Our source has hacked the Government's computers to provide Herald Travel with this secret transcript of a meeting between the Prime Minister (some bloke called John Key) and the Tourism Minister (also some bloke called John Key) while last week's Anti-Travel Tax was been brewed up.
The charge on people flying into and out of New Zealand's airports was announced in last week's Budget. It'll add about $22 to your next trip.
PM John Key: Thanks for dropping by, JK.
TM John Key: No problem, JK.
PMJK: Now look, I'm not going to beat about the bush, or mince words - or mince about the bush beating words - I'll cut straight to the point. What most New Zealanders want to know is this: Who's going to win Dancing With the Stars?
TMJK: You, presumably, JK.
PMJK: Heh ... Aren't you a wily charmer? ... Anyway, while the public is preparing itself for a new era of reality TV/current affairs, I'm launching an Anti-Travel Tax. After all, what's the point of ruling the Beehive for seven years if you don't get to play at being Muldoon once in a while? The money raised will help cover the cost of border protection.
TMJK: Presumably then, we'll be putting a similar charge on people sailing into the Chatham Islands, to cover the $52m cost of their new wharf ...
PMJK: Er, no. We'll pay for that out of the general tax take. It'd be bonkers not to.
TMJK: Well, boss, as Tourism Minister, it falls to me to defend the interests of the sector and argue that an Anti-Travel Tax will stifle local operators just as their industry emerges from the GFC and it'll make life tougher for the middle-class Kiwi battler - the mums and dads who've saved their pennies to splash out on a holiday on the Gold Coast.
PMJK: Who's bloody side are you on, pal?
TMJK: Yours, JK! At least the timing is good - I'll be able to announce the new Anti-Travel Tax when I'm talking to representatives of NZ's tourism industry in Rotorua, at the big tourism conference the day before the Budget. After all, it's their businesses that will be affected if tourists from overseas are put off coming here because of it.
PMJK: Eh? You mean front up? No need for that. Just attend the conference, mouth platitudes about how great the industry is, then scarper to Wellington where Bill English can deliver the bad news.
TMJK: You're the boss, Boss.
PMJK: Yes. Yes, I am.