Something's happened to the man who was once affectionately, but accurately described, by Jenny Shipley as bombastic.

He's clearly had a conversion on the road to the Foreign Office to become our top diplomat.

Gerry Brownlee may not have widespread popularity out among the great unwashed where he's been known to call a spade a front end loader, but within the political beltway he's liked, one of the more popular figures with his colleagues with his cutting but keen sense of humour.

But Foreign Minister isn't a job you'd point your finger at and say Gerry's a natural fit for it.   He's fiercely loyal though, as was shown when there was a ruckus at a Shipley campaign rally back in 99 when he acted in a way that seemed to come naturally, like a bouncer physically bundling a noisy protester out of a hall, ending up in court and being ordered to pay the heckler eight and a half grand for his discomfort.


And with his current gig, Bill English would do well to keep him away from Finland, considering he once, with his tongue unnoticeably embedded in his cheek, referred to Finns as uneducated, unemployed murderers who don't respect women.   It was in response to Labour's idea that this economy should be modelled on Finland's.  It moved the Finnish Foreign Minister to muse that Brownlee probably doesn't even know where Finland is and perhaps it's better it stays that way.

As our new top diplomat, Brownlee would do well to understand the layout of airports considering he'll be visiting a lot of them in the coming months.   Understanding the difference between an exit and entry door would be a good start.

But English has checked him in, putting his political baggage in the hold, hoping it won't reappear on the carousel anytime soon.

His first assignment was of course proscribed, to our Aussie cousins to try and find out why we've been squabbling so much in recent years.   Why they're treating us like black sheep rather than being on the same field as their merinos, like we used to be.

Brownlee told us he was going to find out whether there are any more shocks in store and why we were blind sided by their decision to treat kiwi students there the same as foreigners, tripling their fees.

Dwarfing their Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Brownlee sounded like a lamb, telling us the move was part of their Budgetary process which of course isn't open to international negotiations.     So it seems, that's okay then.

They say imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery, and as a parting shot he did just that, offering Bishop hope for the future, referring to her publicly as Prime Minister!