Claire Trevett 's Opinion

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett: Key's nightmare is Dotcom's sweet dream

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I bloody love that we have a Prime Minister who is not afraid to make a tit of himself.

Prime Minister John Key modelling a Rugby New Zealand Uniform. Photo / NZPA
Prime Minister John Key modelling a Rugby New Zealand Uniform. Photo / NZPA

Christmas nears and with it the chance to reflect on the "ho, ho, ho" moments of the year just gone. While others of a more cerebral bent focus on the noble, the bravest, the strongest, the impact players and the heroes, this column has gone on a hunt for the best absurdities and insults of 2012.

The writer was nobly assisted in this regard by the Prime Minister, who thankfully clung to "laughter is the best medicine" as his health policy, despite advances in stem cell research. This was shown right up until yesterday, when he finally caved in and did something vaguely resembling the Gangnam Dance for the Edge - prompting one observer to sum it up thus: "I bloody love that we have a Prime Minister who is not afraid to make a tit of himself."

Quite.

The Greens doubled their joke tally from 2011. They revealed a surprising self-deprecating streak by issuing a press release to announce an inquiry into the frequency with which they called for inquiries.

This welcome break from teeth-grinding seriousness was followed up by their second joke of the year: proposing quantitative easing to cure the economy - something they did with an impressively deadpan delivery.

The Greens aside, 2012 was a feast for those who delight in the absurd, the foibles that make up a human character, the sprinkles that turn plain white bread into fairy bread.

There was Paula Bennett's "zip it, sweetie", Conservative leader Colin Craig's bevy of promiscuous women, David Cunliffe's beard, Bill English's hopes of a return to surplus, John Banks and his cabbage boats, and Tau Henare's bid to become Speaker. Education Minister Hekia Parata was hit by an anti-Midas spell which saw everything she touched turn to custard.

By far the best stoushes of the year involved Justice Minister Judith Collins. Having cut her teeth on boy racers last term, this year she built up her powers by kicking out half the ACC board and taking legal action against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little for defamation.

Then she went for her doctorate in stoushing, by going for former Canadian Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie. What followed was a riveting duel at dawn, involving an email Binnie sent to Collins and Collins, deceptively frocked in pink, questioning the credibility of his report on David Bain's compensation bid.

2012 was also the year in which New Zealand showed its skills in international diplomacy. Gerry Brownlee offended Finland by implying it was a crime-ridden land of misogynists. Labour's David Parker upset Mexico by saying New Zealand was becoming "Australia's Mexico" thanks to its lower wages.

And Key sparked his own little ruction by using the unfortunate metaphor of tentacles to describe China's increasing influence over the Pacific.

Back home, Brownlee was also working on domestic diplomacy, calling Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker "a clown" and red-zone home owners "carpers and moaners" with nothing to do but "buggerise round on Facebook all day".

It wasn't a one-way street. The United States State Department transcription service memorably misquoted Key so that he appeared to be promising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to follow the US into the breach in future wars.

The best moment of karma in action was brought to us by the organisers of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh who presented Key with a tailormade bright pink silk shirt, just a week after he poked fun at the "gay red top" worn by a radio announcer at home.

There was little need for satire, but nonetheless we got some. Steven Joyce presented his own script of The Hobbit, featuring Labour leader David Shearer as a wizard up against a "a slimy, bearded creature hiding and plotting in the darkness"(David Cunliffe) but whose mission was imperilled by putting his trust not in giant eagles but in "an elderly Mallard".

Planet Key replaced Pluto as the ninth planet in the solar system, invented by the Greens as revenge for Key's depiction of Planet Labour. Key, however, was put in charge of the Creation on Planet Key and the result was a lot of golf courses but no toilets.

Beautiful if unlikely relationships are built on humour - and so it was with Key and Winston Peters, although the humour was laced with bile. While Key spent the year needling Peters by questioning his lucidity, Peters nicknamed Key "Mr Spray and Walk Away".

It remains unclear whether Peters is comparing Key to a tomcat or simply thinks Key is Asian - just like Peters' own ancestors - and has a lichen problem.

That lichen problem is now a metaphor for an ever-growing number of things - John Banks, SkyCity, the Maori Council's water rights claim delaying asset sales, people heading off to Australia.

The most pernicious form of lichen appears to be Kim Dotcom.

It was almost a year ago that Dotcom came to Key's attention just before the raids on the Dotcom mansion.

Key recently joked he was having nightmares about seeing Dotcom's name on the All Blacks' jerseys. Ominously, Dotcom has also tweeted that it was his dream to get his name on the All Blacks' jerseys.

It remains the topic that elicits the most "pfssts" from the Prime Minister. After one year, one political donation mess, numerous hefty legal bills and several red faces later, lichen still stays.

- NZ Herald

Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor and joined the Press Gallery in 2007. She began with the Herald in 2003 as the Northland reporter before moving to Auckland where her rounds included education and media. A graduate of AUT's post-graduate diploma in journalism, Claire began her journalism career in 2002 at the Northern Advocate in Whangarei. Claire has conjoint Bachelor of Law/ Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Canterbury.

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