Comment

Curran the vending machine that keeps giving

James Elliott, in his review of the week, reckons the non-existent Russian spies In this country would be laughing at Clare Curran and Carol Hirschfeld's clandestine meeting.

This week started with Phil Twyford’s announcement of the KiwiBuild plan to build up to 4,000 affordable homes in Mt Albert on land acquired from Unitec.

I’m not sure what affordable means but I am sure I’m not alone in that. It’s bound to be a complicated formula with one of the variables being the price of avocados. I just hope it doesn’t add up to borrowing from KiwiBank to buy from KiwiBuild during the KiwiBubble resulting in KiwiBust.

Demonstrating a startling misunderstanding of the meaning of the MeToo movement Simon Bridges was quick to claim the Mt Albert build was National’s idea all along, they just hadn’t said or indeed done anything about it. That was because National didn’t want to be accused of ‘pork barrel’ politics prior to last year’s election, said Bridges. This from a man who as Transport Minister during the Northland by-election in 2015 promised that 10 bridges in Northland would be upgraded, presumably with actual pork barrels.

National Party Housing Spokesperson Judith Collins was also quick to fire a few metaphorical shots at Housing Minister Phil Twyford over the KiwiBuild announcement. Collins seems to be relishing her role in opposition with pointed questions in the House and following the Trump playbook of sending out fiery tweets to the handful of NZ Twitter users she hasn’t blocked. And you get the feeling she’s waiting for just one or two more government missteps so that she can do a  focus group on “Make New Zealand Great Again” as a potential 2020 campaign slogan.

Collins had one of those missteps land in her lap this week with the resignation of Radio NZ’s Carol Hirschfeld over an improperly described improper meeting with Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran. They met at the Astoria Café in Wellington. It’s a highly recommended cafe, especially its new menu item “The Carol and Clare Breakfast Hash”. It comes with a side of “What The Hell Were You Thinking?” and if you want to leave a tip it would be “Don’t have a high-level meeting at Wellington’s most visible cafe”.

In fact the only thing Curran and Hirschfeld did do properly was to mess the whole thing up. A delighted National opposition showed remarkable restraint by following a subtle strategy of trying to humiliate Curran without pushing too hard so as to make her ministerial position untenable. Normally a newly-installed opposition would be looking for an early government scalp but not in this case. National probably views Curran like a broken vending machine that no-one really wants replaced because it can be relied on to deliver up free and tasty treats on a regular basis.

If you were a Russian spy you would have spluttered into your borscht at just how ineptly Curran and Hirschfeld arranged their meeting and then tried to cover it up. Only you wouldn’t have been here to splutter because there are no Russian spies in New Zealand, apparently. We’re not joining the international coalition of 27 countries expelling Russians over the nerve agent attack in the UK because we can’t find any Russian spies to expel. Five Eyes Eyebrows are being raised over that claim but that’s the advice from our own spies at the SIS, according to Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters. And if you believe that there aren’t any Russian spies in New Zealand then I can probably introduce you to a Nigerian internet financier who can make home-buying in Mt Albert very affordable.

And not only can we not throw out any Russian spies, we can’t seem to get rid of Ed Sheeran either. He’s the red everyone wants under the bed, or in it. Everyone except Hayley Holt.

From Ed Sheeran’s NZ Divide Tour to something that truly unites all New Zealanders, our loathing of Australian cricketers. We were shocked to learn that Australian cricketers had been caught cheating in South Africa. And not just caught, caught red-handed, the redness of the hands apparently caused by sandpaper abrasions. And when I say caught I mean caught on film, which they lied about on the field but then had to admit to because, again, they were caught on film, only they lied again in their admission as determined by an incomplete Cricket Australia investigation whose findings no-one really believes. And when I say we were shocked I mean we were delighted, not at all surprised, and positively overflowing with schadenfreude. I suspect there are more bouncers to be bowled in this saga but there is at least one thing that is now clear. We should probably stop booing Quade Cooper every time he touches a rugby ball. We probably won’t, but we should.

And if you were thinking of having an Easter egg hunt this weekend don’t bother. According to the SIS there are no Easter eggs.

Have a peaceful long weekend.

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