COMMENT:

Governments, since coalitions were forced on us 23 years ago, are a bit like - and just as scary as - the Fair Isle cardigan mum used to knit for you to keep you snuggly during winter.

Catch a thread on a barbed wire fence though and they begin to unravel - and with the current Beehive crop their red, black-and-white and green cardie is starting to look motley.

Just look at the past couple of weeks, for example.

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Shane Jones tells a forestry conference if they want booty from the Provincial Growth Fund then vote for New Zealand First. Not the sort of behaviour acceptable for a Cabinet minister, although it's not the first time it's been done and it most certainly won't be the last.

An uncomfortable Jacinda Ardern was asked about it and she came as close as she's ever come to admonishing a minister from that party, saying he's going on a break and suggesting he take the Cabinet Manual, the rule book, with him.

Fat chance. The next day he doubled down, threatening utu on those who squealed to the media about it, telling them to wait until Cabinet constraints came off three months out from the next election, and they'll experience the knitting needle treatment. And just to add insult to Ardern's injury, he took his break in Hong Kong, hardly a place to delve into a good behaviour manual.

This coalition cardigan is beginning to look a little threadbare. Photo / Greg Bowker
This coalition cardigan is beginning to look a little threadbare. Photo / Greg Bowker

The black-and-white wool in the cardie's becoming loose, with leaks from New Zealand Firsters showing all is not well in what was the well-oiled Winston tight-as-a-drum machine. They're telling us they would have preferred to go with National - hardly a surprise - and they're giving us a list of those who have signed up to the party which they claim is a shambles.

But the green wool is also starting to unravel, not helped by the one who was gifted the cardie by Peters in the first place. Jacinda Ardern's recent rhetoric would be about as popular with the Greens as Jami-Lee Ross would be at a National Party booze-up.

Her defence of the Crown's 15,000 vehicle fleet including just 78 electric cars, when she'd set a target of the entire fleet being emissions free by mid-2025, is about as realistic as KiwiBuild. And her admonishment of Extinction Rebellion protesters, saying they were blocking bureaucrats going about their environmental business, was one thing but pouring warm water on declaring a climate change emergency, saying it wouldn't mean much, is quite another.

But the red yarn simply wouldn't knit with the green when it came to Labour ministers rightly giving the Greens' Eugenie Sage the bird when it came to her rejection of a company buying land to extend its gold-mining operation in Waihi. The Land Information Minister's decision was overturned by two Labour ministers, a decision supported by Ardern.

Sage has been shafted, crowed her former colleague Catherine Delahunty, now a Coromandel watchdog, who says they're turning the town into a toxic waste dump which will earn $2 billion in exports, and employ 340 people, over the next nine years.

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This coalition cardigan's now beginning to look a little threadbare.