What follows is a transcript of a meeting between some senior National Party figures held early Saturday morning New Zealand time.
Footsteps and doors opening and closing. Chairs shifting. Various mutterings about a left-wing conspiracy.
JOHN KEY: Good morning team. Thanks for coming.
ALL: Thanks for inviting us. Most welcome. Cheers. etc.
JOHN KEY: Ok, so the reason we’re all here today is two-fold. Firstly, I want to get rid of this left-wing conspiracy that’s shining a light on our right-wing conspiracy. Secondly, I want to talk about the issues that matter to New Zealan…
BILL ENGLISH: (interrupting) You don’t need that bullshit with me John. You’ve got my vote… (stands on chair) captain, my captain.
STEVEN JOYCE: (stands on chair) Captain, my captain.
GERRY BROWNLEE: (stands on chair) Captain, my captain.
PAULA BENNETT: (stands on chair) Captain, my captain.
Sound of door opening. Out-of-breath staffer enters.
JASON EDE: Mr Key! Mr Key! I can’t stay silent any longer. I can’t stay in the corridor any more! I love you too much. Take me back. I promise I’ll be good.
Kissing and hugging sounds followed quickly by sound of adoration being slapped firmly away.
JOHN KEY: No Jason. No! You stay in the corridor on that cushion. You can’t keep doing this. We must keep our distance. I know that it’s hard, darling, but we must.
JASON EDE: But…
JOHN KEY: No… People will be sniffing around now. Things are being released. The situation is too hot. Let it cool down for a while. Here (sound of keys jangling) these are the keys to Hawaii bach. Go and stay there for a few months.
JASON EDE: But I….
JOHN KEY: I’ll come for you. Just go!
Sound of door closing and footsteps running down the corridor. Slight pause as arms fold and hard stare commences.
MURRAY MCCULLY: (involuntary moan of protest, stands on chair) Captain, my captain.
JOHN KEY: Thank you. Thank you all for that show of support. At the end of the day if I can’t be worshiped as a god then there’s really not much point in going on. As our internal polling shows, more and more people are believing me to be less than believable. This is unbelievable. We’ve got to do something. But what?
STEVEN JOYCE: Can we get down off our chairs now?
JOHN KEY: No.
PAULA BENNETT: But I’m scared of heights.
JOHN KEY: I said “no.” What kind of leader would I be if I just allowed you all to do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. People would think of me as weak. That’s not going to happen. Now… can anyone give me anything, anything at all on Judith? It’s like she’s a car accident in slow motion and I’m the St John’s guy with my feet stuck in treacle and I’m wearing a backpack full of bricks. It’s that dream all over again.
STEVEN JOYCE: What about something from the Hager book. It’s pretty damning. It makes her look like a nasty, terribly corrupt bottom-feeder.
JOHN KEY: That won’t work. Have you read it? I’m all through that book. All through it. Anything we pin on Judith will be pinned on me.
GERRY BROWNLEE: Why don’t we stonewall. Blame teachers. Blame the poor. Get stuck into some Christchurch people who’ve been living in broken homes for four years. Those are always very popular strategies with the focus groups.
JOHN KEY: No. We need something more than that. Something better. Something bigger.
MURRAY MCCULLY: I’m feeling a bit woozy. Can I please get down.
JOHN KEY: Absolutely not.
PAULA BENNETT: What about this email from old Blubber Oil? It talks about Jude trying to get rid of the SFO head.
Crashing sound as McCully falls off chair.
JOHN KEY: Where did you get that?
PAULA BENNETT: Oh.. I just downloaded it from Cam’s email account. I thought everyone had the password? He’s pretty liberal with it.
Sound of John Key reading.
JOHN KEY: Oh… this is good. Very good. It’s exactly the same as all the emails in Hager’s book but it’s not in Hager’s book.
Sound of Murray McCully nursing a sprained elbow.
ALL: Great. Excellent. Good work etc.
JOHN KEY: Ok… so here’s what’s going down. I’ll hold a news conference in which I’ll tell New Zealand I’ve been a strong leader and I’ve accepted Judith Collins’ resignation for doing something utterly unbecoming of a minister in my government. That will be that. Gone. Goodbye. No more Judy.
GERRY BROWNLEE: When are you going to call Judy.. ah… Judith?
JOHN KEY: I’ll have the press conference at 12:30 and I’ll call her at 12:23. I want to see her squirm. Right, get down off your chairs and get out there and start defacing our billboards so we can blame the massive left-wing conspiracy.
Sound of people getting down off chairs and walking out of office. Sound of Murray McCully getting up off the floor and limping out of office. Sound of phone being dialled.
JOHN KEY: Hello… SIS? A secure line to Cameron Slater please…. Hi Cam? Bad news…