With just 232 days to go till the election, New Zealand is perched collectively on the edge of its seat. Or sitting down, let's agree on that.
With September 23 inked into the calendar, Bill English unleashed yesterday his first big State of the Nation address as prime minister. Many of his so-called rivals had done theirs already.
In the cause of democracy I have listened to them all, including the ones that haven't yet been delivered. Relying entirely on memory, supplemented where appropriate with alternative facts, here are the election-year state of the nation speeches, digested.
Bill English, National Party
New Zealand is great, isn't it? It's better than great. It's pretty good. What a world, eh? You can take the scruffy boy out of the Southland farm, but you can't take the Southland farm out of the scruffy boy. At an early age I socially invested in, or "married", Mary. Hopefully her parents are proud of me now.
Richie McCaw was great, wasn't he? Better than great: pretty good. But when you think about it Kieran Read's captaincy has been even more successful, and he's cautious, stable, an engine of continuity, sometimes you don't even notice he's there. Hardly ever see him on the wrong side of the ruck. And who doesn't want to Read English, right, you know it.
Growth is great, isn't it? Better than great: a cornerstone of prudent fiscal strategy. I met a Māori boy. You want a totally original idea? More police. Let's grow the police, until their heads touch the sky. Old is new, continuity is change, the horizon, in its own way, is an increment. Brighter future, Team Key, thank you.
Andrew Little, Labour Party, and Metiria Turei, Green Party
Welcome to what we're calling a joint event, though strictly not in a Green Party full-moon circle sense of the word. It's the Chinese New Year so I looked up the -
So I looked up the horoscopes. Bill English is an unlucky ox and I'm a very lucky snake. What a year!
And it is the year to change the government, and replace it with Labour.
And the Greens.
Change the government. Change the game. And change contact lenses daily. What a world, eh? Here today we have a dynamic new team, full of fresh young faces.
Thanks. Labour has some recycled old faces, too.
Bill English has failed. He's a competent bean counter but we don't even use beans as currency any more. You can't build houses with beans.
Mana wahine can.
I am a fighter, and I married a nurse, and I have a house and I have a son. Will my son have a house? Will he marry a nurse? Will he have a son? Makes you think. Change the government.
And knit booties.
AL & MT:
In conclusion, change the government.
Winston Peters, New Zealand First
With all due respect I think you'll find I was demonstrably vindicated in my prediction about Brexit, and in my prediction about Trump, and in my prediction about John Key.
What a world, eh? And today I predict that New Zealand First will win the election. Don't expect the media to tell you that. Don't expect them to tell the truth about immigration, about our values. But, listen up sunshine. They don't know what I know, and believe me, by the way, what I know is tremendous, no one knows more tremendous things than Winston Peters.
Gareth Morgan? That joker, let me tell you, is an imbecile in a Garfield handlebar. He's a blithering idiot who no one takes seriously and it's frankly an insult to the intelligence of New Zealanders to suggest that he's anything like Winston Peters.
Te Ururoa Flavell, Māori Party, and Hone Harawira, Mana
Our collective focus is improving the lives of Māori people by working with the government, whoever that might be.
[indecipherable noise; smell of smouldering eyebrows]
David Seymour, ACT
No wonder housing is in such a state when there is so much regulation thanks to the main parties being so hopeless and craven to their supporters it's about time we removed regulations preventing a massive expansion in house building except in Epsom obviously.
Gareth Morgan, the Opportunities Party
Make New Zealand Fair Again. Drain the Beehive. Trump? Can't bear the guy. Terrible, the worst, period. Trump. Trump. Trump. Smash the establishment. Trump. Trump. Fake news. Trump. A new kind of politics, free of the sloganeering nonsense. Make New Zealand Fair Again. Trump. Trump. Trump.
Winston Peters? That joker, let me tell you, is an imbecile in a pin-striped gazebo. He's a blithering idiot who no one takes seriously and it's frankly an insult to the intelligence of New Zealanders to suggest that he's anything like Gareth Morgan. Trump.
Kim Dotcom, the Internet Party
I'll be back.
Peter Thiel, the Citizen Party
Gidday, me hearties! Let's crack open a Speights and stick some snags on the Barbie, it'll be pukka, kia ora!