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21 October 2005

A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays

Our Very Own Government

So finally, we have a government. Chronologically it was inevitable that all those breathless media predictions that we would have a government within days had to be correct eventually. But what sort of government, and for how long, we hear you ask?

Well, we will have the sort of government that is focused on the really big issues of our time: how to keep possession of the ministerial residences, the chauffeur-driven limousines and the international ministerial travel budgets. The issues which burn in the souls of average, everyday (and yes, possibly even mainstream) New Zealanders.

And how successful will this government be at achieving its primary goal of staying in office? Well self-interest will keep the various players holding hands for a while. And then that same self-interest on the part of some of the smaller players will see the whole show come crashing down. It’s going to be really really ugly when it happens.

In summary, for practitioners of the art of shooting fish as they swim round and round the barrel, this government will be near perfect. And for the public, the political target practice will make for an interesting spectacle for a while.

But dark clouds are starting to accumulate on the economic horizon. Everyone from the Reserve Bank Governor, to the trade organisations, to the large retailers are starting to pick stormier times ahead. And in stormy seas, those intent upon merely trading water run a serious risk of inhaling vast quantities of water. And eventually sinking.

We at the worldwide headquarters of are picking that some time in the back half of 2006, New Zealanders are going to get heartily sick of swallowing water. That’s the point where they are going to get even more heartily sick of a government which has set its sights no higher than trying to tread water. And that’s when things will start to get really interesting.

To the Gallows

The decision to prop up the Sisterhood’s administration for its dying days was always going to have terminal consequences for New Zealand First and United Future. For UF Leader Peter Dunne, the deal with Labour signals not just the end for his party in Parliament this term, but potentially the beginning of the end of his hold on the seat of Ohariu Belmont. But at least his two colleagues can be counted on to march loyally towards the gallows for the full three years. Meanwhile over at New Zealand First……?

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs

Senior NZ First MPs like Peter Brown, Ron Mark and Brian Donnelly were literally gutted when Peters made his now infamous Rotorua speech. Whatever the outcome of the election, they were convinced that Ministerial warrants would be theirs for the taking. The Rotorua commitment to sit on the cross benches, eschewing the baubles of power, truly rankled. So, just imagine their reactions when it was revealed that their leader had not only opted for the baubles of office which they had been denied, he had negotiated for himself sole custody of the bauble factory, scoring three years of unlimited first-class international travel as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The decision to appoint a Minister in charge of New Zealand’s relationships with the whole of the rest of the world who will not actually sit in the Cabinet Room is, to say the least, innovative. Some would say daring. Here at the worldwide headquarters the expression “completely barking mad” springs rapidly to mind. So let’s just hypothesise that sanity has prevailed and that Mr Peters is not actually going to take charge of our relationships with other nations. What, then, is the actual plan?

According to this scenario, the cunning Mr Peters is not the slightest bit interested in re-shaping our relationships with other nations – but very interested indeed in another component of the job: the power of the Foreign Minister to appoint High Commissioners and Ambassadors to overseas posts. Because he currently presides over a caucus of seven MPs who now have three years to find, as they say, alternative career opportunities.

So will it be His Excellency Mr Ron Mark, Ambassador to Bangladesh? His Excellency Mr Brown High Commissioner to Canada ( a nation which New Zealand, for some unfathomable reason, has detested for several decades, and conveyed this disapprobation through the quality of its diplomatic appointments, culminating in the current appointment of former trade unionist and recent public embarrassment His Excellency Mr Graham Kelly).

Will we have HE Mr Donnelly, Permanent Representative at the International Whaling Commission? And after everyone else has followed Dover Samuels and turned it down, HE Mr Doug Woolerton, High Commissioner to Niue? Then the granddaddy of them all: on the eve of the next election, His Excellency Rt Hon Winston Peters, High Commissioner to the Cook Islands?

So fear not readers. Our new Foreign Affairs Minister may not be about to commit us to dangerous new military alliances or disadvantageous trade pacts. Or even to declare war on Tonga. No. More likely he will simply occupy himself with providing suitable board and lodging for the politically downtrodden and soon-to-be dispossessed. Which is all totally in accord with established political tradition.


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