Comment

Currangate might need a Special Counsel

Yesterdaze, James Elliott's column wrapping the news of the week, wonders if Clare Curran can be contained.

Last weekend we had the combination of Easter and the end of daylight saving.

Most people followed the standard practice of putting their clocks back by an hour, but not Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust - ironically a man who can’t be trusted to write a sensible sentence. His rejoicing at the death of a man fatally shot by police suggests that he probably set his clock back to 18 February 1957, the date of New Zealand’s last hanging.

One policeman described McVicar’s comments as “unwelcome and repugnant” which is incidentally one of the new categories in Immigration NZ’s recently discovered data profiling programme that uses age, ethnicity and gender to identify troublemakers for deportation. It’s not clear who designed this profiling programme but my algorithm calculates that it was probably a middle-aged white man who wanted to name it Nonostay.

However there is one troublemaker identified by the Government who is managing to stay on despite yet more miscalculations. Clare Curran should have prepared for the week by spending her Easter at Hot Water Beach. She left a voicemail for Radio NZ chair Richard Griffin suggesting he didn’t have to attend a select committee meeting to set the record straight over the Hirschfeld debacle and that he could send a letter instead. She’s been reprimanded by Jacinda Ardern for phoning Griffin and the voicemail may now be sought by the select committee which has the power of subpoena. Any more missteps and Curran will end up as a person of interest in US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation. It’s doubly alarming when a Minister of Broadcasting suggests letter-writing should be a preferred mode of communication in 2018 and is so inept at working out when it is and isn’t okay to talk out loud.

We also learned this week there’s been asbestos and raw sewage leaching into in the walls of Middlemore Hospital. That’s up there with “US President Sleeps With Porn Star” and anything beginning “Married At First Sight Star says ….” as a headline that just shouldn’t have to be written, by anyone, ever. It’s hard to imagine a worse statement on the state of our public health system after nine years of National government.

That is until Simon Bridges started talking out loud about it. Bridges said, and I’m paraphrasing because Bridgesese is not an easy language, sure the public health system’s a mess but our not spending enough money on it shows what great economic managers we were, so yay us. That’s like saying ‘sure, we didn’t put out the fire at the orphanage, but we did give passers-by the opportunity to toast some marshmallows, so yay us’. Bridges also claimed National didn’t know about any of these specific problems in the health sector because of their “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Leave At Just The Right Time To Work In The Private Sector” policy.

So no regrets from Simon Bridges then. And just the one from John Key who said his biggest regret as Prime Minister for eight years was he couldn’t get the flag changed. Like how Field Marshal Haig regretted how muddy it was during the Battle of the Somme. Key’s biggest regret since quitting as PM could be saying what his biggest regret was when he was PM. Should be. Won’t be.

Also having trouble talking out loud this week was PM Jacinda Ardern with the government’s transport policy announcement and the fuel tax hike. It doesn’t break the “no new taxes before 2020” pledge because it’s an increase to an existing tax. Which reminds me, I didn’t break my promise not to buy any new clothes this week, I just expanded my current wardrobe. Besides, apparently it’s not even a real tax because it’s an “excise” although I’m fairly sure the effect on motorists will be pretty much the same when the increase is excised from their wallets. And it’s a hike because with the current state of our transport system the most efficient mode of commuting by 2020 will be hiking.

By the end of the week the Commonwealth Games were underway on the Gold Coast with 4th division royals Prince Charles and Camilla in attendance. The other royals couldn’t make it because they’re busy planning a wedding. And because Gold Coast. And because Commonwealth Games. Camilla was criticised for looking bored during the opening ceremony but in her defence she was attending an event whose name begins with “Common”.

We have started the Games well with some early medals in cycling. It’s heartening to see what we can achieve by cycling in a forward direction given all the back-pedalling by our politicians this week.

Have a peaceful weekend.

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