Southerly by David Haywood


This Week in Parliament: 2 February 2015 - 6 February 2015

Public Address presents our weekly round-up of the important events in parliament.


A week that began with government panic over Jaipur-Literary-Festival-gate has ended with Prime Minister John Key once more firmly in control—thanks to the appointment of a new ‘black ops’ spin doctor.

The mysteriously mononymous appointee, known only as ‘Sooty’, has already stamped his mark on this week’s press conferences. The visibly distraught and sleep-deprived John Key of the previous week, stammering that he was “not relaxed or comfortable” about Eleanor Catton’s Jaipur comments, has now been transformed into a confident and reinvigorated prime minister, breezily dismissing Catton’s opinions as “predictable”.

Red Squad

“I believe Eleanor Catton only made her criticisms because she is intelligent and well-educated,” says John Key in a damning accusation. “Ordinary New Zealand voters don’t need me to spell out what this amounts to—but it’s a word that looks a bit like ‘treacle’.”

During a hard-hitting interview with Mike Hoskings, the prime minister defended his government’s policies against the back-drop of history. “I’m amazed at some people’s ‘convenient’ memory loss. Has Ms. Catton somehow forgotten that a few years ago this country was at war—a war to defend our way of life? It was called the Springbok Tour. And the beatniks lost. I think most New Zealanders would say that Ms. Catton and her fellow beatniks should either ‘put up’ or ‘shut up’.”


Despite the early success of the prime minister’s new spin-doctor, there have already been accusations that ‘Sooty’ is wielding undue influence.

“During his first cabinet meeting he literally perched on John Key’s shoulder,” says one minister, who wanted to be identified only as ‘Nikki’. “And he never spoke to us—just whispered things into the prime minister's ear. It was creepy.”

Moral Obligation

Cabinet insiders claim that ‘Sooty’ is behind the prime minister’s new-found view that New Zealand has a “moral obligation to set an international example” and join the battle against ISIS.

“Once the concept of a ‘moral obligation to set an international example’ was explained to us then we all became really enthusiastic,” says one minister, who wanted to be identified only as ‘Steven’.

“Chris Finlayson suggested that we should declare a trade embargo against Saudi Arabia on the basis of their human rights abuses, and Nick Smith thought that we should implement a descending economy-wide cap on carbon dioxide emissions—he even offered to have his scrotum shaved as a sort of curtain-raiser.”

“But then Sooty whispered into the prime minster’s ear, and John said: ‘Sooty tells me that we must have a flag referendum’. We all felt really sad and let down.”

I Knew The Real ‘Sooty’, Says Former Co-Star.

But what is actually known about the background of ‘Sooty’? A CV obtained under the Official Information Act reveals that ‘Sooty’ was born in 1952, and was once a successful television “family entertainer”. His career peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, when—along with fellow celebrities Rolf Harris and Sir Jimmy Savile—he charmed audiences throughout the British Commonwealth.

“Sooty was impossible to understand,” says his former co-star ‘Soo’, who worked with him for nearly four decades. “I don’t mean in the sense of his weltanschauung or anything—it’s just that he’s so softly-spoken. I could never make out a word he said.”


But Minister of Racing and uncircumcized former farmer, Nathan Guy, claims that he got to know the reclusive spin doctor “as much as anyone can” during the exhaustive interview process—and describes him as “cut”.

“In former times, Britain and her allies were required to fight Rommel in the desert,” says the MP for Ōtaki. “And there’s no doubt that sand can be a terrible irritant. But we’re hardly likely to have a sandstorm inside The Beehive are we? I simply don’t think it’s necessary—even for a bear.”

No Special Treatment for Luvvies

Despite ‘Sooty’ having an entertainment background, the government says that he will “absolutely not” be giving preferential treatment to his former show-business chums.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, points out that—until this week—children’s entertainers ‘Bungle’ and ‘Zippy’ were among CERA’s most highly-paid executives. “But they have now been told that their services are no longer required.”

“Sooty explained that ‘Bungle’ does not fit the corporate image that we wish to project at CERA,” says Brownlee. “Or, at least, Sooty whispered it to the prime minister, and then the prime minister conveyed the message to me. At any rate, I took immediate action.”

Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

“The problem with Zippy is that, well, what sort of a creature is he, exactly?” says Brownlee. “Is he a hippo? He can’t be. George is a hippo. The last thing we want to do at CERA is to project an image that says: we don’t know what we are. So out goes Zippy as well.”

A press release issued by CERA confirmed that two redundancies had been enacted late Friday afternoon.

“We wish to extend our heartfelt appreciation for the invaluable services that these dedicated and hard-working employees have provided over the last five years,” said Sarah, a spokesperson for CERA. “Taxpayers can be assured that the redundancy process was fully supervised by the SPCA, and that the remains have been respectfully interred in a nearby farmer’s offal pit.”

Sooty’s long-time television collaborator, Sweep, declined to be interviewed by This Week In Parliament, explaining via Morse code that his intention to take legal action against Sooty was “well known” and that the matter would shortly be “before the courts”.

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