Like the dollars on MP’s travel expense accounts this year has almost vanished.

Like the dollars on MP’s travel expense accounts this year has almost vanished. The spectacular and the lamentable – it’s time for a quick flick back through the best and the worst of 2009. An inside out prize-giving if you like:

First up is the prize for the most spectacular bank robbery of the year – you have to hand it to Leo Gao and Kara Hurring. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think they managed to walk away with about 6 million that the bank deposited into their account and then write about it on Facebook without actually getting caught. In their impotent rage Westpac went and fired the worker on the bottom of the rung who made the mistake with the decimal point. The first mistake incidentally, in 30 years or so in her working history. The lamentable employer award is taken out therefore by Westpac.

The second prize for most spectacular bank robbery (although it did turn out to be a failed attempt) would have to go to Westpac and BNZ – of doing New Zealanders out of 971 million and 560 million dollars respectively. By effectively paying only 6% corporate tax in complicated deals that only tax oracles can understand the banks almost carried out the most brilliant robbery of all. Listening to National Radio announcing that Inland Revenue had won the Westpac case it was the first (and no doubt last) time I found myself uttering the words “Go IRD!” At last. They’re going for the big boys. The fact that the banks nonchalantly shrugged and said they’d ‘take it in their stride’ left me wondering why, if they were so obviously wallowing in dough, was it so hard for them to lower the interest rates just a little for struggling home owners. No wonder Westpac hasn’t gone all out to find Leo and Kara – 6 million is seriously small potatoes by comparison.

Congratulations to Richard Worth (remember him?) for the Lametable Lothario award. For his efforts in the worst publicly conducted affair in New Zealand’s history. Thankfully – his preferred manner of showing interest in women by turning up nude in their hotel rooms of an evening has not been taken up by sensible working men around the country and Mr. Worth has quietly disappeared.

Spectacular community award goes to Kyle Chapman leader of the national front. At the beginning of this year he wanted to establish a community of skinheads in the Canterbury Plains – where they could give refuge to old white guys from the States fleeing the horror of having a president with a brain. In their ‘Land base’ the skinheads would live and love each other while growing veggies, wearing camo gear and fighting the evils of cultural diversity. Go Kyle.

Lamentable marketing campaign would have to go to the guys who came up with the Hanover finance ads. It seems that old farm barn could survive lightening, storms and old guys in hats leaning confidently against its seemingly solid walls. It had withstood the tests of time. Just not Eric Watson’s and Mark Hotchin’s shopping trolley spree. Once every nail, sheet of corrugated iron and piece of number eight wire had been stripped and converted into flash cars and big houses – the barn just toppled right over.

Spectacular survival against all odds awards goes to the New Zealand dotterel. The best discovery of the year has to be the sight of baby dotterels scurrying successfully between the planes at Whangarei airport. Clever little blighters they’ve worked out that a) people or dogs can’t wander all over the airport b) any vermin is stringently controlled and c) planes are noisy but not vindictive or hungry. The little battlers are holding their own and all power to them.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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All I want for Christmas is world peace

All I want for Christmas is world peace. No seriously. This may be helped slightly if the west stopped backing illegitimate regimes in places like Afghanistan – but that looks unlikely in the near future so I may have to ask Santa for something else.
There are a few things I’d like to see less of next year and one of them would have to be Rodney Hide. From dancing queen to being rescued while in a swimming race recently Rodney can’t seem to keep out of the headlines or the lycra. I would like to formally request Santa to take Rodney to go and help him with the other elves until at least this time next year. No, his girlfriend can’t go with him and no Santa is not paying for the trip.

One thing I’d like to see more of is MPs in Northland. Really. Like the Haast Eagle, real live MPs fade to non-existence once the election is over. We hear them on the radio – we see them on the news but how do we know they really exist at all? How do they know that we do?

Another thing I’d like to see in the New Year is for the new stadium to be used as a multi purpose venue. Yes I know we’ve been told that it will be but there will always be those negative people who will say that ratepayers will have forked out millions for two brief 80 minute sessions of international rucking after which we all roll over and have a collective metaphorical cigarette while we work out how we’re going to pay for it all. This sort of attitude only shows a lack of imagination.

I think we’ve been offered a challenge; to find as many different purposes for the stadium as we possibly can. An international Morris Dancers convention would be festive. A food and wine festival that actually showcased all that Northland has to offer the culinary world – look what such events have done for places like Hokitika, Whitianga and Malbourough – it’s about time Northland had a decent one. A soccer championship would also be appreciated – soccer being the fastest growing sport in New Zealand, not known for its incidence of head or spinal injuries and increasingly popular with young girls – Northland now has some top coaches from Chile and Brazil – the stadium would be the perfect venue for them. Kapahaka groups, mobility scooter races - the possibilities are endless. It’s up to us to prove that this council’s promise that the stadium would be used for much more than a couple of games of rugby was a genuine one.

I’d also like to see the kids who painted the mural at the community day in Onerahi at the beginning of this year be given art scholarships paid for by the council workers who painted over their work when they decided it wasn’t to their taste or in the public’s interest to keep their artwork there. I hope that this act of publicly sponsored vandalism didn’t disillusion the youngsters and send them back to tagging.

But most of all I’d like Santa to put a ban on the use of photo shop for all women’s magazines. By digitally nicking and tucking every ageing celebrity and even nubile starlets the trashy magazines that I secretly read are enough to send me online to sell my kidneys in order to get something exotic injected or surgically removed. Don’t the editors realise that everyone knows that Demi Moore is not 15 anymore?

Now that it is officially swim suit season, comparing yourself with the physical unnatural beauty of photoshop lovelies is about as pleasurable as poking a stick in your eye – especially when I consider that if I were to ever make it to one of these magazines that there wouldn’t be any of me that wouldn’t need a serious photo-shop overhaul before I could make it to print. Nope. I’m even beyond digital enhancement – I think I’ll just stick to asking for world peace.

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