Chris Hipkins will be sworn in as prime minister this morning after Jacinda Ardern formally tenders her resignation. Stats NZ will also drop the latest inflation figures this morning, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday morning, sign up here.
Today’s agenda – no time for contemplation
Today was always going to be big. We were already calling it Big Wednesday, then last Thursday happened. Even before Jacinda Ardern resigned, we knew we’d get the inflation figures and the first cabinet meeting of the year today. The economy and the cost of living are set to be the key issues this election year, and today’s figures are the starting horn. New prime minister Chris Hipkins will be sworn in this morning. He won’t get a lot of time to contemplate his big moment. He will lead his first cabinet meeting straight after and then head into his first post-cabinet press conference. An outline of how today will proceed here. Stats NZ will release the consumer price index (CPI) figures for the last quarter of last year around 10.45am.
The Reserve Bank will be right either way
The consensus seems to be that inflation may have peaked. As RNZ’s Giles Beckford reports, economists are picking a CPI of 7.1%, down from the September quarter’s 7.2% and short of the Reserve Bank’s (RBNZ) November forecast of 7.5%. The concern right now is that non-tradable inflation (domestic inflation) is expected to hit a new record high. Good analysis from Stuff’s Tom Pullar-Strecker here on the psychological importance of what happens today and the RBNZ being right, no matter what happens. Either we listened to Adrian Orr in November and cooled the jets or the central bank will be justified in another offical cash rate rise in February.
Fuel subsidy and transport support package ends January 31
Any fall in the CPI is expected to be a result of easing cost pressures on tradables (overseas). A significant drop in fuel prices aided by the continuation of the government’s fuel tax cuts is expected to have contributed to any fall. On January 31, the government’s transport support package will expire. The transport sector is already warning it will increase the price of everyday goods.
“If you are going to leave with a brass band, leave with a brass band from Rātana”
Ardern will also formally tender her resignation at Government House this morning. Her audience with the Governor General is private. She will slip away quietly, the speech she wasn’t expecting to give at Rātana yesterday her final farewell before a valedictory in April. Despite the commentary about the abuse and vitriolic threats to her life she’s endured, Ardern said the job had been the greatest privilege of her life and wanted people to know that she leaves “with a greater love of Aotearoa and its people than when I started.” Her speech in full here.