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Yesterdaze: Fake steaks and one real beef

James Elliott looks back on a week of impossible burgers, appealing the unappealing and an unsavoury two-week report card

Monday was World UFO Day, described as a festival of all things extra-terrestrial. Never one to miss a marketing opportunity the national carrier Air New Zealand marked the day by launching their own unidentifiable flying object, the ‘Impossible Burger’, made from ‘plant-based patties’. And no you can’t get fries with that because apparently the tuber-based fatties don’t ‘hold up well in the air’. But do keep an eye out for Air New Zealand’s next promotion, the Mystery Steak ‘n’ Break. 

There is in fact a detailed list of the Impossible Burger patty’s ingredients but I didn’t read them before I made the decision to write about the Impossible Burger because I asked myself what wouldn’t Kelvin Davis do? The aptly portfolioed Corrections Minister was forced to issue a correction and clarification at the weekend as to whether and/or when he had read a Ministry of Justice report into projected prison populations before deciding to build a smaller prison at Waikeria. And it’s fair to say he made quite a meal of that clarification – with a healthy serving of fudge.    

Acting PM Winston Peters was one of several politicians who chimed in on the Impossible Burger debate declaring that he was "utterly opposed to fake beef". To prove his point, Peters continued his very real beef with the AM Show.

So far Winston’s only attacked a vegetable hamburger, embarked on a petty feud with a breakfast TV show, and accused Australia of breaching international law.

Perhaps realising that their six-week ban of Peters for lateness was itself a nothing burger, the AM Show lifted their ban only for Peters to do a no-show and appear on Sky News Australia instead. For those still adjusting to life without Dancing With The Stars if you want to see Winston Peters and Duncan Garner settle their feud with a dance battle on TV3’s new show ‘Crumpin’ with Duncan’, please text ‘WINSTON’ to 3333.  

And do also spare a thought for those doing the double of tackling Dry July and still adjusting to life with Winston as Acting PM. He’s been in the role for just over two weeks, despite some predictions the earth is still rotating on its axis and the sky has not fallen. So far Winston’s only attacked a vegetable hamburger, embarked on a petty feud with a breakfast TV show, accused Australia of breaching international law and is on the defensive over an inquiry into the appointment of the Deputy Police Commissioner and former NZ First candidate Wally Haumaha. We’re only two weeks into his six-week stint as Acting PM so this is just the entrée. The mains have yet to come but they should be tasty.  

Also in the extra-terrestrial category this week were the Government’s eligibility criteria for buying a KiwiBuild home.  The income cap for couples is $180k, and $120k for a sole buyer.  Those caps mean that 92 percent of first home buyers will be eligible to buy a KiwiBuild home. And that’s a slather of a fairly open variety if what you’re trying to achieve is home ownership for lower and middle income earners. If you’re going to be in a group of people that’s eligible for something, you want that group to be somewhat smaller than just about everybody - particularly if the group is all income earners. Put it this way, if you’re reading this you’re technically eligible for selection for the All Blacks or the Black Ferns but that doesn’t mean you should be buying tickets for your family and friends to come to the next test match.

I know that there were occasions in my own legal career when I should have spoken out and should have taken a stand against what so obviously wasn’t right. I should have. I didn’t. Never again.          

Kim Dotcom probably isn’t eligible for a KiwiBuild home but he is eligible for extradition to the United States according to a Court of Appeal decision this week. In case you’d forgotten, and most of us probably have, that saga is still rumbling on. But don’t expect any sightings of Dotcom in the skies over US territory any time soon. Dotcom is appealing the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court. And if he loses in the Supreme Court it’s up to the then-Justice Minister as to whether he should be extradited. And if the Justice Minister decides that he should be gone burger then he can challenge that decision in the courts and if he doesn’t like that court decision he can appeal that. And if he appeals that decision then provided he’s still paying his lawyers, those lawyers will be able to buy a lot of houses, and hamburgers.

To say that it wasn’t a great week for lawyers is a massive understatement. Dame Margaret Bazley’s damning report into law firm Russell McVeagh brought into the open a catalogue of behaviours that have plagued the legal profession for decades. And of course these behaviours are not just limited to law firms but I can only speak here to my own experience having been admitted to the bar in 1990 and having worked at a number of law firms here and abroad, including Russell McVeagh. I know that there were occasions in my own legal career when I should have spoken out and should have taken a stand against what so obviously wasn’t right. I should have. I didn’t. Never again.                      

Have a peaceful weekend.

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