Opinion: Potholes. Fiscal holes. The holes in Labour’s leaky buckets. The holes in our teeth that the Greens want to fix by giving us all free dental care. Holy moly. That’s what you might call a surfeit of political holes. Which brings us, reluctantly to, er, Grant Robertson’s hole.
That particular hole was dug by opposition deputy leader Nicola Willis, who gets the prize for the political faux pas of the year. She also pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of turning holes, which are inherently boring, into a stand-up comedy turn – if inadvertently.
In a question aimed at Finance Minister Robertson, she asked in the House: “How big is his hole?”
Oops. Willis had meant his government’s financial hole; instead, she’d fallen into quite another: “I’m really sorry to all the New Zealanders who are disappointed with that image,” she said.
Robertson responded with good humour, shouting: “That is not in the public interest, I can assure you!” When asked later about his hole, he responded with a very cute eye roll. He can be playful, a trait seldom seen in a finance minister.
Willis, again if inadvertently, turned the usually tetchy debating chamber into a place of rare shared good humour. She deserves another prize for accidentally pulling off that feat.
It couldn’t last. Two minutes later, the Knights of the Round Pothole returned to the-less-than-illuminating debate about who had the biggest hole. “Yours is bigger than ours.” “No, it isn’t.” “Yes, it is.” And so on and so on.
What could be more boring than holes? Try roading. Then try combining roading with holes. That is a sentence that is impossible to write without nodding off. There are those bloody potholes, the ones the Leader of the Opposition, Christopher Luxon, and his team of road construction workers ‒ otherwise known as his caucus ‒ are going to fill. There is, according to Labour, an enormous pothole in the middle of National’s costings of its just-announced $24.8 billion transport plan to build 13 roads it says – presumably with no pun intended – have “national significance”. Labour says National’s budget has a ginormous hole of at least $2.8 billion.
There is, according to National, an enormous pothole in Labour’s plans for light rail in Auckland. For the riveting details of the disputed costings, go down some other rabbit hole. Some of us still retain a modicum of a desire to live. Because trying to keep up with all of this is like driving endlessly around a loop road while trying to stay awake. The only thing you can do is turn up the car stereo to drown out the droning.
There are as many songs about roads as there are new roading policies. You could play them on a loop while you’re stuck on that loop road, starting with The Long and Winding Road before finding yourself on the Highway to Hell.
In parts foreign, there are places you can go – if you are daft enough – to have a pedicure performed by nibbling, toothless fish. They suck on your toes, nibbling away at your old skin. Do not Google images of this. It looks utterly disgusting and evokes unwanted images of Fergie having her toes sucked by that Texan millionaire she was philandering with. I’m really sorry to all the New Zealanders who are disappointed with that image. Because, barf.
Here, we have toe-sucking minnows, too: the minor parties who are snacking on the extremities of the big parties.
Watch out, Chris. Act is polling at 14 % in the latest Roy Morgan poll. That pedicurist, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, and his party, are polling at 5%, enough to put Peters the piranha back in the parliamentary fish tank again. Nibble, nibble.
Would Luxon go into coalition with the piranha? He fuddled the question:
“They’re not in Parliament, and they’re not above the threshold. And so it hasn’t been a consideration,” he said before the latest poll. That is not nibbling at an answer. It is quibbling.
Does anyone know why Peters is so intent on being back in any position of power? Does he? He is nudging 80. He’s achieved the almost soaring heights of political power. He’s been a deputy prime minister. He’s been the treasurer. He’s never going to be the prime minister. He likes fishing. He could just go fishing.
Trawling about inside Peters’ head is futile. It must be like a cage full of ferrets all chasing each other’s tails. If Peters had a spirit animal, it would be a ferret, one that would shoot up your trouser leg and nip at your bits as soon as look at you. Peters should keep one as a companion animal, though he’d better not take it to work.
Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has been banned from taking her Staffordshire terrier, Teddy, to work with her. She calls Teddy her “fur baby”.
Does American President Joe Biden call his German shepherd, Commander, his fur baby? Commander, in his time at the White House, has bitten 10 people. He is not a lap dog then, we can fairly safely assume.
If Prime Minister Chris Hipkins had a fur baby it would be a ginger tom cat, fed exclusively on sausage rolls. It would look friendly and furry but would have claws.
Nicola Willis would have a Siamese cat, slinky and clever and adept at charmingly slipping its way through those labyrinthine corridors of Parliament.
Act leader David Seymour would have an axolotl named Fred. Just because that’s the sort of pet a libertarian would have. It’s his right to make a free and dotty choice of pet.
Greens co-leader James Shaw would want something endangered so he could save it, like a Māui dolphin or hoiho, the yellow-eyed penguin. Both would be fun to play with in the bath.
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer should definitely get herself a kiore. They’re cute, and she could keep it in that big, black top hat she gets about in.
Luxon looks like a dog man, but after failing to correct the spelling of a bunch of primary school kids on a Hamilton stop-and-chat last week, he should be made to keep a dog called “Kat”.
It would be in good company. Unlike Wellington’s council building, Parliament has so many dogs running around it is more like a doggy daycare centre. Which would make banning pets from Parliament as quixotic as National’s proposed plan to ban cellphones from schools.
When did prohibition ever work? In the olden days some of us used to hide in the bushes, fagging on illicit menthol cigs. Now we’d be hiding in the bushes, vaping, sexting boys on our smuggled-in burner phones and swapping cute pics of our fur babies.