Cabinet minister has got what it takes to make NZ pest free.

The Government's decreed NZ will be predator-free by 2050. That means rats, possums and stoats. Should be do-able. All we need is for everyone to leave the country for a weekend, while DoC let off the pest bomb. Easy.

These predators are introduced species. NZ First apparently oppose the plan, which marks the first time they've ever spoken up in favour of immigrants.

Weird how evolution works. NZ, being a bunch of islands, was so safe, some birds decided they didn't need to fly. As pedestrians, they'd be safe from air disasters. For extra safety, they went nocturnal, loping round in the dark, safe from predators, who knocked off at five. Needless to say, it's all a metaphor for the soft-belly welfare state. Once competition came from overseas, they were eaten alive. But no more.

Now, even if predators were born here, and lived here for generations, their citizenship is about to be revoked. Or should we say, terminated. The question is, how to kill just the predators, and somehow tiptoe around the predatees, the trusting, naive natives?


I imagine the Government's crafty eradication plan is for Cabinet minister Nick Smith to invite predators round to his place, and then offer them some refreshing mouthwash. Before you scroll down to the bottom of this piece to bomb the comments, I apologise, retract and emphasise that I'm joking.

I only dare joke because there was no permanent injury - and while it's clearly unfortunate that Nick Smith mistook paint-stripper for mouthwash - on the bright side, his house's walls now smell sexy and minty-fresh.

Like confusing a steam iron for a telephone, a nail-gun for a hair-dryer, or a mothball for a Mentos, swapping paint stripper for mouthwash sounds like a plot Vladimir Putin would hatch to announce a Cabinet reshuffle. In a Siberian climate, the bouquet of turps might be more ambiguous - to the point of subtlety perhaps, where pure intrigue demands that curiosity be satisfied. Oh, what's the harm? Why have we evolved tastebuds, if not to recognise - by gargling - the signature tang of chemical solvents, accelerants for arson, and climate-improving fossil fuels. That's why they're fossils and we're not.

When I first heard about the Nick Smith mishap, I wondered if this was a test you have to pass to become a Cabinet minister. First, there'd be tests of character, party values and patriotism. And then, the final hurdle, known simply as: 'Is This Mouthwash or Paint Stripper?'

Like a wine tasting, a table would have two categories of unmarked glasses. Candidates for ministerial portfolios would gather round, their mouths watering with ambition. Is this one the Listerine Reserve, or the 2015 Turpentine? You only get three guesses. (The next table is laden with piping hot pies. Ministerial hopefuls are scrutinised to see if they blow on them first.)

Speaking of politicians embracing toxic substances, why isn't it a bigger deal than a US warship coming to NZ waters? It seems Labour and National are both fine with it. But it's remarkable, isn't it? Historic, game-changing, etc? The first US warship visit since the 80s when we went anti-nuclear? The law may be out of date, but to allow a nuclear ship into NZ waters is to change NZ law. This normally requires a vote in Parliament. Personally, if we're gonna change NZ law to allow something green that glows, I'd vote for cannabis ahead of weaponised plutonium.

But the Government is inviting the warship without a vote. It's more a hall pass. Our Government will admit the US warship through a loophole, namely that the PM, in legal terms, "is pretty relaxed about it".

I suppose we're all less hippie these days. New Zealand's water purity has become less of a priority. Maybe a drop or two of uranium is what our fisheries need for a bit of a pick-me-up. If we get the dose right, maybe fisheries will bounce back with some tender Godzilla fillets. Plus, we do want to be friends with America. But can't we be friends without them bringing their WMDs to our barbecue?


It's likely the PM will wink that this particular US warship isn't packing nuclear heat. As the Minister of National Security, Minister of Hawaii and the Minister for Merrill Lynch, he certainly thinks it's unfashionable to demonise America.

But to be safe, maybe Nick Smith can give the warship the once-over with his tongue.