A run down of what's been happening around the traps this week
Inside the Beltway
It’s often said that Parliament exists in its own little world and that politicians live on another planet. In reality it’s far more down to earth, as Andrew Little shows in this video, shot last Tuesday.
Hear me roar
The great hospital food caper also rolled on, Clare Curran appearing on Checkpoint with John Campbell on Monday, and Annette King using Question Time – and a new survey showing some 174,000 Kiwis who need surgery aren’t even on waiting lists – to remind Jonathan Coleman of the unappetising meals patients are being dished up. Coleman, you’ll recall dropped into Dunedin Hospital recently, “manning up” by enjoying a “yummy” plate of pasta.
Hon Annette King: When he said today that “there’s a difference between surgery people actually need, and surgery people think they need” does he really believe that people wake up in the morning and think: “I’d like to have an operation today. I feel like going under the knife. My pain is just phantom pain. I fancy one of those hospital meals that the Minister tried.”?
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Firstly, I am very glad to hear that the member is following my interviews on 1ZB so closely. I notice that she actually had the opportunity to try one of those hospital meals yesterday in Dunedin, but I guess the crisis talks were so intense that there was no opportunity to go and front up and do what she challenged me to do. I did, and it was a very good meal. Why do you not man up and do it yourself, because you think you are so tough?
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is impossible for me to “man up”—I am a woman.
Mr Speaker: And a very capable one, as well.
Footnote: Hospital food provider Compass Group confirmed this week it would be employing "patient experience co-ordinators" who would patrol wards before, during and after each meal service to review the food and identify any problems.
The PM was looking a little green around the gills this week as the dodgy foreign trust issue continued to hog the headlines. While he undoubtedly hoped it might be put to bed by announcing a review into the rules covering New Zealand-based overseas trusts, he was out of luck, facing a grilling by Andrew Little in the House on Wednesday over his major lack of judgment in appointing John Shewan to head the review. John Key sent Shewan, along with former Act leader Don Brash, to the Bahamas just two years ago where they advised its government to zero-rate financial services to ‘protect the so-called offshore industry’. Tax Haven meet tax haven.
Give me land, lots of land
More murk involving the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal was highlighted by Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson this week with revelations that the Government allowed someone linked to Mossack Fonseca, to purchase sensitive land here in NZ. They are refusing to say where that person comes from or release any other details of the transaction. Very interesting too, that more than $300m of foreign investment came into New Zealand from the Cayman Islands over the last four years, more than the combined amount from Russia, India, Italy, Spain and Sweden. "That's an astonishing amount for one territory with less than 60,000 people,” says Grant. Yes indeed.
What am I bid?
Nick Smith’s proposal to use 500 hectares of surplus Crown land in Auckland for housing took a new turn this week when it was revealed one of the sites earmarked for disposal was none other than Government House in Auckland. So Dame Patsy Reddy hasn’t even got her foot in the door and already she’s having the carpet swept from under her. It was also confirmed Smith’s list did include Mangere Lawn Cemetery, several school sites and an exploding power station, despite the Minister denying it when originally asked about it last year. But wait, there’s more: The $54 million he had to secure the 500h has been spent - on just 25 hectares.
And speaking of fiascos, Bill English was caught out putting the boot into a whole group of young Kiwis at a Fed Farmers meeting in Fielding recently. Responding to a question on the use of immigration workers on farms he said there was a cohort of Kiwis who were illiterate and didn't look employable. They were, he said, “pretty damned hopeless”. Er, hang on. As Kris Faafoi said: “Those are the kinds of people that I have got in my electorate who are desperate to find a job. And yes, in one respect, they have not got any hope. They are not hopeless; they [just] do not have any hope in this government."
“This, as you well know, is not about me.”
Of course it’s not Winston, we all know that. The master of understatement responds to comments from the PM following questions about John Shewan’s credentials.