Cracker by Damian Christie


Mr Transparent

I don't know what I find more ironic: National's big push to the future essentially being Think Big 2.0, or Helen Clark referring to someone else as 'Muldoonist'?

By appointing a Minister of Infrastructure, and spending (and borrowing) billions to spend on such projects, is there really any other way to look at Key's announcements from the weekend's party conference? And is it possible anyone other than a New Zealand First supporter would fall for the ridiculous semantics found within National's "we're not borrowing for tax cuts, we're borrowing for other stuff" line?

Speaking of Winston Peters, the attacks continue, within the House at least, and with the privileges committee (does anyone else get sick of the media always requiring the subtitle the most powerful committee in Parliament?) deciding to 'probe' Peters.

They say Winston only wakes up every three years and I'm wondering if at the moment he wishes he was still in hibernation? Sure, he's continuing to deflect the attacks, using his "best defence is a good offence" adage, but I wonder whether it's starting to sound even more hollow than it always has? Last week in the House he tried to deflect Rodney Hide's attacks by claiming Hide had been telling people he had a girlfriend, when really that wasn't true.

Even if this were the case, then Rodney's guilty of something most 15 year old boys have done at some stage in their life ("Yes I've got a girlfriend, dick, it's just that um, you haven't met her because she, um, lives in Hamilton. Yes, we've had it off and everything. What's that? Nah she doesn't have a phone eh…") What Winston is being accused of seems a lot more serious. Maybe not against the law either, but for someone who's been campaigning on a platform of transparency, Winston's denials are looking increasingly see-through.

On the other hand, for the old and/or afflicted, simply seeing Winston on the television every night these days, grinning and accusing the media of their usual tricks could be exactly what he wants. These people don’t listen to substance.

I remember years ago, proudly showing my grandmother (old, not necessarily afflicted) the cover of a magazine for whom I was writing. We'd slammed Winston on the front cover, a bold headline accusing him of selling his soul to Satan, or perhaps being Satan, or something. She looked at it longingly and said "there's my Winston."

And it's not just the OAP's either. Both a close relative and a former girlfriend (these are two separate people, you understand) told me they voted for Winston last election, "because someone needs to keep them honest." My response remains, "what, by comparison?"

Winston's dishonesty might not be the big kind, the kind that will get him in trouble with the law, or turfed out of Parliament. It might not be the kind that will see him censured, made to repay money he shouldn't have taken. But, in my honest opinion, he's dishonest every day. Every day he opens his mouth to deny saying something previously. To deny having done something. To fail to take responsibility for years of casting incendiary statements into a crowd, and walking away.

I'm sure most of you agree. I just wish my Nan would.

On a related note, I went around polling people on the street for work today, asking whether if, as the Nats have suggested, there's a binding referendum on MMP, we should dump it. I'm not claiming statistical accuracy here – it was the first dozen or so people who agreed to speak to me on camera outside the West Lynn shops (that's Harvest Wholefoods and so on, so I'd have thought a liberal bias), but 70% said yeah, let's kick it to the curb.

"It was better the way it was before", said one man who didn't seem old enough to have ever voted under FPP, and I wonder what it is people are yearning for, according to my shite science at least? A move away from the farce of having people like Peters and Dunne being Ministers outside of the Government. A move back to the good old days of unbridled power, supposedly benevolent dictatorships and one party running the country, unchallenged, with only thirty-odd percent of the vote?

There's obviously some mood for change, otherwise I can't see why the Nats would offer a binding referendum, but has MMP failed us? We've had stable minority governments, cross-party support on a wide range of issues, parties outside of Government being able to negotiate their policies onto the table. Isn't that sort of what we want in a democracy? Or is it just a bit too hard? Or, is it more a case of –as one middle-aged, seemingly-educated woman put it– "what's MMP?"

In other news, a big Metro piece (the longest I've ever written for non academic purposes, some 4700 words) on and its trials, tribulations and developments over the years has just gone off sale and onto the archive site if you've got some time on your hands.

The current on-sale issue of Metro ("Auckland's Best Lawyers") also has a piece of mine, an interview with, ahem, Labour's next leader, Phil Goff. Go and buy it and keep me in the manner to which I'm accustomed.

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