Pride comes before a political fall, or two. James Elliott takes a look at the news of the week
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern chalked up another first at the weekend becoming the first PM to walk in, rather than just attend, the Auckland Pride Parade. Finance Minister Grant Robertson was also there, warming up for what might be a busy year spinning Treasury statistics by spinning some vinyl at the Golden Dawn post-parade party. In a stunningly transparent move DJ Grant’s set list was released almost immediately and without the need for an Official Information Act request. Befitting a Minister in a shiny new government his first four songs were by New Order. And, the latest Colmar Brunton polls on Monday showed growing approval for our own new political order with Labour up 9 points to 48% support.
The Greens were down to 5% in the same poll but had a bump nonetheless when co-leader contender Julie Anne Genter announced that she was pregnant, adding that there must be something in the water at Bellamy’s. The Ministry of Health and WorkSafe are understood to be investigating.
Health and safety issues were also top of mind across the aisle. Anyone in close proximity to the National caucus was in danger of being hit by yet another hat being tossed into the leadership contest ring. At last count there were three hats, an advanced combat helmet and a multi-purpose “neck massager” in the ring. The full list of National leadership contenders reads like the characters in a newly discovered Enid Blyton novel, “Five Go Berserk In The Old Parliament Buildings”: The Front Stabber, The 11.7 Billion Dollar Man, Bridges to Nowhere, No Not the Actress From Julie and Julia The Other One, and Mitchell Who?
For the procedurally minded the National Party leadership selection process starts with a set of time-honoured pre-vote rituals: voodoo doll pricking, Ouija board consulting and entrails reading. Then there’s the vote by secret ballot at next Tuesday’s caucus meeting. The new leaders are announced, followed by an equally time-honoured post-vote ritual: the pledge of loyalty to the new leadership by the vanquished with teeth gritted behind a fixed smile and fingers firmly crossed behind the back.
And don’t forget that National is also voting for Deputy Leader next week. Current Deputy Paula Bennett looks to be on the way out, her once seemingly unstoppable leadership prospects having gone from hyped to wiped. Now she’s like the doomed contestant on Survivor who finds out just before the Tribal Council vote that she’s not holding the immunity idol after all, just a brightly painted stick.
And Paula Bennett is not the only deputy leader at risk. It was speculated during the week that NZ First’s Ron Mark will be rolled at a caucus vote next week. This seemed to catch some people by surprise. Who knew that NZ First held caucus votes? And for those who would like to do well at next week’s pub quiz the apparent deputy-in-waiting is Fletcher Tabuteau.
Ron Marked-for-death speculation followed an announcement that Winston Peters had been re-elected as NZ First leader, apparently “with acclaim”. There were no reports of what that acclaim entailed but the synchronised joy of the North Korean cheerleaders at the Winter Olympics must be a reasonable approximation. Interestingly, Winston’s media moniker changes depending on his issue de jour. He was Minister of Racing when opening the Karaka yearling sales and Foreign Minister when hosting Julie Bishop. And so this week he was Minister for Overpayments, again, when we found out that he, together with the PM, had been overpaid their MPs accommodation allowance. And when I say “overpaid” I just want to clarify that the sums were paid to them in error, have been repaid in full and an apology has been made by the Department of Internal Affairs. And when I say “found out” I just want to clarify, as I’m sure my editor Tim Murphy from “Winston Peters vs Tim Murphy and others” would want me to do, that my sources were stories published on the Stuff and NZ Herald websites.
Also published this week were all 243 pages of the CPTPP, also known as TPP2.0, the TP formerly known as TPP, and the more acceptable version of 2017’s most hated acronym. You don’t have to read those 243 pages because Minister of Trade David Parker has done that for you, apparently. He declared that the agreement will see the standard of living improve “for everyone from a freezing worker to the owner”. It’s unclear what the benefits will be for those of us who don’t work at or own a freezing works.
We closed out the week celebrating two bronze medals at the Winter Olympics, both won by 16 year olds. Let’s hope that we can improve on that tally in Beijing provided of course that snow’s still a thing in 2022.
Have a tranquil weekend.