Teams Red and Blue both showed it will never be too late to do a U-turn on Ian Foster. Flip flop expert James Elliott examines a week jam-packed with the cringe-worthy manoeuvre.
This has been a week in which significant sacrifices have been made to support New Zealand Rugby. That’s rugby with a capital ‘R’, the organisation that runs New Zealand rugby with a lower case ‘r’. That support has been specifically targeted at the Board of New Zealand Rugby. That’s Board with a capital ‘B’, the eight people who, pursuant to clause 10.2 (f) of the Constitution of New Zealand Rugby Union Inc have “all powers necessary” to appoint coaches of New Zealand rugby teams. That’s the Board that, just a fortnight ago, and 10 days before the first ever loss to Argentina on home soil, decided to confirm Ian Foster as All Blacks’ coach through to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
And that’s the Board that was supported this week by our political class who, at great sacrifice to their own standing and credibility, demonstrated that sometimes a U-turn on a decision you’ve just made, like say confirming Ian Foster as All Blacks’ coach through to next year’s Rugby World Cup, is the only viable course of action no matter how crushing to perceptions of your credibility and competence.
First to put his body on the line, specifically headline, was Revenue Minister David Parker. He’s not just the Revenue Minister, he’s also the Attorney General, Minister for the Environment, Associate Minister of Finance and the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries – quite the utility player. But this week he came off the bench for Team Red in his capacity as Revenue Minister to announce the Government’s U-turn on a plan to charge GST on KiwiSaver fees – a plan that wasn’t announced but rather included in the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2022-23, Platform Economy, and Residual Matters) Bill, introduced to Parliament just 18 hours before the U-turn – a plan that was the political equivalent of that lineout throw-in by Codie Taylor in last week’s test.
This is good news for the NZR Board is if they do do a U-turn on Ian Foster then brickbats like “nail in the credibility coffin” and “most incompetent in living memory, and perhaps ever” have already been used.
Charging GST on something you haven’t charged GST on before is bound to upset someone somewhere so it makes sense not to draw attention to it by announcing it. Better to introduce it quietly, in fact silently, by including it in a new Bill, say the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2022-23, Platform Economy, and Residual Matters) Bill. And kudos to whoever spotted its inclusion. I couldn’t find it in the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2022-23, Platform Economy, and Residual Matters) Bill and I knew what I was looking for. Now I’m anxious as to what else has been silently introduced under the now ominous catch-all category of ‘Residual Matters’. How do we beat Argentina tomorrow night? We have to score more points than they do and we also have to attend to some other residual matters.
But the point for the NZR Board is that the U-turn was made by the Government – cringingly, grudgingly, and embarrassingly, but made nonetheless. Specific grudges were directed at the media, the Opposition, banks, fund managers and the IRD – query why they didn’t also grubberkick some grudges at the supply chain, Gaurav Sharma and the weather. Embarrassment came in the form of the inevitable media feeding frenzy. In politics you can’t just flush a u-turn quietly through the u-bend, it has to be chewed up and spat out by the wastemaster of media punditry and pontification. Mike Hosking labelled it “another nail in the Labour Party credibility coffin” and Matthew Hooton concluded that “this is the most incompetent New Zealand Government in living memory, and perhaps ever”. This is good news for the NZR Board is if they do do a U-turn on Ian Foster then brickbats like “nail in the credibility coffin” and “most incompetent in living memory, and perhaps ever” have already been used.
You’re driving to Parliament. You see Brian Tamaki on the side of the road trying to hitch a ride to the same destination. What do you do? You do a U-turn.
Good news also for Team Blue’s Christopher Luxon whose U-turn on Brian Tamaki also had a strong nail and credibility coffin vibe about it. Last week Luxon was asked whether he would rule out working with Brian Tamaki’s new Freedoms NZ Party. This is not a trick question. It’s the equivalent of having a rugby ball placed in your hands over the opposition’s try line and they’re all back on halfway – all you have to do is ground it. And yet somehow he managed to knock on, his own foot kicking the ball out of his hands on its way to his mouth. So, for the record, last week Luxon refused to rule out working with Freedoms NZ making this week’s U-turn on that as inevitable as the next Gaurav Sharma Facebook post.
Maybe this week he saw the question scenario differently, and more clearly. You’re driving to Parliament. You see Brian Tamaki on the side of the road trying to hitch a ride to the same destination. What do you do?
You do a U-turn.
Have a peaceful weekend.