2010 Hindsight: A One-Eyed Review
2010 HINDSIGHT: A one-eyed review of events of the year, based loosely on true stories, Twitter, and the author's imagination
By David Thompson
In summer silly-season news, German tourist Hans Kubus is sentenced for attempting to smuggle out 44 geckos and skinks in his underwear. The Judge rejects Kubus’s defence that he had spent too long around badly dressed male bathers and had simply mistranslated the term “budgie-smuggler”.
Meanwhile, in what will later be
seen as a pre-emptive strike against WikiLeaks, the US
Defense Department reveals the whereabouts in Afghanistan of
our SAS, including media-shy hero, Colonel Willie Apiata,
The heavily advertised but seemingly cursed Telecom XT network crashes yet again in the South Island and lower half of the North Island. CEO Paul Reynolds fronts apology showing why an honest-sounding Scottish accent and silver hair are worth 5 million a year. Asked to comment on rumours that special forces have been called in to put men on the ground, the SAS will confirm only that Willie Apiata is deployed “somewhere south of Taupo”.
In overseas news, the America’s Cup is finally decided by two actual boats sailing a race. Race is criticised as a stunt and a sideshow detracting from the noble sport of litigation.
Elected regional council Environment Canterbury (ECan) is sacked and replaced by a board of appointees headed by government fix-it woman Dame Margaret Bazley. Government claims it is merely removing vexatious obstacles to overturning water conservation orders, such as due process and the judiciary. Constitutional lawyers break into cold sweat.
In sports and entertainment news, the Academy Awards are announced. Although nominee Matt Damon misses out for 1995 Rugby World Cup movie Invictus, Sandra Bullock wins best actress for The Blind Side, while best picture goes to The Hurt Locker. Martin Snedden and 2011 Rugby World Cup officials read the latter title as a reference to Ali Williams’ injury woes and praise the overdue interest in the centrality of rugby to world cinema, just 18 months out from the most important sporting tournament of all time. An angry Snedden denies that the nation is obsessed with the Cup.
pops up in United Nations Assembly in a Maori Television
exclusive to pledge New Zealand commitment to the
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Clearly
The same hymn book, the Maori Party extols the DRIP to its supporters as the highest form of politics: “pure aspiration”; while the National Party reassures its supporters that the DRIP is toothless and non-binding: “pure aspiration”. PM denies breaching “no surprises” agreement with ACT and tells Rodney Hide to keep his hair on.
In international news, BP oil well explodes, killing 11 and spewing millions of litres of crude into Gulf of Mexico. Company reassures dying sea-life and ruined coastal communities that “It’s a small spill on a big table” and immediately activates emergency procedure to plug well with shredded remains of thousands of suppressed internal safety warnings.
Controversial Three Strikes Bill passes into law, championed by ACT Law and Order spokesman David Garrett and fans of baseball everywhere.
PM vetoes any return to Tuhoe of Te Urewera National Park, thus saving Cabinet the bother. Recalling 19th-century confiscations and 2007 terror raids on busloads of small but potentially lethal children, Tuhoe feel an eerie sense of deja vu all over again.
Public march against opening Conservation Estate Schedule IV land to mining. Gerry Brownlee continues to exhort nation to dig for victory. Nation wins. Actress and Greenpeace activist Robyn Malcolm picks up late OSCAR for Best Performance in a Protest.
MPs’ credit card and travel spending announced to taxpayer outrage. Big spender Chris Carter wins some sympathy for showing that at least $74.99 of his outgoings went on sending flowers to his bereaved partner.
Mayor of Manukau, Len Brown, throws fit of remorse on television for his own credit card excesses and offers to set himself on fire. Asked whether this is a good idea, Brown’s supercity mayoralty rival, John Banks, says “Len clearly needs to work through the issue and should do whatever he has to do.”
TVNZ gameshow-style anniversary celebration “Cheers to 50 Years” is panned by critics. TVNZ clarifies that panning is a camera term.
In Trans-Tasman news, Kevin Rudd disappears from office overnight. Rudd is last heard asking “What’s that steel thing in my back and where the bloody hell’s Ju---?”
In wider international developments, John Key is revealed to be in secret talks with China to swap kiwis for pandas. Green co-leader Russell Norman, fresh from scuffle with Chinese security guards at Beehive, accuses Key of pandaring to human rights violators.
Chris Carter baffles public relations consultants and mental health experts by apparently suicidal tip-off letter warning of Labour leadership coup against Phil Goff. Letter is in Carter’s characteristic handwriting and personally delivered to the Beehive messengers’ room across 200 metres of the most video-surveyed floor space in the country. Carter claims he would have said it with flowers but InterFlora had revoked his credit card.
In international news, Kevin Rudd recovers in hospital after surgical removal of the Julia Gillard. Meanwhile, Commodore Frank Bainimarama of Fiji describes Australia and New Zealand as neocolonial bullies. Commodore threatens to further stretch out the hectic schedule leading to elections in 2014 because of public’s unacceptable expressions of opinions other than his own.
BP admits burst oil well will continue to spew for at least another month. In PR disaster before Senate Committee, BP’s CEO succeeds only in alienating American people further by saying that he’d love to stay and apologise, chaps, but is urgently due to spend throw a birthday party on his million-pound yacht, wot? BP Board draws up dismissal papers and head-hunts Paul Reynolds for future apologies.
In spirit of biculturalism, Hone Harawira voices discomfort at the thought of his children ever dating Pakeha.
Heather Roy, ACT deputy and ex-Territorial, seems to sabotage her leader in public and then complains of being bullied by him. Hide flexes ironman torso and denies ever having bullied anyone, including 1 million Aucklanders. In tense and bizarre television appearance Hide and Roy make up but are swift to deny their relationship is rosy, apparently fearing rumours of romance. Hide later privately remarks that he hasn’t felt this uncomfortable with a woman since Dancing with the Stars.
In sports news, All Blacks sweep Tri Nations and look one of the best sides ever. Grim-faced rugby officials fear the team has peaked early just 13 months before the only tournament that matters, on which hangs the self-esteem of a nation.
In Chile, 33 trapped copper miners are found to be contactable through 9 centimetre shaft left intact. Necessaries of life lowered to them include 33 mini-bibles, Prozac for if the bibles don’t work, and contracts for the film rights. Miners swear solemn oath of brotherhood on the bibles pledging that if they get out alive they will share any film proceeds equally. In clear breach of diplomatic protocol and OSH guidelines, Gerry Brownlee exhorts miners to dig for victory, bringing as much copper as they can carry.
In a busy news month, the financial collapse of South Canterbury is followed by seismic collapse of whole province. Government bails out South Canterbury investors on comparative “no-fault” basis but promises to sick SFO onto Indo-Australian and Pacific Plates. Paramedics rush to resuscitate Rugby World Cup venue but it has mercifully been spared. Parliament unanimously rushes into law the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill, making Gerry Brownlee de facto emperor. As a result, agitated constitutional lawyers now become delirious and are rushed to hospital.
David Garrett admits stealing the identity of a dead baby but claims it is the kind of youthful indiscretion that all 26-year-old lawyers are prone to. Garrett strikes out.
Overseas, the Commonwealth Games are under threat. Taking ownership of the problem, India blames Pakistan and deploys three zillion soldiers to save the Games from insurgents, many of them believed to be disguised as corrupt tradespeople, King Cobras or food-borne diseases. NZ offers to send three Hercules, Dame Margaret Bazley and Willie Apiata if we can find him. Indians reply that they would be happy with Paul Henry’s head on a plate. Games go ahead but NZ flag-bearer Irene van Dyk leads Kiwi athletes straight out of stadium during opening ceremony.
Paralysed by indecisiveness, Australia is unable to correctly name the winner of either Australia’s Next Top Model or the general election, or to provide any mechanism for breaking a tie in the Aussie League finals. Commodore Bainimarama explains that this is exactly the trouble with giving the people choices and offers to invade to restore order.
Among the loved ones standing vigil at the Chilean mine, the sobbing wife and mistress of miner Yonni Barios discover each other’s existence and find they, too, have been shafted. Tears turn to rage.
Another busy month. As income tax cuts and GST rise kick in, Labour pledges to remove GST on fruit and vegetables. Although Phil Goff denies that drawing the line would be unworkably complex, he cannot answer whether tomatoes, being arguably both fruit and vegetable, will have the tax removed twice.
Paul Henry resigns; a nation yawns in mourning.
In local body elections, voters lack patience to read all the way through long alphabetical lists of candidates they have never heard of. Landslide victory follows for The Party of Candidates Whose Surnames Begin With A, B or C. In Auckland, Len Brown funkily raps John Banks into defeat, while anti-anti-smacking campaigner Colin Craig marches his way into a confused third.
Phil Goff bravely refuses to sell foreigners our farmland on the basis that if we can no longer afford ourselves they shouldn’t be able to either. Meanwhile, John “The Dealmaker” Key is perfectly happy to sell our legislative sovereignty to the head office of Warner Bros for the Hobbit movies, blaming actors’ unions. Already-delirious constitutional lawyers deteriorate further upon this news. Hospital press release claims the lawyers are in a “stable and satisfactory condition”, terrifying everyone who understands medical euphemisms, since this clearly means that they are comatose but just not complaining about the food.
In a stunning role reversal, Robyn Malcolm experiences slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to become second most hated woman in NZ after Helen Kelly.
In sports news, at the Commonwealth Games Australia “medals” 177 times but New Zealand medals only 36 times, proving that (a) Australia is bigger than us and (b) in English any noun can be verbed. Silver Ferns medal gold after van Dyk locates stadium. All Blacks lose to Wallabies, ending second longest winning streak ever. Gloom descends over nation as loss confirms bad omens for the Cup.
Media frenzy and mass hysteria as all Chilean miners freed, although the disgraced Yonni Barios first insists on a non-molestation order. Brotherhood of The Thirty-Three immediately defect from pact to share film rights equally, blaming intolerable pressure from human nature.
Repealed Foreshore and Seabed Act returns cunningly disguised as Marine and Coastal Areas Bill. Now, instead of everyone owning the foreshore, no-one does. Constitutional lawyers, the only people who could have explained the difference, remain too sick to elucidate. All sides claim victory. Maori Party’s de facto whip, Aunty Tariana, leans on Hone Harawira to support the Bill because it is the party’s raison d’etre. Harawira points out that raison d’etre is a French term and huffs that he will not give carte blanche to his children to form liaisons or even rendezvous with pesky Frenchies.
In the US mid-term elections, the Tea Party – the party that is not a party, based on economics that is not economics – pledges to crowd hundreds of its candidates into government in order to reduce the size of government. In the event, Tea Party candidates do swing the House of Representatives republican, but the fruits of victory turn to ashes in their mouths as they realise that a nuclear arsenal big enough to bomb Iran back to the Stone Age cannot be financed by grassroots charitable donations, and may instead require actual taxation. Controversial Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell blames her defeat on a media witch-hunt.
Teachers prepare to die in a ditch over National Standards, which they fear could lead to league tables, collapse of Western civilisation and at worst even demystification of educational gobbledygook.
SAS uber-mensch Willie Apiata is revealed to have been sold like a Popsicle for the entertainment of various high-end businessmen. Outrage follows at the extraordinarily low fee of $500 per head. Finance Minister Bill English orders immediate inquiry into charging regime.
In sports news, non-power crazed government of non-rugby obsessed nation passes World Cup Empowering Act. Act prospectively grants Murray McCully emergency powers to non-judicially review his own Rugby World Cup Authority’s decisions in event that Gerry Brownlee cannot justify this under earthquake recovery legislation. Reading through double negatives, and provoked by previous knee-jerk, populist reforms by Simon “Absolute” Power, some lawyers speculate that Cabinet merely wants to save more money on judiciary and look tough. Power points out that speculation is idle and provocation is no longer a defence to it or to anything else, instead urging lawyers to exercise the right to silence while they still have it. In Suva, Commodore Bainimarama smirks.
Perspective is tragically restored by another terrestrial disaster in the South Island, this time a mining disaster without the kind of miraculous rescue that delivered 33 survivors in Chile. A shocked nation grieves for 29 men killed at Pike River mine. Two years late and tens of millions of dollars over budget, the mine had just begun producing coal when a series of explosions ripped through it. The inquiries will run for years, and the future of underground mining in New Zealand is in the balance.
In a busy month for science reporters, worldwide weather mayhem hits the news again as Earth’s temperature continues to rise everywhere – everywhere except, that is, at the actual international climate conference in Cancun, Mexico. Extreme weather events nevertheless make the phrases Global Warming and Climate Change continue to sound less and less balmy or indeed barmy, although the phrase Emissions Trading Scheme sounds no more comprehensible. Unimpressed by all this hot air, ACT’s new deputy and arch climate sceptic John Boscawen still considers that 95% of scientists are using broken thermometers.
Meanwhile, two discoveries are announced as “encouraging” for humanity’s survival and indeed domination of the universe. First, extremophile microbes have allegedly been found thriving in a lake of, basically, diluted arsenic in the California desert. Second, theoretical physicists using a new and improved theory that corrects for earlier rounding errors have just theorised that thousands of extra, potentially arsenic-hospitable planets may theoretically exist a mere zillion light years from our own galaxy. Anyone hearing that the future of the species relies on connecting these two dots can be forgiven for being afraid, very afraid.
On an up note, and as a
combined Christmas goodwill gesture and get-well gift to
constitutional lawyers, government issues diktat that
extraordinary powers of Dame Margaret Bazley’s
Commissioners, Warner Bros in-house counsel, Gerry Brownlee
and Murray McCully will be surrendered from midnight on 1st
January to sole authority that New Zealanders still trust: