Things in Government have taken on the distinct hue of a Dr Seuss-esque rhyme, with hats flying all over the place.

Labour itself is the Cat in the Hat frantically trying to keep multiple items from crashing to the ground while NZ First and the Greens are Thing One and Thing Two, causing chaos and leaving an almighty mess for Labour to clear up.

NZ First ministers in particular have had the hat rack on high rotation as leader Winston Peters and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones swap hats sometimes several times in one appearance.

Jones is a fan of hats - he has two regulars, a fedora for summer and a rather strange leather number for winter. He also has his "Make NZ Great Again" cap which sorely needs to acquaint itself with a rubbish bin.


He has tripled that number. So far we have been told Jones was wearing a cone of silence, and then his personal view hat, and then his minister's hat when he suggested Fonterra's board chair John Wilson should consider fresh pastures.

That call was first made at a meeting at Fieldays which was closed to media, then to media, and then in Parliament as a minister when he was asked about it by his rivals.

Meanwhile, Peters has been in the hinterland between speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and speaking as Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters in Parliament.

In between all of this, he has his "private citizen" hat for the legal action he is taking over the leak of his superannuation details.

The confusion at one point prompted the Speaker to direct him to answer a question again: "in the Prime Minister's voice."

It also prompted an extended discussion about whether ministers had any other hats at all after National's Gerry Brownlee asked for a timetable on what hats different ministers would be wearing at any given time.

National itself had come under fire for claiming various ministers were not responsible for things they might have said or done when they were not acting as a minister.

The Green Party too has had a hard lesson in the truism of the King Henry IV's lament "uneasy is the head that wears a crown".


Poor old Eugenie Sage found herself signing off on approval for a Chinese-owned company to buy land to expand the Otakiri Springs water-bottling plant near Whakatane.

This prompted cries of "sellout" from Green members, breaching the Greens' views about foreign ownership of New Zealand land and foreigners bottling and exporting New Zealand water for near nought.

Sage's explanation that she was wearing her ministerial hat rather than her Green Party hat fell rather flat.

Jones' broadside of Fonterra was prompted by the number three, which is the percentage of support NZ First has in the polls.

While Peters himself has been here before and has nerves of steel about such numbers, Jones is more sensitive to numbers below five.

He is resorting to that oft-used desperate technique of politicians from small parties to get attention: saying dramatic things.

It also brings to mind that other saying about hats: all hat, no cattle.

NZ First's best chances of survival lies in doing two things. The first is shoring up its own base and it has done little to do that since the election.

Of his many hats, the one Peters has worn least is that of NZ First leader and the Budget did little to deliver to NZ First's core constituencies of the elderly and anti-immigration crowds.

The second is convincing some National voters if they do not vote for NZ First they will be facing a Labour – Greens government after 2020 – a scenario which is perfectly plausible on current polling.

Meanwhile, Peters' soothsayer hat will face a test today when the new GDP figures are released.

When Peters stood to anoint the Labour-NZ First Government last year, he prefaced his announcement with a lengthy prophesy that "dark days" were ahead for the economy, and he did not want to be blamed for it because it was coming no matter what.

When he was asked for any evidence this week that he had been correct, Peters pointed to the weather – in particular the long, dry summer.

He said if this week's release of GDP growth for the March quarter brought the bad news that is expected, it was still not the Government's fault but rather the sun's fault.

It is true the weather impacts on the economy, but it was rather reminiscent of former police minister and now Dame Annette King's claim in 2008 that a long, hot summer and the full moon were responsible for a spate of homicides.