Yesterdaze: Maybe Mexico can pay for the Harbour Bridge

James Elliott realises John Tamihere's uncosted bridge proposal wasn't actually a metaphor, but an example of 'folks is mighty generous with money what they ain’t got'

Winston Peters may have been the one having minor surgery on his leg this week but it was Paula Bennett who got knifed when Winston described her gift of “get well” daffodils as “seriously bad taste”. I’m assuming that’s bad taste in the metaphorical sense of poor form and not a case of post-operative anesthetically-confused munchies. Paula would have been better off giving Winston the traditional gift to a hospital patient, grapes; preferably Chardonnay grapes that have been crushed, put through malolactic fermentation and aged in oak barrels for several years.     

From minor surgery to party leadership on life-support, National’s Simon Bridges threw out a few metaphors of his own this week. When Jacinda Arden was criticised in Australian media for implying at the Pacific Island Forum that Australia wasn’t pulling its weight in fighting climate change, Simon said he wasn’t sure we should “throw stones in glass houses”. I’m not sure Simon should be throwing out such tired metaphors. In fact I’m not even sure it’s the appropriate metaphor anyway – shouldn’t it be greenhouses if we’re talking about climate change? And if you’re referencing Australia with your metaphor shouldn’t you be referring to something Australians are familiar with? So next time Simon wants to pot Jacinda for criticising Australia he should use that well known Belizean saying “Don’t call the crocodile a big-mouth till you have crossed the river”.

Later in the week Simon was on more familiar home turf when he dismissed the Government’s proposal to establish an independent Parliamentary Budget Office as “screwing the scrum”. There’s nothing like kicking for touch with a rugby metaphor to show that you’re no political pushover and won’t be blind-sided by a quick tap from the opposition. To be fair Grant Robertson’s proposal was a bit of a punt and Simon’s charge-down wasn’t altogether unexpected although Grant did say he was hugely disappointed in Simon “playing politics”. I confess that I’m always slightly confused when politicians put down other politicians by accusing those other politicians of playing politics. If not politics then I’m not sure what game it is that they’re supposed to be playing. And as they say in Guinea, one camel does not make fun of another camel’s hump.   

Next time Simon wants to pot Jacinda for criticising Australia he should use that well known Belizean saying “Don’t call the crocodile a big-mouth till you have crossed the river”.

Meanwhile in the Auckland mayoral race John Tamihere wasn’t talking in metaphors when perhaps he should have been. I assumed his uncosted proposal for a two-level harbour bridge with 10 car lanes, four rail-tracks, two walkways and two cycleways was just a metaphor for a transport policy connecting all parts of the city with smart and efficient modes of transport. Turns out I was wrong. Turns out he was actually proposing a two-level harbour bridge with 10 car lanes, four rail-tracks, two walkways and two cycleways. There’s more than a whiff of Trumpist tactics in Tamihere’s mayoral campaign so at this point he may as well go all in and pledge that Mexico’s going to pay for the new bridge. They can use all that money they’ve got left over from not paying for Trump’s southern border wall.

The incumbent Phil Goff was quick to slam Tamihere’s proposal claiming it would cost $10 billion and would bankrupt Auckland city. As he might have said if he was from any of the US southern states and living in the pages of a John Steinbeck novel “folks is mighty generous with money what they ain’t got”.       

Perhaps transport infrastructure can be funded by the folks who have got quite a bit of the money we used to have and ain’t got anymore, the petrol companies. A draft Commerce Commission report was released during the week confirming that the fuel industry is not as competitive as it should be and that we’re paying too much for petrol. Jacinda Ardern was more plainspoken in her assessment, saying that we have been “fleeced” on petrol prices for a decade and her government is apparently “ready to act”. “Fleeced” is a strong term if you go with the accepted definition of being deprived of money by a fraud, hoax or a swindle. Jacinda used “fleeced” several times in her remarks on the report including the assurance that the government would not stand by as we continue to be fleeced. That sounds like a promise to me but as they say in Germany, a promise is a bridge of words, unsafe to walk across.            

And while we wait for the Prime Minister to make good on that promise, various media outlets have come out with tips on how to be more economical with your petrol spend. No doubt it’s well intended but as they say in China it is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles if the result is twins.                                           

Have a peaceful weekend.

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