THE Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill, stands by his decision to buy in a $10 million fleet of Maseratis for the Apec conference he recently hosted. Columnist Frank Greenall imagines a conversation that might have taken place ...
PM: "Top of the conference agenda is climate change. We Pacific nations float on the front line of rising sea levels and total climate collapse. If we don't move fast, we're dog tucker.
"Every second counts, so the more seconds the Maseratis could save in moving leaders between our new conference centre and their hotels and cruise ships, the sooner this gnarly climate change nut can be cracked. And those Masers stonk like Exocets on steroids."
Question: "What's going to happen to them now, Mr Prime Minister?"
PM: "They'll be on permanent standby. I and my ministers have lots more international climate change conferences to attend, so we'll save even more precious seconds getting to and from the airport."
Question: "Aren't they meant to be on-sold to local buyers?"
PM: "Are you kidding? Apart from the main drag and the port and airport roads, all other routes are just pothole bombsites. Besides, local riff-raff would try to trash them."
PM: "Oh, you know … they're starving, homeless, plagued by major contagious diseases, prey to murderous gangs and have a life expectancy of about 23 — all the usual stuff people get brassed off about and want to take out on innocent Maseratis."
Question: "Mr Prime Minister, you mentioned cruise ships. What were they doing there?"
PM: "Well, the Russians, Chinese, Australians and Americans insisted on taking over an entire hotel each, which pretty much screwed the local supply. So we had to put up the also-rans in the cruise ships.
"Also, we have responsibilities as leaders. Cruise ships chew through the energy equivalent of your average Mongolian coal mine every 24 hours, so it's imperative we emphasise just how wasteful these mothers are. Best way to do that is by high-profiling their wastage right here in Port Moresby, so I scheduled a serious onboard plenipotentiary climate change meeting, which coincidentally dovetailed with the Captain's Table Happy Hour."
Question: "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand coughed up $15 million to be used mainly for security purposes. That's an awful lot of money just for security. Wouldn't it have been better spent on health and education and fixing roads?"
PM: "I thought I'd made myself clear — the main priority here is the Maseratis. They underpin our entire climate change strategy. If I and my ministers can't shave crucial seconds getting to and from the airport for upcoming climate change conferences, planetary collapse is inevitable. So a piddling 15 mill to keep the Masers safe from the riff-raff is a steal."
Question: "Mr O'Neill, today's digitalised world means actual face-to-face meetings are no longer necessary. You know … conference-calling, Skyping, big screens, that sort of thing. Wouldn't it have been better to have just done Apec electronically?"
PM: "Absolutely not! That's why we insisted all delegates flew in, preferably in bespoke airliners. As you know, these babies burn a trainload of scarce oxygen and fossil fuels every second they're aloft, plus trash the atmosphere bigtime with toxic exhausts. What better way for leaders to showcase air travel's dire climate change threat than with some gratuitously profligate Apec commuting?"
Question: "Was anything else discussed?"
PM: "No time. The Maseratis were flat-tack getting delegates back out to the airport after the first day. By an uncanny coincidence, it seemed everyone had a grandmother who'd suddenly died."
Email letters@ whanganuichronicle. co.nz to have your say.