Dame Susan Devoy: old enough at 18

We are seven months away from polling day, November 26, and my son, who will be 18 in June, received confirmation that he is now eligible to vote.
Little does he realise that this could possibly be the most interesting election we have had since the inception of MMP. He is probably more interested in being old enough to go to the pub.
In just one week, while Prime Minister John Key was dining with the Queen and celebrating the royal wedding, Hone Harawira has launched his Mana Party and by resigning from the Maori Party will force a by election in his Te Tai electorate.
He doesn't give a hoot that it will cost the taxpayers a whopping $500,000.
And remarkably, at the same time Don Brash, in a ruthless coup, rolled Rodney Hide as Act Party leader and has taken over.
Before the prime minister left for the UK, his party had an apparently insurmountable lead in the polls, however his support partners in government, namely the Act and Maori parties, are facing internal challenges that could play a major role in the upcoming election.
Like they say, 24 hours is a long time in politics.
So now we have the Mana Party. Mana means integrity, authority, charisma, and in my humble opinion the leader of New Zealand's newest political party doesn't possess any of those attributes.
I sat next to Hone on a flight to Auckland not long after he made his comments about "being uncomfortable if one of his daughters came home with a Pakeha".
The flight was pretty rough and it was on the tip of my tongue to tell Hone he had gone white.
Somehow, then, we probably would have laughed but I sense Hone's new party will see a more radical activist approach to issues pertaining to Maori than the considered, moderate manner in which the Maori Party has conducted itself in order to gain credibility and influence in the Government.


After all, a party with Annette Sykes, Sue Bradford and John Minto as possible members is about as radical as you get.
They will be as much to the left as Brash's will be to the right.
I watched the two in a testy debate on TV3, taking pot shots like kids in the playground.
The disparaging comments flew thick and fast.
It was a low blow comparing Brash to Hitler, despite the fact I think he is an egotistical, draconian man past his use-by date.
Hone obviously despised Hitler but in the next breath stated Osama bin Laden should be honoured as a man who fought for the rights, the land and the freedom of the people. It really has been week of contradictions.
Hone campaigns vehemently for the impoverished but is happy to waste taxpayers' money on a by-election after ditching the party that has the best opportunity to work for his people.
Don Brash is not even a member of the Act Party and next minute he is the leader.
Robert Mugabe managed to sidestep an EU travel ban to attend the beatification of Pope John Paul 11 in the Vatican City, where the trading bloc doesn't apply, and was photographed shaking hands with Pope Benedict.
Obama and Clinton thank Pakistan for its co-operation in capturing and killing bin Laden and at the same time maintain it was unaware he was living under its roof.
They are all clowns, and politics is the greatest circus on earth.
Try explaining that to an 18-year-old.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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