John Banks may not get the sack as a minister but even the Prime Minister isn't going to go out of his way to defend him any more than he has to. When Banks' chief tormentor Kim Dotcom turned up at Parliament this week, his ex-friend the ex-mayor was nowhere to be seen. Asked if he believed Mr Banks should have shown up, John Key said that was Banks' choice 'but I know what I do' - see Rebecca Quilliam, Claire Trevett and Kate Shuttleworth's Dotcom case: PM 'never runs'. And according to Jane Clifton, the debate in Parliament is reaching such levels of absurdity that at one stage 'Key leapt up, flung his arms in the air crying 'Rhubarb!' and sat down' - see: Banks of loud rhubarb on Planet Key.
The Opposition is enjoying the sport at question time, and John Banks has a distinctly hunted look as he tries to avoid media questioning. But trying to bring him down over the legalities may be the wrong tactic writes Scott Yorke in Say What You Like, But He's No Criminal.
Yorke is, nevertheless, unimpressed with John Key's continuing support of the Act leader and also parodies how the PM might rationalise future ministerial indiscretions - see: Next Week's Q&A.
There is nothing for the Government to do but ride it all out now, as few believe that the decision not to sack Banks has anything to do with standards or ethics and everything to do with political survival. John Armstrong writes that Key is having to 'defend the indefensible' in The farce grows with every day, and Claire Trevett makes an unflattering wildlife comparison in Key the ostrich has head firmly buried in sand. The policy is 'don't ask, don't tell, don't think' says Gordon Campbell in On John Banks, and Japanese politicking.
As Toby Manhire chronicles in Parliament's planetary fixation: a recent history, National have long referred to 'Planet Labour' as the only location where the opposition's economic policies would work, but it is now rivaled by 'Planet Key' - a place covered in golf courses where ignorance is bliss and there are apparently no toilets. John Armstrong explains further in No work, no toilets on Planet Key.
It seems that on Planet Key there are also meetings to discuss ideas that have already been ruled out. Regardless of whether Maori negotiate together or 'iwi by iwi', it is likely that the Government's consultation hui will have little bearing on the outcome. Duncan Garner is scathing: 'Prime Minister John Key says it's unacceptable. So let's talk about it. Seriously, these iwi leaders didn't come down in the last shower.... It's a sham. It's disingenuous. It's based on a lie' - see: Iwi 'consultation' is a sham and insults Maori. The Maori Party is now openly attacking National about the process, with MP Te Ururoa Flavell saying, 'The Crown has deliberately gone into these hui with a pre-determined outcome' - see: Govt's approach to hui questioned.
But if the Government's consultation process is a sham, then equally last week's unity agreement announced by the Maori king is just as hollow. King Tuheitia and his spokesman Tuku Morgan played up the unity established within Maoridom, but their credibility is now surely dented by those iwi which clearly want to continue to negotiate with the Government - see: Yvonne Tahana and Adam Bennett's Water unity under threat. Other news reports also suggest very little unity - see RNZ's Ngai Tahu to attend water hui and Ngati Porou examines tribal unity call over water. So there's clearly some truth in the Prime Minister's skepticism about the establishment of one voice for Maori on water - see Audrey Young's Key compares Maori unity on water to Gaga's outfits.
Meanwhile the merits of the water claim continue to be debated. The Dominion Post editorial title is clear: Water claim is nonsense. It says 'Issuing unreasonable and unrealistic demands is not what Maoridom needs from its leaders'. This has prompted a detailed rebuttal from Morgan Godfery, including: 'Property rights also go to the heart of western society. The Right like to extoll the values of western society, except when those values apply to brown folk. In these situations the rules change' - see: Fisking the Dominion Post. Similarly, Tim Selwyn (The Pakeha Veto) takes David Farrar to task for his recent post, So much for that hui.
Other important or interesting political items today include:
* Are US warships about to come back to New Zealand? No. But it's certainly significant that New Zealand is hosting a visit from the US Defence Secretary for the first time in 30 years. The visit is all about getting NZ onside for the growing rivalry in the Asia-Pacific between the US and China - see Robert Ayson's NZ needs to watch out for itself. And according to Brian Rudman, the Americans want to be our best friends again, but the price may be too high - see: US defence boss likely to demand too much. The visit is also covered by the assistant editor of the UK's Guardian newspaper, who aggregates various news stories and online opinions about the issue in Leon Panetta gets a lukewarm welcome in New Zealand.
* The Greens are at the forefront of pushing for transparency in governance at the moment. But not all are impressed with their various legislative solutions - see Jordan Williams' Lobbying bill will distance people from MPs and Kate Chapman's Disclosure bill for judges challenged.
* Slamming the Government for revealing too much information is unusual (unless ACC is involved): Too much information revealed over SAS mission - Labour. The Greens say the mission shouldn't be happening at all.
* At the time he told the nation that the disaster had brought the community together but, according to Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, his upcoming book will reveal 'the arguments, indecision, petty jealousies, power struggles and policies' - see Glenn Conway and Sam Sachdeva's Parker book airs post-quake 'power struggles'.
* Christchurch is also the site of some significant political disgruntlement at the moment. The recommended reading on this is Mark Blackham's Chch Schools a meta-issue, Caroline King's Give back our democracy, Cantabs tell Govt, and Mike Coleman's This recovery has been 'done to us'.
* National and Labour are attacking each other over policies that actually share the same logic, even if the tone and politics are different writes Jane Clifton in New rules for beneficiaries - state coercion of parents?.
* Some experts claim the Government will still be in a $1 billion dollar hole by 2015 but Bill English is holding the line - even if further budget cuts are needed to meet the surplus target - see Andrea Vance's Government holds to surplus timing.
* Sue Bradford has not only returned to the police cells after being arrested, she has started blogging again: Welfare protest - back to the cells.
* As debate continues over what the Reserve Bank should or can do about the high exchange rate Brian Fallow argues that the problem is 'It has been too easy, a cop-out really, for governments to subscribe to the myth of central bank omnipotence and outsource the task of stabilisation entirely to them' - see: Monetary policy needs mates.
* Fresh from advocating wholesale nationalisation of strategic resources, well known 'pinko' Fran O'Sullivan is now calling for strategic state investment in Fisher and Paykel to ensure at least some of the company remains in Kiwi hands - see: Institutions should stick with F&P.
* The MMP Review proposals get some serious attention with the following debates: Graeme Edgeler vs Muriel Newman: Should the MMP 5 per cent party vote threshold be reduced? and Andrew Geddis vs Richard Prebble Should the MMP electorate-seat rule be removed?. Meanwhile, the original chair of the Royal Commission on the electoral system, and ex- president of the Electoral Commission has died - see RNZ's Sir John Wallace dies.
* Finally, on the topic of John Armstrong's critique of bloggers, Karl du Fresne gives his view in That post-Vladivostok shootout.