It's been a House sitting week, so without further ado here's this week's Whipping Post.
The test of times
If you’re one of those people that dreads a job interview, spare a thought or three for former PM Helen Clark, who put her hand up for the UN’s top job this week.
The process for the appointment of Ban Ki-Moon’s successor is enough to give anyone the heebie jeebies. It reads like a Dragons’ Den masterclass with each of the candidates having to submit a 2,000-word essay pitching themselves for the role, as well as facing a two-hour plus grilling from ambassadors of the member states and a selection of NGOs, businesses and individuals from outside the organization. Still, if anyone can stare down a dragon it’s the inimitable Miss C. And the world appears to agree - she’s been named by British bookmakers as joint favourite to take the role, along with Bulgarian politician and director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova.
In the spirit of conviviality parties put aside their differences and agreed that charging RSAs to serve a tot during their Anzac Day breakfast was a rum deal. An anomaly in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act meant cash-strapped RSAs had to pay $500 for a special licence if they wanted to add a traditional tot (usually rum) to coffee following the dawn service. Historical accounts variously describe the ‘gunfire breakfast’ as consisting a cook up of whatever food was available, biscuits and jam or tinned Bully Beef. Prepared and eaten in darkness, and to the sound of the day’s first shots, they were often served cold as any fires or smoke would have given away their position to the enemy. We hear the fare these days is considerably more appetising.
The Parliamentary Rugby team is notorious for its rough and tumble and the latest clash of the Titans against the Chatham Islands was no exception. By the end of the game the two Terrys on the team – security guard Terry Tearikiau and One News cameraman Terry Williams – had matching broken ribs to join their matching names. But the Parliamentary team was triumphant, winning 12-0. MP Kris Faafoi told Maori Television after the game: “We're sore, we're buggered, and they've bought a lot of crayfish over so we're going to enjoy that too.” The Parliamentary netball team, which included Labour MPs Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri and Poto Williams, also won against the Chathams 32-24. As Meka said, it was all about the win: “We don't do participation, that's for primary kids we're politicians.”
Flask in the pan
It was slops last week, this week it’s hot water. While the heat’s been on Health Minister Jonathan Coleman recently over the quality of hospital food, he would have been in a cold sweat after a social media oopsy saw him post a direct message publically on Twitter last night. It’s since been deleted, but not before an eagle eyed observer took a screen shot. Guesses as to what was in the flask include an emetic, milk of human kindness, chicken soup for the soul, top shelf.
Or not, as the case may be. The week has been monopolised by the fallout from the Panama Papers, with New Zealand featuring as one of the 21 "tax havens" used by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the scandal, to set up offshore companies for clients. The PM, of course, reckons it’s nothing to do with him, arguing NZ "has full disclosure of information”, and if there are loopholes that allow the mega wealthy to hide their dosh then that’s Labour’s fault. Er, no. As Andrew Little says, that was then, this is now. "he prime minister is wrong when he says there is full disclosure about these things, the nature of these foreign trusts is they don't have to disclose how much they've got, how much they've got sitting in them."And that spells tax haven.
Or not…after originally being given four weeks to consider hundreds of submissions on the TPPA, members of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee were told yesterday, sorry chaps/chapesses but you’ve only got five days. David Clark’s this is “a shocking case of political expediency” summed it up well. He went on to say: “Rushing the deal back to Parliament without time for panel members to question officials fully and gain considered responses is an affront to democracy.” Indeed.
We’ve all been guilty of grammar (or should that be grammatical?) crimes. But there’s also something immensely satisfying about pointing out the mistakes of others and nothing gets the finger wagging more than the misuse of an apostrophe. So when Parliament’s in-house café Copperfields (no apostrophe) produced a list of five beverages, all with extraneous apostrophes, you can imagine the delighted outrage of the punctuation police.