Sunday, March 12, 2006

Deborah Coddington: Twenty questions for our MPs

1 Politicians, when interviewed on radio or television, always say, "At the end of the day, I'm concerned about blah blah". Why don't they care about blah blah at the beginning of the day?

2 How long before state airline Air New Zealand (80.2 per cent taxpayer-owned) completes its slide into this country's equivalent of Aeroflot? Do domestic flights run behind schedule so the airport companies can gouge extra car parking fees from passengers? If Air New Zealand has such strict rules about the size and amount of carry-on baggage, why does it allow passengers to trundle aboard with huge suitcases, then delay the boarding of all the obedient, one-bag-only passengers, while said selfish person spends forever trying to stuff their oversize bag into an overhead locker?

3 Six months ago, we had a general election. So who are Chris Auchinvole, Craig Foss, Darien Fenton, Colin King, Anne Tolley, Chris Tremain, Sue Moroney, Paula Bennett, David Bennett (no relation)?

4 And do they go to Wellington just to eat their lunch?

5 If David Benson-Pope's a "pervert" and a "dirty old man" for walking into fourth formers' dormitories and shower blocks and giving them a hurry-along, what does that make every father who's ever opened his teenage daughter's bedroom door and told her to get out of bed and get her lazy butt to school? Will the Hide-Collins double act be accused of making false sexual abuse allegations? Is Judith Collins Act's second MP? (Surely some mistake - Act already has two MPs, Ed.)

6 Has CYFs been merged with the Ministry of Social Development just so David Benson-Pope can be eased aside by Ruth Dyson? It worked with Christine Rankin, didn't it?

7 Was Judith Collins born to wear a corsage? Or was she separated at birth from Judith Tizard?

8 Why has Parliament's bovver boy Trevor Mallard suddenly gone quiet? Has someone finally stuffed a tennis ball in his mouth?

9 Why is new National MP Chris Finlayson known as Shag? Is the acronym for Shadow Attorney General just a tad unkind?

10 Has Michael Cullen no shame? Sam Morgan's $700 million sale of Trade Me to Fairfax was grabbed by the finance minister as a vote of confidence in the New Zealand economy - under his Labour Government, of course. If Cullen really believed his grammatically incorrect press releases, wouldn't he let us have some of our own money back?

11 When Prime Minister Helen Clark launched the Year of the Veteran last week, was she referring to NZ First MP Peter Brown, United Future's Gordon Copeland and Labour's own Dianne Yates?

12 And does that squawking from the Parliamentary Press Gallery mean Barry Soper (aka The Boss of The World) is still alive?

13 Wellingtonian Arts Festival attendees were appalled to see TV3 and TVNZ political reporters brawling in the street like, well, television reporters. So if TV3's spin doctor Roger Beaumont is telling the truth when he says the channel doesn't comment on idle speculation and gossip, why does TV3 bother covering anything from Opposition MPs?

14 What will Georgina Beyer do next? Run for mayor of Wellington a la Carmen? Host her own television talk show a la Oprah Winfrey? Slink back to Carterton with her tail between her legs? All of the above? Not make up her mind?

15 The eternal question debated by philosophical wannabes is if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is listening, does it make a noise? So if retiring Act President Catherine Judd speaks at this month's conference and nobody is in the audience, does she make a sound?

16 At Sir Robert Jones' Summer Party last week, Kham Phomsouvanh, the novelist's live-in lover and mother to two of his children, served fried cicadas collected from Sir Robert's garden to Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters. Could this be called a bauble of office?

17 Why does Conservation Minister Chris Carter insist on shopping at Thorndon's New World supermarket in his short shorts? What have we done to deserve this? Memo to Prime Minister: Please get this man to put his clothes back on before someone has a serious accident with a shopping trolley.

18 Why do we need an Environment Court when we have Carter to overturn decisions reached after 14 years and costing more than $1 million? Why not just cut out the middle men and have the justice minister free all murderers and rapists, the employment minister decide how much we all get paid, Keith Locke let every refugee and terrorist into the country and Pete Hodgson reduce waiting lists by performing surgery himself (he was a vet, after all; surely castrations aren't beyond him)?

19 Aren't there more than 20 questions here?

20 Why do columnists resort to desperate measures like 20 questions when starved of inspiration?


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