National-ACT coalition negotiations look set to return Sir Roger Douglas to government in a role outside cabinet as Minister for Zoos.
"I'm delighted to be considered for a leadership role in this position," says Sir Roger. "I believe that the ACT party is uniquely qualified to make a contribution to our nation's zoos."
Sir Roger already has well-developed plans to implement a voucher scheme for animals. "The vouchers will provide transition funding for the first year," he explains. "After that, each zoo animal will be responsible for its own upkeep via individual earnings."
"At the moment we have the ridiculous scenario whereby successful creatures are cross-subsidizing unsuccessful ones. Zoo customers clearly prefer exciting animals such as lions, crocodiles, and piranha. Why should their entry fee also pay to support boring animals such as hippos and giraffes?"
Under ACT's proposed system, unprofitable animals will be culled at the end of each financial year. "We intend to auction the hunting rights, which will provide a valuable new income stream for zoos," says Sir Roger. "I anticipate that big-game hunters will pay large sums to bag an unpopular monkey or a flock of penguins that don't do anything. There's also an obvious market for the less physically-active hunter who prefers to stalk animals in the undemanding environment of a zoo enclosure."
Sir Roger describes the nation's zoos as being in crisis after years of mismanagement. "It was a complete shock when we opened the books and realized just how bad the situation had become. There is really no other alternative -- zoo animals must learn that nothing is free in life. Unfortunately some of them will have to make painful or even fatal adjustments because of the politically correct policies of previous governments."
He hopes that ACT's approach to zoos can eventually be duplicated in the wider context of the Department of Conservation. "We should be assessing each New Zealand animal on its economic merit," says Sir Roger. "For example, if we were honest, I think most of us would acknowledge that Hector's dolphins aren't really big enough to be considered proper dolphins -- basically they're just fish. In this case, wouldn't it be more sensible to hunt them as food? I also have serious fiscal concerns about our nation's bird-life. Is there really any point to fantails and takahe? Shouldn't they be replaced with more financially-viable animals such as vampire bats or venomous snakes?"
ACT leader, Rodney Hide, says that Sir Roger's appointment as Minister for Zoos provides a valuable opportunity for his party. "Like the rest of New Zealand, our nation's zoos have become nothing more than a socialist nanny-state," he claims.
"This makes them the perfect candidate for reform, and will provide a clear demonstration to our coalition partners of the effectiveness of ACT policy."
"Obviously, it's only a small step from Minister of Zoos to Minister of Tertiary Education," adds Sir Roger. "And from there, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before we can implement similar policies in the health system, ACC, and social welfare."