There's an old Yorkshire saying that goes, "Where there's muck there's brass."

It's been that sort of political week although in this case the muck and brass have little to do with each other - or maybe they do.

The muck was hurled at the Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee by a yobbo who didn't like the cut of his cloth. It spoiled what was a moving memorial to the 185 people who lost their lives in the Christchurch earthquake five years earlier.

John Howland admitted assaulting Brownlee, but won a lot of sympathy because he lost his 14-year-old son in the quake. Those of us who criticised Howland for his outburst were pilloried on social media as heartless.


But his sister-in-law Karen Andrews says his actions were premeditated, embarrassing, humiliating and totally undermined her nephew's memory, a boy she raised.

She said Howland doesn't live in Christchurch, doesn't own a house there and has never had any insurance or EQC issues to worry about. And Karen Andrews said not to be fooled by the grieving father line, and she believes it's guilt that he wasn't there for the 14-year-old who was crushed by masonry falling on a bus.

She said she was disgusted beyond words that her nephew's memory came to this, he'd be ashamed.

On a lighter topic, there was plenty of brass coming from the pockets of the almost 40 thousand who coughed up to buy the hitherto unheard of Awaroa Beach, helped out by a private donor with a further $350,000 from the Government.

No sooner than the deal was done Conservation Minister Maggie Barry had the audacity to declare when the beach passed into the Abel Tasman National Park - as it's now set to do - water taxis and the like will be charged to land on it. It'll no longer be free as it was when it was in private hands.

In the one breath Barry said it has a delicate ecological balance that had to be preserved but in the next she said DoC had wanted to buy it for the past ten years but didn't believe its biodiversity and ecological values warranted the two million plus price tag.

So in her case it seems to ring true, where there's muck there most certainly is brass!

Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's political editor.
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