become much more testing when that pixie dust period winds down, and in many respects it is better to leave judgement until after the real governing period begins.
There have been some fumbles, though, in these early days. The election of Speaker Trevor Mallard turned out to be way more complicated than it should have been. Back in my day a Whip (called that from a historical idea that they control their flock of MPs) who let a debacle like that happen would have (metaphorically speaking) been hung, drawn and quartered. Kelvin Davis looked out of his depth as he mishandled his first session as Acting Prime Minister.
So far, most of the action for the new Prime Minister has been overseas. Our politicians tend to shine when they are in the reflected glory of the international stage.
Generally speaking Jacinda Ardern did pretty well. Most Kiwis in their heart of hearts feel our trans-Tasman neighbours have been pretty heartless when it comes to the treatment of refugees. (and of expat New Zealanders? - Ed).
It is not regarded as good form and not good for our international relationships to really let them have it when it comes to expressing any sentiment on the issue, however.
The Australians know this is not a good look for them, but see any weakening of their hardline position as an open invitation for more boat people to head for Australia. They argue the tough policy has reduced the number of boats arriving.
We really do not run the same risk here in New Zealand; not because we are better, more generous people but because we are better placed geographically. While the offer to accommodate 150 of the Manus Island ex-detainees looks like a kindly welcome hand for the desperate souls who have been incarcerated there, to the Aussie leadership it feels like a bit of holier-than-thou rubbing of salt in the wound.
TPP 11 (the Trans-Pacific Partnership minus Donald Trump’s America) was massaged through the labyrinthine processes of international trade negotiations. Even though it is now called the much more Green-sounding Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (name overkill if I ever did see it), the Green Party still will not support it, even though it is part of the Government.
It does not matter however, as National will. And the Government will get credit for having negotiated a way round that quagmire.
So some runs on the board. But the testing times are still to come.