James Elliott’s look back at the news of the week as our political leaders audition for new roles on the big screen

This last week has been all about movies and glamour. From the handing out of the Oscars to the handing in of Steven Joyce’s resignation, to the handing over of cheques at red carpet events across the Pacific. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who was launched to stardom during last year’s surprise hit Red October has been in another starring role this week with her “Pacific Reset” tour. The feature film version of the trip is titled ‘Friends With Financial Benefits’ and has a budget of about $25 million. Set against a variety of tropical backgrounds the plot sees Jacinda Ardern presented with an assortment of traditional hats in exchange for development and aid cheques while supporting actor Winston Peters tags along quietly in the background. Very quietly. So quietly in fact that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re doing a simultaneous Pasifika remake of the cult classic – Weekend at Winnie’s.

Some have been critical of the timing of the Pacific Reset tour but with sea levels predicted to rise four feet by 2100 it undoubtedly makes sense to visit the Pacific islands now while they’re still there.   

Meanwhile, having just successfully auditioned for the role of new National Party leader Simon Bridges promptly fluffed his lines in The Interrogation of Simon Bridges, directed by Lisa Owen, when he said that some prisoners could vote. They can’t. The National government banned all prisoners from voting in 2010. At least he can both star in and narrate his own recovery in The Sure Shanked That Redemption.

Joyce was probably best known for his cameo appearances towards the end of his career, most notably the short-lived lawyer in ‘Pretty Legal’ and of course as the face of ‘To Catch a Dildo’.  

Voting with his feet was Steven Joyce who quit politics after 10 years in Parliament. It seemed like a lot longer. Maybe that was because of the feature roles he packed into that decade. Like The Vanishing, the Novopay story of how teachers were supposed to be paid, but in a surprise twist, weren’t. It was such a long-running saga that it was re-released as The Neverending Story. However Joyce was probably best known for his cameo appearances towards the end of his career, most notably the short-lived lawyer in Pretty Legal and of course as the face of To Catch a Dildo.  

But least Joyce recognised when it was time to leave the stage, unlike Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith who have stayed stumbling around in the wings like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, waiting for the realisation that their political careers are dead. Spoiler alert – they are. But Judith Collins is not. She’s quietly plotting a new plot, a remake of the Bond classic Papakura Is Not Enough.

There was also an interesting subplot to the Steven Joyce departure involving the NBR and Matthew Hooton who wrote a highly critical piece about Joyce in what proved to be his final NBR column. Joyce claimed Hooton’s piece was “highly defamatory” which probably means the piece isn’t defamatory at all based on Joyce’s prior “pretty legal” punditry. The NBR backed Hooton’s column but parted ways with him nonetheless. It was apparently all very amicable like the scripted break-up of a Hollywood supercouple. NBRooton pledged mutual respect for each other and claimed that no third parties were involved in the break up. However by the end of the week Hooton had found comfort in the arms of the NZ Herald, showing that these days the grief cycle is about as long as the news cycle.                     

Also wasting no time in getting into the news cycle was National’s new finance spokesperson, namesake Amy Adams. She stepped up confidently to the new role and then stepped straight down into Steven Joyce’s $11.7 billion hole, claiming that the Government’s fiscal deficit could be considerably more than even he had claimed. It seems we’ll have to wait a few months to see how this cliffhanger, Journey to the Centre Right of the Earth ends.        

Meanwhile for the rest of us the biggest cliffhanger question of the week came from the census that we, ahem, all dutifully filled out on Tuesday night. What is a conservatory? What does it mean if I declare that I have one?  What does it mean if I don’t? How is a conservatory different from a gazebo? Or a pergola? Who can I ask about this?

It turns out you couldn’t ask Statistics Minister James Shaw because he was also on the “Pacific Reset” tour playing the role of the Invisible Man. And playing it very well indeed. To be fair he was being entirely consistent with the theme of complete transparency having recently announced that Green ministers will release their ministerial diaries and that all Green Party MPs and staff will not accept corporate hospitality unrelated to their work.        

So no free movie tickets for the Greens then, unless you want to take them to The Silent Partner

Have a peaceful weekend.

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