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Lyndon Hood: "April Fool!" - Govt

"April Fool!" - Govt

Satire by Lyndon Hood

A broad selection of policies and laws that were expected to come into force today have been revealed to be an elaborate April Fools joke. In a running series of press conferences changes to taxation, social welfare and drug control were announced to be hoaxes - the product of an informal competition between ministers to see who can produce the most incredible policy.

The joke was initially revealed by Finance Minister Michael Cullen. While discussing the 3% drop in the company tax rate, introduction of credits for Kiwisaver and R&D, and changes to the charitable donation regime, Dr Cullen burst into a fit of giggles.

"April Fool!" he declared, "You're no more going to get a tax cut out of us than a straight answer to an oral parliamentary question!"

He then collapsed with mirth, slapping the podium repeatedly.

In the next stage of the hilarity, CPI adjustments to benefits and student allowances were also revoked. Social Welfare Minister Ruth Dyson commented in a silly, high-pitched voice to indicate sarcasm, saying "I'm the Labour Government. I actually care about whether the benefit is enough to live on!"

Jim Anderton was more down-to-earth on the unbanning of BZP party pills. "Honestly," he told the reports, many of whom were by then doubled up with amazed laughter, "Since when did prohibition work?"

Anderton added that all BZP pills handed in to authorities in advance of the ban would be "sent to Afghanistan to help keep our boys off the P".

One of the most elaborate April Fools jokes ever, the prank could not have been completed without the assistance of the other parties in Parliament. They also got in on the act: Along with the expected increase in the minimum wage, Sue Bradford's Minimum Wage (New Entrants) Amendment Bill has been revealed to be an elaborate fiction. National's proposal to not merely keep student loans interest-free but to give people money for paying them off is also clearly a joke.

The assembled members of the press gallery took the announcements in good spirit, with many cries of "you got me!" and much slapping of foreheads throughout the day.

"They got us good," declared one anonymous journo, "Especially the tax cuts. I mean, haven't we spent years saying it was logically impossible for Michael Cullen to give out tax cuts? We of all people should have realised."

"I hope it doesn't happen again. There should be some sort of organisation that found out the truth behind what politicians say. That would be a great help to the press gallery."

The have been negative responses from some who had structured their plans around the projected policies. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister describe these people as having "no sense of humour".

In other news, some time in the next few hours Robert Mugabe is expected to claim victory in the Zimbabwe election.

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