Jacinda: You’ll find me in the Koru Lounge

James Elliott suggests it might be time for Simon Bridges to turn to AI for answers and for the Prime Minister to move her meetings to the Koru Lounge.

Trade Me announced this week that it's expanding its use of AI (artificial intelligence) to make better predictions about what you might be interested in buying based on your previous purchases and searches.

I know it’s intended to be helpful but it makes it challenging for me to explain why a pair of size 38 Rubi high-heels is at the top of my “you might be interested in this” list.

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one struggling with explanations and in need of their own AI this week.                       

Simon Bridges was challenged to explain why he met with Guo Shengkun on his recent visit to China. Who Guo Shengkun is and what he does depends on who you ask. If you ask experts on Chinese politics they will tell you that he’s the head of China’s secret police.

And if you ask Simon, he’ll tell you that Guo Shengkun is effectively a Chinese minister and justice and law and order spokesperson. To be fair those descriptions could well be two sides of the same coin.

Simon was pretty tetchy about the whole thing and with good cause when he copped some friendly-fire from his own spokesperson who wouldn’t say if Simon was aware of Guo’s links to Chinese secret police, but did say that the visit to China was paid for out of Simon’s Leader’s budget.

I don’t have a lot of – okay, I don’t have any - experience as a political spokesperson but I’m fairly sure that you don’t answer a question that isn’t about who paid for what by volunteering who paid for what.

For a start, who paid for someone to go somewhere runs a distant second to the significance of where they went. If you went to a Justin Bieber concert it doesn’t matter who paid for that, the point is that you will be judged on the fact that you went to a Justin Bieber concert.

But now Simon’s spokesperson has us thinking about who paid for what, it’s reasonable to query whether his trip to China was even necessary in the first place.

Surely, he didn’t need to go all the way to China to be seen as having a connection with one of China’s secretive state agencies. All he had to do was pay a visit to Jian Yang, National’s own list MP and former spy trainer and civilian officer in the Chinese military.

And, further on the “who paid for what?” question, who paid for the extra translator to translate Simon’s ‘Simon says’ from As-Kiwi-as into English before it could then be translated into Mandarin?  

There was certainly no need for a translator when Simon spoke directly to the media about their questioning of his Chinese trip.

Simon said: “To run the sort of woke line that some of you love so much on Twitter, that somehow means we shouldn't be visiting and we shouldn't be having a relationship with a superpower that we trade more with than any other country in the world, I think is pretty irresponsible.”

While Simon was roasting Twitter, Jacinda Ardern was hosting it, in the form of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey who was here for the “Christchurch Call” discussions on how to eliminate terrorist content from social media platforms.

Jacinda’s meeting with Jack was described as timely as she prepares to head to New York next week to attend the United Nations General Assembly and follow up on progress on the Christchurch Call initiatives.

From Jacinda’s point of view, the sequencing of those events is not as timely as it could be.

She would probably be quite happy having a 7-day meeting with Jack concluding in the Koru Lounge just before she boarded her flight to New York.

And if Jack can’t stay that long she would be happy to meet anyone else in the Koru Lounge during the next few days to discuss anything. Literally anyone and anything to avoid having to front to media and Opposition questions over the growing scandal of sexual assault allegations against a Labour parliamentary staffer.

However, if you listen carefully you can hear the soft hiss of the 'Jacindamania' balloon slowly deflating.

If there’s one question the media and political opponents like better than, “Who paid for what?” it’s, “Who knew what, and when?”.

This question has been met with an uncomfortable silence by those in the know, those claiming not to be in the know and those claiming not to know who’s in the know or not.

However, if you listen carefully you can hear the soft hiss of the 'Jacindamania' balloon slowly deflating.

On Wednesday Labour Party president Nigel Haworth fell on a sword that someone else had put in position for him to fall onto, but that’s not going to put a stop to the questions.

In the greater scheme of things, Haworth’s a pawn or at best a rook, and these inquisitors have made it quite clear that they’re after the queen.

No doubt there’s more than one or two in Labour’s leadership ranks who will claim that they’re not superstitious but who are secretly hoping they can ride out what remains of Black Friday. 

Have a peaceful weekend.

Help us create a sustainable future for independent local journalism

As New Zealand moves from crisis to recovery mode the need to support local industry has been brought into sharp relief.

As our journalists work to ask the hard questions about our recovery, we also look to you, our readers for support. Reader donations are critical to what we do. If you can help us, please click the button to ensure we can continue to provide quality independent journalism you can trust.


Newsroom does not allow comments directly on this website. We invite all readers who wish to discuss a story or leave a comment to visit us on Twitter or Facebook. We also welcome your news tips and feedback via email: Thank you.

With thanks to our partners