SIMON J BRIDGES
SUNDAY, 18 MARCH, 2018
New National Party leader and recent NCEA graduate Simon Bridges has today announced when National retain the government benches in 2020 one of the first things they will do is create a Ministry of Reckons. Bridges made the announcement at a press conference held in Takapuna this afternoon.
“For too long,” he told the gathered person from the media, “we have had so many thoughts and ideas expressed by our friends in the National’s media that are ignored by this Labour-led government.”
“Common sense is what we need,” said Bridges, “too often regulations, rules and other things that keep us safe don’t make any sense to those of us who don’t follow them anyway.”
Mr Bridges continued. “Take Mike Hosking, for example. Every morning he sits down for breakfast with the nation and tells them what to think. He is a great mind with amazing reckons. Mike earns a cool million a year and drives around in a late-model European supercar. What better person is there to represent the down-to-earth reckons of the working New Zealander?”
Bridges also pointed out that Hosking’s wife Kate Hawkesby would be good to have on board because there’s nothing better than “wife reckons.”
Bridges’ plan would set up a ministry to draw from the vast range of reckons that are published as clickbait by Stuff and NZME. He said quite often these reckons made absolute sense and fitted very nicely with where he believed the National Party was heading. Reckons would be turned into a range of policies by a huge team of public servants who were being, up until the 2017 election, politically trained to side with the National Party on all issues.
Bridges reckoned the Ministry of Reckons would become something to be reckoned with.
New National Party defence spokesman and failed leadership hopeful Mark Mitchell has this week come out firing against his cabinet counterpart Ron Mark.
Mark, who lives in the Wairarapa, is accused of using the Air Force as his own personal taxi service. Mitchell held a press conference earlier this week where he released a statement expressing his total and complete outrage at Mark’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law.
Mitchell referenced two trips the minister took from the Wairarapa to events he was officiating at. The National Party spokesman said in this day and age it was an absolute disgrace that someone of Mark’s experience would destroy the Air Force in such a way.
“I’m astounded,” said Mr Mitchell, “that someone from a new government would be so completely appalling and corrupt. I find this utterly detestable.”
Mitchell denied the press release had anything to do with boosting his nationwide profile in the wake of his dismal performance in the National Party leadership campaign. Rumour has it, as with many millions of New Zealanders, almost 78% of his National Party colleagues hadn’t heard of Mitchell prior to the leadership campaign.
“This has nothing to do with that,” said Mitchell, “and everything to do with the other stuff that I was talking about. You know. Ron Mark and the helicopter.”
When asked whether Mark’s use of the Air Force was as abhorrent as someone being a paid mercenary who killed scores of people during his time in the Middle East, Mitchell was seen running from the press conference with his fingers in his ears saying, “nya nyaaa nyaa nyaaa. I can’t hear you.”
Chief National Party strategist, former Minister for Everything, and current Minister for Nothing Steven Joyce has announced his retirement from politics. The election winning guru made the announcement at parliament this week after receiving just his own vote during the recent leadership ballot.
During his press conference earlier in the week Joyce was clear. “The generational change I had planned with my Back to the Future campaign didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.”
Joyce was adamant he had still done well.
“I did very well,” he told the gathered throng of media, “I had a lot of support in caucus with my unique brand of subtle passive aggressive put-downs and intense micromanagement. There’s nothing people like more than thinking they’re being told they are doing a great job when in actual fact they are being told the exact opposite. It’s great for morale.”
Joyce was asked by one of the media present what was his greatest achievement in politics.
“My greatest achievement,” he replied instantly, “was the 2017 election campaign.”
(If you’ve never heard the sound of the Press Gallery raising a collective left eyebrow, you would have done if you had been present at that press conference.)
“The 2017 election campaign was a monumental success. National ended up being the biggest party by a massive amount. We were in the mid-40s and nobody else was anywhere close. It was brilliant.
“Looking back I think the proudest moment of that entire campaign was our television advertisement. I remember when I had the idea. It wasn’t long after we’d been in court over the Eminem thing and I thought to myself: we definitely can’t do that sort of thing again so I came up with a completely different idea where the guys in the canoe were running down the road and then they run past the group of idiots from the dinghy falling over themselves. The only thing that was missing from that ad was some haunting music underneath the National Party runners that went jig jig jig jig jig jig jig jig. That would have been pretty legal.”
What is his biggest regret?
“That not one of those idiots from the advert would go into coalition with us and give us another term.”
Steven Joyce has a lot planned for his retirement. Most of his plans centre around being awarded some pretty sweet positions through the old-boys network he cultivated so meticulously during his near decade in parliament.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there in the private sector,” said Joyce, “especially for someone who has the ability to do a whole bunch of stuff without really doing any of the stuff.”
Joyce will leave parliament next month. Thank Christ.
In our final extract from the scintillating new book Fury and Fury from author Wolf Michaels, we look at the fight to replace former Prime Minister Bill English. It seems our author had spent some time in the Collins camp during her campaign.
The day dawns slowly in southern Auckland. I’ve spent last night at the home of former lawyer Judith Collins. We are sitting with her husband enjoying a breakfast of six different kinds of meat accompanied with a tall glass of ice-cold Orivida milk. An icy silence hangs over the breakfast table. Collins is perusing her beloved WhaleOil blog on an unspecified tablet device while her husband and I look at each other suspiciously. It’s obvious he wonders why I’m there and I have to say I’m also having the same wonderings.
We were back in Wellington last evening. I was enjoying some drinks with the far right neo-fascist wing of the National Party. They don’t enjoy using that moniker in public but the pictures of Stalin and Mussolini upon the wall suggest they definitely enjoy using it. Bill English has just announced his resignation as National Party leader and the committee are meeting to discuss their plans. Judith is leading the discussion with the three other MPs who are there.
I’ve followed New Zealand politics for over two decades and I have absolutely no idea who these people are. I have never seen them in parliament, either in the chamber or walking around the building. None of the three have made any media appearances. I think back to the campaign last year and despite the amount of brain racking going on I am just not able to place them. Are they from the South Island or from further north? I suppose that is probably the price a party pays for getting nearly 45% of the vote. The lower ranks of your party list is peppered with all manner of unctuous committee members from around the country. Last year they were deciding on whether or not to spend $650 on repainting the downpipes of a local hall; now they are about to decide on a possible future Prime Minister.
Collins calls the meeting to order and tells the others present she is running and they will be voting for her. Her three new friends all agree with short nods of their heads. No words are returned. Although these are fresh, new members of parliament have not been around the scene very long, they are completely aware of the need not to say the wrong thing around Judith Collins. Crusher is well-known the world over for her passive aggressive responses to any questions.
Back at the breakfast table in Papakura, Ms Collins retrieves her phone and announces to the room, “It’s time.”
Both her husband and I look at each other wondering what it is time for and whether or not we should know anything else at this point.
Collins begins mumbles away to herself while she taps away on her phone before saying, “send,” and tapping the send button with a small flourish. Several short minutes later the phone starts ringing. She answers it and with a gentle voice of sugar syrup confirms whatever questions she is being answered. The phone call ends and Collins puts the phone down on the table and recommences her breakfast. Again her husband and I look at each other. Both of us have a what has just happened look on our faces. However, we’ve been around long enough to know the easiest way to face the wrath of Crusher is to ask her a question about anything involving her life.
Luckily, thanks to the caller being a member of the media, I was able to read a report that Collins was standing for the leadership of the National Party.
Fast forward two weeks and all three of us are enjoying another meat breakfast in the Papakura conservatory. What started with a distinct possibility of someone becoming the next Prime Minister has ended in abject failure. Last Tuesday the National Party held their secret ballot and the only result we know for certain is that Simon Bridges is now the party leader. Who received what level of support in the preferential vote remains unknown. My sources within the party have remained silent but the fury with which Collins has fumed in recent days suggest she definitely didn’t do well.
I look at her husband and subtly raise an eyebrow. He, equally as subtly, shakes his head. We are in agreement that mentioning anything about any subject at all during this breakfast would not only be a bad idea but would also endanger our lives. Ms Collins finishes her breakfast.
“I’ve had enough of your nonsense,” she announces, “I’m off for a nap.”
As she leaves the conservatory and returns to the coffin room, we again exchange subtle gestures communicating clearly to each other that no words will escape our lips until the head of the house is well asleep. Let us hope she is rewarded with some kind of front bench role in the new shadow cabinet, otherwise all future meals at the Collins household will be held in deathly silence.
Deathly Silence. I feel the murmurings of a new book beginning in the depths of my cerebral cortex. Nice.
In our third extract from the Wolf Michaels’ new book Fury and Fury, we look at that most tortured of times for the National Party – the announcement they had lost the coalition negotiations when Winston Peters decided to side with Labour.
I place myself gently off to the side on a wall near the rear of the caucus room. Following several days of negotiations, Bill English’s leadership team are at the front of the room quietly confident. Gerry Brownlee attempts a high-five, but those around him are not accommodating. Is it because he is too forthcoming with his emotions, or is it because he still has gravy on his fingers? All eyes are on the television screen at the front. An announcement is imminent.
We are watching the NewsHub feed. Patrick Gower is salivating at the prospect of something happening at some point in the near future. He tells viewers Winston is due to make an announcement any minute. There is, however, no sign of anyone of any note floating around in any corridors except Gower’s press gallery colleagues. They cross to Lloyd Burr at the lift for the seventeenth time and the doors remain closed. Suddenly there is the unmistakable ping of a lift arriving. Burr just about explodes with political excitement. The question on everybody’s lips: Could this be Winston Peters ready to make his announcement? As the doors open and the cleaner wheels out his trolley the answer on everybody’s lips remains no.
After several more minutes of Gower’s padding and a couple more Burr explosions, the leader of New Zealand First finally appears from the lift like some kind of harbinger of doom or a hallowed saviour. It’s unclear which he will be. Certainly, in the National Party caucus room there is a definite air of confidence. The feel they have achieved the rare feat of a fourth term. Brownlee’s energetic gravy-fuelled high-five attempt earlier suggests as much.
Winston Peters walks towards the podium. He arrives at the podium. He removes some papers from his suit jacket pocket and places them on the podium. I like the word podium.
Peters clears his throat and has a sip of water. He begins his speech by spelling out the view he has about New Zealand being at the precipice of disaster. He says the markets will implode and the housing market will crash and everyone will die. Interestingly there are a few sniggers in the National Party caucus room. It is unclear whether these are because many National MPs are cushioned from any economic shock because of their many millions or whether they find news of doom particularly amusing.
Peters continues. After several minutes of padding that would have made Patrick Gower proud, Peters finally announces that New Zealand First have decided to go into coalition with the New Zealand Labour Party.
Instantly, the mood in the caucus room changes from one of triumphant hubris to one of seething outrage. All eyes slowly fall upon deputy leader Paula Bennett. It is clear the members of her caucus believe she is at fault. Was it because she was involved in the leaking of Peters’ superannuation details or was it all that election footage of her singing on the campaign bus. The venom in some of the glances suggest it may be a bit of both. She smiles nervously but one wonders whether that might be it for her political career.
The leadership team at the front of the room can’t quite believe what they have just witnessed. Steven Joyce points out they don’t actually have a concession speech prepared. He holds up a piece of A5 paper telling everyone they only, “…had this one for the win.” It is evident from where I’m sitting the number of face palms suggest Mr Fixit might have broken something. Will he go the same way as Paula Bennett?
Sitting near my position next to me is Judith Collins who has removed a small nail file from her handbag and is already sharpening her fangs.
To borrow a phrase from an author far more erudite than myself, it’s on like Donkey Kong.