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A ‘hairy goal’ by any other name so ambitious?

David Seymour sets his sights high and his sartorial choices low in a desperate bid for ACT to get 14 MPs into Parliament. James Elliott dives into the news of the week. 

In case you missed it, and in all probability you did, the ACT party relaunched last weekend. It was one of those low key political events where the media outnumber the attendees and everyone leaves wondering what’s going to happen to the leftover sausage rolls.

Standing next to the sausage rolls so that he had everyone’s attention, ACT leader and twerker-in-chief David Seymour stressed it was more about relaunching and not rebranding. That seems about right given that all that would be involved in an ACT rebranding would be a new jacket and tie. For what it’s worth the ACT logo has been refreshed with a stripe of magenta and a tag line of “for freedom”. And in case you think you’ve seen that combination of bold colour stripe and freedom tagline before, you have. It was Mel Gibson’s get-up and catchphrase in Braveheart and my recollection is that it didn’t end well for him, either. And just a footnote that the colour magenta signifies universal harmony and emotional balance. So while ACT lacks a lot of things like polling support above the margin of error, he doesn’t lack a sense of irony.

He also doesn’t lack optimism, setting what he described as a “hairy goal” of getting 14 MPs into Parliament in the next election. The message there is that if you find yourself as 14th on the ACT party list next year you will be going back to your day job on Monday 23 November 2020. Incidentally that’s the same message if you’re anywhere between 2nd and 13th on the ACT party list next year.  

In terms of policy, ACT is leaping into the free vs hate speech debate because of course he is. He plans to introduce a Freedom to Speak Bill. Query whether he’ll remember to turn up to vote like he failed to do in April with his Freedom to Shoot opposition to the new gun laws. And he may have an ally on the free speech issue with Coalition NZ. On Tuesday Facebook took down an advertisement by Brian Tamaki speaking out against the expansion of a Muslim school in particular, and Islam, because of course he did. I can’t imagine what an ACT Coalition NZ coalition would look like but the jackets will be a sight to behold. More to the point I can’t imagine what an ACT Coalition NZ coalition voter would look like but that too will be a sight to behold.  

Key spent the better part of a decade as Prime Minister being ‘not bothered’ by a range of things but finally got his chance to be bothered about something.

And what of Coalition NZ itself? Well, this week Coalition NZ retweeted a tweet by Hannah Tamaki that asked “Who is new Coalition NZ party leader Hannah Tamaki?

Back in the real world a lot of media attention this week was devoted to the departure of ANZ Bank CEO David Hisco. This news was announced by ANZ Bank Chairman Sir John Key.

Key spent the better part of a decade as Prime Minister being ‘not bothered’ by a range of things but finally got his chance to be bothered about something. In this case the expenses claimed by the bank’s CEO. So it was a Surly John Key who announced that CEO David Hisco was leaving the bank “by mutual agreement” following the discovery of what were described as ‘anomalies’ in expenses claimed by Hisco totalling tens of thousands of dollars and going back over nine years.

If you’re a CEO earning $3 million a year and it’s discovered that there are anomalies in your expenses then you really need them to be for things like running shoes for a charity fun run, not wine storage and chauffeur-driven cars.

Those expenses include wine storage and the use of chauffeur-driven cars. The handling of Hisco’s departure left many unanswered questions such as – was any of his wine delivered to storage in a chauffeur driven car?

If you’re a CEO earning $3 million a year and it’s discovered that there are anomalies in your expenses then you really need them to be for things like running shoes for a charity fun run, not wine storage and chauffeur-driven cars. Those are expenses items that aren’t going to play well with the rank and file, much like poodle pedicures and personal pillow plumpers.

And if you’re chair of a bank who’s just discovered significant anomalies in your CEO’s expenses you’re probably quietly relieved that they are for wine storage and chauffeur-driven cars. That’s because that headline tends to take precedence over the previous week’s headline that the ANZ Bank had been censured by the Reserve Bank for the “major breach” of failing to properly calculate its risk over a period of five years.

Finally, I did some research into the world of wine storage for this column and one such business advertises one of the benefits of its wine storage service as Temptation Restraint, with the tagline “Understandably the biggest villain in premature consumption of your wine is you.” Pay attention ACT, if you’re trying to persuade people to do something against their better judgment that’s how you do it.

Have a peaceful weekend. 

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