Key Political Theatre with Banks and Kim

John Key needs to start channelling Jacques Chirac in dealing with Banks and Kim right now. Chirac had a particular technique that would be useful for the local police called into ratepayers meetings. My friend uses it on her pre-schoolers when they’ve upended paint on the carpet, are involved in various forms of;‘she started’, ‘but she said’ ‘but I didn’t’ when invariably one wets her pants or the other starts crying. When things have gone beyond the rational or reasonable, rationalising or reasoning becomes invalid. She then reverts to her best dictator-with-a-French-accent voice she learnt from Chirac and demands that everyone cease and desist. “Stop eet. Stop eet now!”

It’s worth a look on YouTube.

Chirac, the then President of France is bush-bashing through the crowds of reporters and security people, hustling like only a born politician can and demands of the journos “What do you want me to do? Get back on my plane and go back to Fronce?!”  He is outraged. But not so outraged as to forget to smile at the camera and wave a friendly Bonjour almost simultaneously.

A perfect blend of the image outshining the substance – political theatre in motion.

John Key take note.

People. Seriously. What do you want him to do? Hop back on his space shuttle and rocket back to planet Key? Um. Yes actually, but it’s crucial for him to see, hear or speak no evil of Banks. He must continue refusing to read the police report on the donations for Banksy’s mayoral candidacy whilst murmuring “Move On. Lets all Move On” like a deranged dalek.

While at a South American barbeque recently, it was chastening to be laughed at by Columbians, Mexicans, a Venezuelan and an Argentine. I’d asked; what John Banks meant when he said ‘I want to help you Kimmy?’ What kind of help was he offering? They knew exactly because they deal with those kinds of relationships on a daily basis. When they go wrong someone ends up in a dumpster from which they do not return. It was probably the same kind of help that Shane Jones wanted to offer David Liu. They laughed at me again when I coyly referred to some local issues as ‘conflicts of interest’. It was just plain old ‘corruption’ where they came from but they enjoyed my delicacy. I admonished them for using the ‘C’ word, because of course that doesn’t exist here. They laughed again but stopped, saying it was giving them wrinkles or rather ‘lines of expression.’

Why is anyone surprised?

Banksie’s political hero was Joh Bjelke Petersen – the ex premier of Queensland and one of our most loathed exports principally for his record breaking reign over a local government infamous for its institutionalised corruption. A person, who Jim Hopkins said was the only man who could mistake democracy for dictatorship and get away with it.” Banks cut his political teeth in the WDC, a place where it has become a sport to call people ‘niggers in woodpiles’ and the bizarre and the demeaning has become the wallpaper.

The rational and the reasonable, if critical of the status quo, are simply pushed out.

Helen Clark’s droll comment that Banks ‘wouldn’t know an ethic if he tripped over it’ probably says more about the environment he’d come from than anything else. She described his and his ‘long, old and close friend; Stan Semenoff’s’ bid to buy the Waitangi Hotel all those years ago as a serious conflict of interest. To Banksie – it was probably just business as usual.

John Banks is sure to be jobless by next year.

If we’re not careful, he’ll be back. Please. Stop eet. Stop eet now.

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Lesson from Little Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood was lame! I hadn’t considered that the one in the red hoody had been slower than the rest of the roving targets in the wood possibly contributing to the wolf picking on her.

“Why?” I ask, noting the small person is taking notes and chewing the end of the pencil the way a horse does a fence-post. Theatrical.

Her homework; to write an ‘argument’ about how Red Riding Hood got into so much trouble. I look over her shoulder and read: ‘I believe that LRRH should have known not to speak to strangers especially not a wolf, although if I was little red riding hood I would have spoken to him and if I knew karate I would beet him up.” Nice.

The piano teacher’s droll remark drifts through my head; ‘So much confidence. And so misplaced.”

Annoyed that once again the wolf gets a free pass and the little girl takes the blame for his bad behaviour I suggest that perhaps the wolf is at fault and should be punished as a lesson to other wolves that might get ideas. She looks at me like I’m red riding hood’s even lamer cousin. “ Mum. He’s a wolf. It’s what wolves do.” A pragmatist. She’s going to do better than me in life.

There will be no bitter wailing on the wayside of delusional idealism. I hope this extends in later life to general wolf avoidance rather than trying to change them or sticking round to make them love her.

“Anyway “ she says, “ Red Riding Hood’s Mum should have gone with her. I mean it was nice of her to make the buns and stuff but that doesn’t mean she gets not to go just because she’s busy.” I think of the baking handed over as a free pass not to attend various social events. Guilt flourishes even in the little things. I’m a Mum. It’s what we do.

It’s not the wolf’s fault; continues the wolf’s defence attorney, “The whole hiding the nana in the wardrobe and then dressing up as her – it was a bit over the top. He’s got some problems. Any normal wolf would just eat them both. He didn’t have to get all weird.” Mental illness. Good defence. Late night little girl walkers beware. The thing is, any girl working nights on the rough side of town knows to walk fast, never have hands in pockets and walk like you’ll be a problem if someone tries to deal to you. Mostly you do anything you can not to cop the late night shifts. You certainly don’t wander round smelling the roses with a basket of goodies. Maybe Reddy hadn’t had the rules. “Anyway, Red riding hood saying things like ‘Oh my, what big ears you have,’ is seriously lame and would only wind the wolf up. She should have just left.” I nod. Good point. Don’t go playing psychological games with people who are bigger and scarier than you and who spend their spare time dressed in nana’s nighties. I hide all amusement – the small person is taking this extremely seriously as well she might.

Later, driving home in the early hours after a meeting I see a young grey riding hoodie wandering home by herself. Hands in pockets. Head down. I silently tell her: ‘I know it’s always the wolf’s fault and you have every right to walk here if you want but I’d rather you were tucked up safe in bed. So little lamb, if you’ve got to be out here you’d better grow yourself some wolf skin pretty fast. That – or learn karate'.

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Provincial Council 5 Minute Management

Who’d have thought he had an MBA?!” she said incredulously of a local leader. Me for one. I used to be impressed by MBA’s. Until I found out Eric Watson had one. And Wayne Brown.

MBA’s to me now, are less about excellent management practice by people who’ve been in industry, and all about clandestine cult training in the Machiavellian arts of speculation and the manipulation of statistics. It’s only the owners of them who fail to acknowledge that post the GFC they are, well, toast.

An MBA is the pass to a technocracy from whose management style it will take us about 10 years to recover. A style particularly favoured by local councils and developers for the last 15 years. “Always get on with the person with the money” Is Wayne Brown’s number one rule in his book ‘5 minute MBA.’ If he were a woman there’d be another title he’d be given for this maxim.

The problem is that it’s not the majority who have that kind of money. As John Ralston puts it in his excellent book ‘Voltaire’s Bastards’, ‘These leaders are masters of backstairs battles and withholding information. They are merchants of knowledge, selling it in return for power and set enormous value upon secrecy. Intentionally or otherwise, their methods induce fear among those who must deal with them regularly. Almost without exception they are bullies. Combined with the use of secrecy, it is used to frighten people on the practical level of their incomes, pensions and careers.” It doesn’t favour memory or reflection either and it depends on a highly specialized dialect, unintelligible to normal people therefore depriving them of the vocabulary with which they might complain. Anyone having experienced the displeasure of asking a provincial council for information will know what I’m talking about.

Once you’ve recovered from being beaten around the head with the Official Information Act it feels like being trapped in a Dilbert cartoon; “I Mordac, the Preventer of Information, reject your questions because you used the wrong words and so I feed on your anger and frustration! And now I will eat like a king!!” “Good luck with that. I’ve been dead on the inside since the signing off of the HAC.”

I object to being told by Craig Brown in Sunday’s paper that the biggest thing holding Northland back is apathy, because the apathy is learnt. It’s a rational self-protective response of resignation by the little people to an established elite who have no intention of relinquishing power.

We see the same faces and the same management style repeated over and over again.

If Boards were boyfriends some of these guys would be the town bike. They pop up on almost every one and it’s a merry-go-round of recycled public sector CEO’s and board members that the public seem unable to shake. They can leave behind a train-wreck and rate-payers have to fork out 240K as a thank-you gift. They can oversee a financially ruinous public works blow out in one council and get re-hired in another town as a reward. Just don’t question them about it. ‘The talents of the technocrat do not suit public debate or an open relationship with the people.” This is amply evident when a WDC councillor says of protesting rate-payers at a recent meeting; ‘Ignore them this is our meeting not theirs.” Ralston again; ‘This self-protective, self-satisfied provincialism resembles the dialect and mannerisms of declining aristocracies.”

The biggest thing holding Northland back is a lack of real-world leadership working with, and not at cross-purposes to, the public good.

Unfortunately, what we’ve had is anything but with an ever-burgeoning debt and a litany of lost business opportunities.

If I had an MBA I could tell you why that was a good thing.



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