Parliament wasn’t sitting this week, so in lieu of the Whipping Post, here’s the week that was outside the House.
Sign o’ the times
It wasn’t a red carpet and their names weren’t up in lights, but it was close enough.
Waitara’s Manukorihi Intermediate pulled out all the stops to publicise a visit from Andrew Little, Carmel Sepuloni and Adrian Rurawhe, signalling it in large letters on their community noticeboard. The team were in Taranaki to hear about the issues and challenges facing the region.
School principals raised the increasing pressure they are under to tick boxes rather than teach and how kids are still turning up at school needing a good feed. “These principals have been in the education sector for years but are feeling increasingly despondent with where our education system is heading,” Carmel said, adding many of the local businesses had also mentioned the impact that the decline in dairy is having on them.
A cup of tea and a back down
What a difference a day makes...this was John Key at his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday following questions about where the “small amount” of money paid to cameraman Bradley Ambrose as settlement for a defamation claim was coming from:
“Well, payments are made because I acted in my capacity as the Leader of the National Party. It’s the National Party’s Leaders’ Office and it fits within the rules so, yeah, and that’s not unique to me. Plenty of other politicians can use that and have.”
And 24 hours later, a statement from his office said: "The costs involved in the settlement with Mr Ambrose will not be met by the taxpayer. Funds will be raised via the National Party or by private contributions for this purpose.”
We suspect that doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing a PM-inisteral GiveALittle page anytime soon.
The day wound up with the awful news of another terror attack, this time in Brussels.
Labour’s Future of Work Conference kicked off with a hiss and a roar and a gaff from guest speaker former US Labour Secretary Robert Reich, who alluded to being in Australia. Fellow deep thinker and second speaker Guy Standing put him right, reminding him he was in NZ, the land of cricket and rugby. And bold new ideas.
Which brings us to the quote of the week.
“He’s not capable of dealing with a big idea. He’s never had one of his own.”
- Andrew Little on John Key’s “barking mad” comments regarding having a debate – note DEBATE - on UBI.
You can read more about the Conference, and the Ten Big Ideas that have come from the FoW Commission’s discussion and consultation over the last year here.
We were all aflutter as the flag referendum deadline drew to a close. By 8.30pm it was all over, and as the New York Times put it: New Zealand, Tempted by Bionic Kiwi and Starry-Eyed Sheep, Keeps Its Flag. Meanwhile Andrew Little spoke for many Kiwis when he said there were other priorities that the $26 million could have been used for.
We'll leave the last word on it to satirical twitter account @BeehiveLetters
Rider of the storm
Like moths to a flame so too are politicians to getting their mugs in front of a camera. But West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor surely reached a new high this week. The intrepid Mr O'Connor was on the Old Ghost Road, in the back of Westport's beyond, when Fonterra released its half-yearly profit results. Not one to let a remote wilderness experience, flooding, and no cellphone coverage get in the way of giving the dairy giant a serve, and with media wanting a comment, he clambered up a hill and got on the blower.