Today My Thinks continues its irregular series of political profiles. Today our focus is on Justice Minister and dairy company consultant Judith Collins. Our reporter caught up with her over the weekend as she enjoyed some relaxation time at her home away from home – the South Auckland Gun and Oversized Weaponry Club.
I arrive at the gun club just after morning tea time. There is a definite tang in the air as if someone has spent the last seven hours firing round after round after round. I open the door and head inside. Sitting there at a table enjoying a cup of tea with her security official is Judith Collins. She looks up, spots me and flashes me a smile. A long, cold shiver runs up my spine – as if someone has not only walked over my grave but dug it up and re-zoned the cemetery as a playground.
“Good morning Michael,” says the Justice Minister, “I’m glad you were able to come and see me at the range this morning. I’ve been here since half past four and so far I’ve fired 13 different weapons.”
She takes a sip of her tea and continues. I am somewhat concerned that we have never met, yet she knows my name.
“Guns are sexy and so am I,” she declares.
I’m not sure what she means by this as I don’t believe either to be the case. Her security officer gives me a you’d better agree with what she says, otherwise you will die look. Fearing for my life, I agree with her.
Collins points to what resembles a former pig carcass at the other end of the range. She turns away from it, primes her Glock, closes her eyes and then does a half turn emptying the magazine. Each hollow point bullet causes maximum impact and in no time the carcass is just a pile of meat on the ground. Collins blows the smoke away from her gun barrel and sits down to another sip of tea.
“What do you want?” she asks in a deliciously menacing voice.
“I’m here from the blog to do your profile.”
“Did Cameron send you?”
“Oh, no… I don’t write for his blog. I’m not a member of any far-right hate group.”
“But Cam’s a member of the National Party.”
“Um… yes. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions for my blog?”
Ms Collins looks at her gun and back at me. “Be careful,” she says, “be very, very careful.”
Carefully I reach into my man-satchel to get my notepad. Collins starts laughing. After a short delay, her security officer realises what is happening and begins to laugh as well. Both stop at exactly the same time.
“Goodness me sweetie,” she says in a voice that would melt granite, “is that a man-satchel you’ve got? Are you a member of the Labour Party. Worse! Are you a Green? Oh, god, you’re a Green. Quick! Where’s your tin-foil hat? Where’s your sandals, your fresh water ideas and your comprehensive public transport policy? Oh deary me my gay-dar is off today, honey.”
I decide rather than to try to defend myself against this barrage of passive-aggressive abuse, I would start the interview. I look at my list of questions. Instantly I put a line through seven fully aware that the banana box of 9mm bullets is within arms reach.
“Why did you get into politics,” I ask, certain that this question is benign enough to generate an answer.
“I got into politics because I was excited about serving my community…”
So far, so good.
“…You see there are many people in the community, particularly in the community of my family, who are in desperate need of help. The government can and do provide help to a range of people. My family are a range of people. They need help. I am here to help.”
“You’ve had a rough year this year,” I continue, “was there ever a time when you thought that you would give politics away?”
“Oh goodness no darling,” she says, “I am committed to serving the hard-working people in New Zealand families like my family. We are living in a brighter future and that future is #TeamKey.”
I want to point out that she doesn’t have to say the word hashtag before she says TeamKey because I know what she is talking about. Again, the banana box of bullets prevents me from speaking out.
“What do you think will happen to the National Party once John Key leaves to play golf in Hawaii with Barak Obama and other redundant world leaders?”
“Oh, I suspect there will be a feeding frenzy in caucus and the best man will rise above the surface with blood on their face and entrails in their teeth. I will be that man.”
I realise the longer I stay in this gun club, the greater my chances are of having a shorter life-span. I thank Ms Collins for her time and quickly make my exit.
If the National Party lose the election, I don’t want to be there when it happens.
Hard on the heels of coalition big brother National announcing a new Food in Schools programme today, the ACT Party has announced a groundbreaking education policy.
John Banks, Leader of the Least Popular Party Except for United Future, says the brand-new education policy is giving something back to kiwi children.
“Too many children attend a school where no schooling happens,” Mr Banks told a massive crowd of 7 at a special ACT breakfast.
Banks told the crowd of over 5 that he’d recently been to schools where teachers were spending their mornings feeding hungry kids rather than planning lessons, dusting blackboards or sharpening chalk.
“It’s a sad world when a child turns up to school and all they do is eat breakfast supplied by a religious charity or a dairy giant.”
Mr Banks went on to tell the packed lounge-room he was certain if kids turned up to school to attend school, rather than eat breakfast, learning outcomes would improve for our most vulnerable.
The School in Schools plan, announced to the heaving throng, would bring learning back to schools. Banks says teachers need to be teaching and not dipping into their own pockets to pay for sandwiches or taking kids on trips to the observatory or whatever.
“Back in my day,” said Banks, “everyone went to school and were schooled. Nowadays I’d be surprised if any child leaves school with any schooling at all.
“That’s why we’re so excited about bringing in this exciting new School in Schools development.”
Banks told the surging congregation School in Schools would see billions of kiwi children leaving school each day with schooling in their brains and smiles on their faces.
“It’s like Christmas, but with fewer presents, and more maths and stuff.”
The gathering finished with Mrs Banks making everyone a cup of tea and handing around a delicious plate of Krispies.
The government has announced a range of sweeping changes aimed at cleaning up the blogosphere.
A review released today has recommended widespread changes and the setting up of a body that would issue practicing certificates and registration for bloggers.
The review committee made several recommendation including the setting up of a Bloggers Council to oversee the registration of bloggers who are noted for speaking their mind, often on issues they know very little, if anything, about.
Last year Broadcasting Minister Jonathon Coleman called for a review following the release of a report on a well-known blogger who’d published thousands of unsubstantiated rumours about political opponents on his website.
Currently bloggers are not required by any statute to prove the legitimacy of their qualifications, areas of expertise, previous work experience or their appropriateness to comment on any issue currently being discussed in the public domain.
The review committee has suggested some kind of name would be important for the fledgling body.
“A new body with the purpose of creating a stronger and more vibrant profession needs a name to encapsulate its importance. The name should reflect the membership and the vision of enhanced status and professionalism of blogging and leadership in on-line commentary.”
Suggestions are Council of New Zealand Bloggers, Blogging Council of New Zealand and Aotearoa Bloggers and Commentators.
Coleman has said the changes are necessary because, “as the review found, to improve outcomes for all RSS readers and to address equity issues, New Zealand must have a flexible, skilled and culturally intelligent and well-led blogforce.”
Former National Party list MP, Aaron Gilmore, has today announced plans to apply to run a new charter school.
Gilmore, who lost his job recently following an angry outburst at an expensive Hanmer Springs retreat for he and his National Party colleagues, has said he believes his future lies in promoted positive outcomes for young New Zealanders.
Gilmore, who recently lost his job after dancing loudly in front of a waiter, has told My Thinks about the ethos behind his revolutionary new charter school proposal.
“It’s about getting the kids to stand up for themselves,” he said while stroking his parliamentary security pass reticently, “Kiwi kids are too quiet. They spend far too much time saying nothing. My plan is to open up a school that focuses on improving their self-esteem and their ability to speak out in pubic situations that are either scary for them, or at times that are entirely inappropriate.”
Gilmore, who is now looking for work following a recent falling out with his employer, says, “I have already signed up a range of people with an excellent knowledge base to draw from. Some of the courses include: The Importance of Self Importance with Dr the very Bishop Brian Tamaki, How to Look Good First Thing in the Morning with Professor Jamie Ridge, and Saying Loud Things Loudly with Associate Professor His Worship Tim Shadbolt.”
Gilmore, who will be taking the Don’t You Know Who I Am? course, says it’s important that the first charter schools to open in New Zealand cater to a wide range of diverse learning needs. “That’s why we’ve offered I Don’t Know What I Am with Doctor Dame Susan Devoy.
Prime Minister John Key, who was recently photographed with Gilmore at a sumptuous National Party function, where Gilmore later embarrassed himself, the party and many of the lower ranked National Party list MPs who may be out of a job at the next election, said he welcomed the announcement.
“I don’t know who this guy is,” Key told My Thinks, “but he sounds exactly like the kind of idiot we want educating our children in the 21st century.”
Key then went on to say that everybody knew who he was and that being Prime Minister was really, really cool and everyone should have a go. He then offered to change some legislation if I opened my wallet for him.
My Thinks was tempted, but we declined.
These notes were transcribed by office temp Raylene Johnson. They are taken from a short meeting, or Crisis Discussion, held recently between representatives of the Ministry of Education and Australian-based Novopay operators Talent2. They were accidentally sent to me after I sent in an email request to Novopay asking for a copy of a payslip from August. The email was accompanied by the bank account details of all teachers currently working in New Zealand and Australia.
Meeting commenced: 9:15am.
Present: Lesley Longstone, John Rawlinson, NotCraig Foss
Lesley: ok… Let’s get this thing going. John, we’ve called you over to New Zealand because we’re having a few problems with your Novopay system.
John: No you’re not.
Lesley: Um… yes we are John. We’ve had well over 10,000 errors since the system went live in August.
John: No you haven’t.
Lesley: Yes we have John. Just ask Craig here, the min…
NotCraig: (interrupting). That’s NotCraig. I’m NotCraig Foss. Treat me as if I’m not here. (waves hands in front of face) I’m not even here.
Lesley: Um… thanks NotCraig.
NotCraig: I. Am. NotCraig…
Lesley: If Craig were here…
NotCraig: …But he’s not…
Lesley: …I’m sure he’d be able to confirm the concern that both of us are having over this lackluster start.
John: I’m not sure I know what either of you are talking about. Talent2 have delivered a state-of-the-art payroll system for the Ministry of Education.
Lesley: But John, if you had there wouldn’t be any errors. Surely.
John: But Lesley we have. It says so on our website.
Lesley: Ok… let me just get that up on the tablet… ok so I’m on the Talent2 website now… which page do I click on?
John: (pointing) that one there… media slash PR.
Lesley: Oh… ok… (reading under breath) mumble mumble… top payroll operator… mumble mumble …have delivered… mumble mumble …just ask New Zealand Post… mumble mumble ….adequately satisfied.
John: So you can see from that press release, the comforting smile on my face, and the reassuring hand placed gently on your lithe wrist, that Talent2 has delivered on their promise of a payroll system for the New Zealand Ministry of Education.
Lesley: (smiling coyly) You’re absolutely right John. That is a really nice smile. And a strong hand.
John: Exactly. So are we all fine here?
Lesley: (giggling) Of course John. We’re completely fine.
NotCraig: I think your website is really cool.
John: Good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some journalists to charm the pants off. I might see you later.
Lesley: Oh John… just in case anyone asks…
John: (smiling). Blame the teachers, Lesley. Just blame the teachers (exits).
Lesley: He was really very nice. I have every confidence in everything he just said.
NotCraig: I might dress as a bunny next Hallowe’en…
Meeting ends: 9:23am