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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