Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: So dumb... and they're in charge

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Peter Dunne.  Photo / Sarah Ivey
Peter Dunne. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Sometimes I despair at the stupidity of some of the people who run our country.

Peter Dunne built his reputation over three decades as someone smart and reliable. I was once told by a wise old union boss that the only thing anyone could ever hope for was respect from your opponents and love from your family.

The tragic self-immolation of Dunne destroyed in a twinkle his life work's reputation. As his downfall was triggered by a too-close relationship with a female journalist, the support of his family may also now be at risk.

Like Act's John Banks, Dunne is relegated to being a lone mocked creature shuffling around the corridors of Parliament, limping through to the next election on the taxpayers' dime before his now-sullied political career is ignobly extinguished.

All political careers end in failure, just not as humiliating as these two. But these two aren't alone.

What was going through Minister of Police Anne Tolley's brain this week when she defended the front-runner to be the next police commissioner over his comments that he believed a dead cop's integrity was beyond reproach - even though that same man was found to have planted evidence against an innocent man?

Earlier, Tolley attacked my union for claiming her cops took discounted meals from fast-food chains at the same time as roughing up their employees on strike, even though television cameras filmed the "police discount" key on the cash registers.

And don't even get me started on Hekia Parata.

Is there anything she touches that doesn't turn into a disaster? She spends her time parroting inane sound bites while her personal and department senior staff seek the exit door.

Before you think I'm being too one-eyed, what did Phil Goff, Kris Faafoi, Annette King and Clayton Cosgrove think they were doing accepting free seats in SkyCity's VIP box at the All Blacks' game last week?

Nice for them to get their snouts in the trough while the people who vote for them pay for uncomfortable seats in the cold outside.

Attacking SkyCity for using its political influence to get itself a sweetheart deal is legitimate politics. But the hypocrisy of cosying up on SkyCity's dime loses any advantage Labour had over John Key's unpalatable deal-making with SkyCity. Did those MPs not understand that SkyCity didn't invite them because it just happened to have four spare tickets?

SkyCity knows full well that if National loses the next election, its pokies-for-a-convention-centre deal is at risk. Therefore it makes good sense to be nice to a few Labour MPs.

The cliche is true, there really isn't any such a thing as a free lunch. In the situation last Saturday, it's not too hard to imagine, after a few beers, our worthy guests winking to their hosts not to worry about Labour's public antics as it's really only those pesky Greens who take anti-gambling seriously.

Despite National's glee, I give David Shearer a pass as he wasn't a guest and popped in for only a few minutes to talk to someone present without partaking of the hospitality.

However, Goff's explanation that he accepted the free VIP tickets only so he could meet SkyCity honchos to tell them what he really thought about the SkyCity deal was just embarrassing. Maybe he planned on using the halftime break to turn on his hosts?

Maybe our politicians aren't as dumb as we think. Maybe the problem is that they think we're dumb.

- Herald on Sunday

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