Steve Braunias: Secret Diary of Jonathan Coleman

The situation in Havelock North is concerning. It is important that the public has confidence in their water supply. Photo / George Novak
The situation in Havelock North is concerning. It is important that the public has confidence in their water supply. Photo / George Novak

MONDAY

The Prime Minister said, "Mate, would you like to go to Rio at the end of the day?"

I said, "You bet I would, mate!"

"Good," he said. "Go home and pack."

"I thought you might send Todd," I said. "He's always keen to travel."

"Who's Todd?"

"You know. Todd Barclay. MP for Southland."

"Oh. Him. Yeah, he does seem to get around a lot, doesn't he?"

I asked, "What does he do when he gets there?"

"I've no idea," he said. "Anyway. Rio! You'll be the Government's man at the Olympics."

"Fly the flag sort of thing," I said.

"Don't talk to me about flags," he said.

"Sorry, I forgot," I said. "But are you sure about sending me? I'm also the Minister of Health."

"You are?"

"Yes," I said. "What if there was some kind of health scare while I was out of the country?"

"Mate," he said, "what's the worst that can happen?"

TUESDAY

Here I am at the Olympics! Except I'm the only one here. I felt a bit lonely sitting in a stadium all by myself, so I decided to walk to the beach.

That was more like it! It was absolutely packed. I found a space to lie down on the hot, golden sand, and was starting to doze off when the phone rang. I put it on mute, and lay back.

It felt good to be lying on a beach in the sunshine in August.

Not much chance of that at home! You'd be mad to try doing that at home! No, at the end of the day, you're much better off doing it in Brazil.

But it was thirsty work, and eventually I picked myself up and went in search of a refreshing drink. An urchin approached and tried to sell me a bottle of water. In all likelihood he'd filled it from a tap, and stuck a cap on it.

"I'm sorry, young gentleman," I said to him, "but the risks of contamination are simply too great.

"Have you heard of campylobacter? What about Escherichia coli, also known as E coli? I take it from your blank, uncomprehending stare that you haven't, but let me tell you that it's a very unpleasant state of affairs.

"Many people in Brazil live in Third World conditions. This makes people such as yourself, you little barefoot scamp, vulnerable to E coli. Whereas I'm from New Zealand, and the risks are practically non-existent."

My phone vibrated. The screen informed me that I had 3705 missed calls.

WEDNESDAY

The stadiums are still empty. I felt a bit lonely not talking to anyone, so I switched the phone back on and called the office.

They put me straight through to the Prime Minister.

I said, "Is something wrong?"

He said, "Have you heard of campylobacter? What about Escherichia coli, also known as E coli?"

THURSDAY

The situation in Havelock North is concerning. It is important that the public has confidence in their water supply.

To ensure we have a clear understanding of what has happened in Havelock North as well as any learnings from the situation, the Government will launch an independent inquiry. This will be a wide-ranging inquiry to ensure that all New Zealanders can feel confident about the quality of drinking water supplies.

This has been a difficult time for many.

But there's nothing I can do about it, so I called room service, and ate delicious Brazilian cooking while lying in bed and watching the Olympics on TV.

It looked quite exciting.

FRIDAY

The Prime Minister called.

"Mate," he said, "get yourself home right now."

"I can see the sense in you wanting the Minister of Health back in the country during the E coli situation to get a handle on some learnings," I said.

"Mate," he said, "I don't give a stuff about that.

"I want the Minister of Sport back in the country because the ABs are playing Australia tomorrow."

"You can count on me," I said. "I'll be there to fly the flag!"

The line went dead.

- NZ Herald

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