Debating current affairs
Paul Thomas is a Weekend Herald columnist

Paul Thomas: Revealed: Messages from a leaky boat

'I must have hit the wrong button. Bloody computers. Seeing I didn't mean to send it, I trust you'll delete it without reading.'

Peter Dunne - from Mr Sensible to Mr Unwise Even Stupid. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Peter Dunne - from Mr Sensible to Mr Unwise Even Stupid. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Come on, admit it: you'd love to read those emails everybody's talking about.

That's right, the correspondence between Peter Dunne, leader of the incredible shrinking United Future Party, the politician formerly known as Mr Sensible but now known as Mr Unwise Even Stupid, and Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance, formerly of the News of the World (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more). Well, thanks to this Weekend Herald exclusive, now you can.

Don't bother asking how we got hold of them.

You should know by now that news organisations never reveal their sources. Let's just say that we've learnt a couple of things this week: first, Big Brother really is watching us; second, just like the rest of us, Big Brother has to take the occasional leak.

Is this the steamiest correspondence since General John Allen, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, sent a blizzard of "suggestive" emails to a Florida socialite?

Is there a pattern here? (Before he hit the send button several thousand times, Allen was in line to become Nato's supreme commander; now he's languishing in retirement.)

Is this, as Dunne's nemesis Winston Peters claims, the smoking gun?

You be the judge.

PD: Can we just establish the ground rules? This is strictly between you, me and the 59,000 people who work for the NSA, okay?

AV: Fine by me. You're obviously troubled by the fact that GCSB has been spying on New Zealanders so why not leak the report to me so we can expose this outrage?

PD: To leak or not to leak, that is the question. Changing the subject for a minute: how do women avoid waking up with their hair looking a fright? Sometimes I look like an enraged cockatoo first thing in the morning. I've got enough on my plate without having bad hair days.

AV: You could try a hairnet. You were paraphrasing Hamlet there. You know what his problem was, don't you? He procrastinated.

PD: Well, young lady, I can assure you I don't have that problem. When the time comes, as it does every three years, to decide where my political allegiances lie, I don't dither. I work out what's best for the nation and Peter Dunne, not necessarily in that order, and make a decision.

AV: That's all very well, but the clock's ticking on this. The issue's on a lot of people's minds after the Kim Dotcom saga, so we should strike while the iron's hot.

PD: I had a terrible night's sleep. You know why? Because I couldn't get this song out of my head: Six Months in a Leaky Boat by Split Enz. It's got a couple of lines I really relate to: "Aotearoa, rugged individual, glisten like a pearl at the bottom of the world." Does that remind you of anyone?

AV: Not off the top of my head. So having not slept on it, where have you got to with the report?

PD: Still thinking about it. The hairnet was a complete flop, by the way.

AV: It was just a suggestion. You've been thinking about it for quite a while now. I'm starting to get the feeling I shouldn't hold my breath.

PD: Keep your hair on, young lady. That's a pun - get it? I'm just working my way through it in the thorough, methodical manner that's got me where I am today. Would you say Andrea is an unusual name? I don't think I know any other Andreas. Bruce Forsyth had an assistant called Andrea - or was it Anthea? - on The Generation Game. Remember him? "Nice to see you, to see you nice." That was his catch-phrase. When I was Googling, I came across a poem called Andrea del Sarto, although that Andrea was a man. Apparently it's about an artist who loses his integrity because he's obsessed with trying to please a manipulative woman.

AV: What are you trying to say?

PD: If I leak this report to you, will you respect me in the morning?

AV: Thanks for the report, although a covering note would've been nice.

PD: What are you talking about?

AV: The GCSB report. You just sent it to me.

PD: Good grief, I must've just hit the wrong button. Bloody computers. Seeing I didn't mean to send it, I trust you'll delete it without reading.

AV: That would make a good Tui's ad.

PD: Please confirm that you've deleted the report.

G-mail: This is an automatically generated response. Your email has been returned as the address it was sent to no longer exists.

- NZ Herald

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