Credit where credit's due. This might not be the most deceitful New Zealand Government of the past 50 years but it's certainly the most brazenly deceitful. If there were to be awards for sneering-in-your-face dishonesty; for being deliberately misleading and for sweeping inconvenient truths under the carpet, the Class of 2012 would already be assured of the silverware. Seldom, in the field of shameless chicanery, has one Government achieved so much.
The only remaining question is how many imaginery "Shiftys" our National-led coalition deserve. They can certainly look forward to multiple nominations for their performance over the Sky City scandal, in which they're blatantly exchanging Government policy for the equivalent of a brown paper bag full of money. The PM's declaration that he wasn't, before conceding in his next breath that he'd actually initiated proceedings, also puts him in line for Best Accidental Comic.
Biggest Hypocrite? Bill English is already tipped to win this one after his recent effort on the Paid Parental Leave issue. His insistence that the proposal will be vetoed without discussion was a delightful piece of phony austerity, particularly in light of his own track-record. "Double Dipton" we used to call him, so opportunistic and carefree was he over taxpayer money. But, oh no. Far too responsible a man to tolerate the excesses of more PPL.
Yes, previous New Zealand Governments have been as two-faced and insincere, there's no doubt about that. But I can't remember one that's been quite as willing to laugh in the face of its constituents. Roger Douglas was effectively a double-agent in David Lange's reign; Rob Muldoon was ugly and intemperate. But no-one could hold a candle to this lot in terms of being so happily dodgy. No-one else has been so honestly dishonest.
The news the Nats will allow the police to take New Zealand's domestic violence statistics out of the public domain, so that they'll no longer feature in our annual crime records, only highlights the bankrupt direction in which we're heading. The claimed justification, if you can call it that, is to avoid any unfavourable comparisons with the previous data collection system. In other words, police believe hiding the relevant information is better than letting us know what's happening.
It beggars belief they should be allowed to get away with this. To think, one of the chief contributors to our now endemic problem of domestic violence was the cloak of silence under which it used to be able to flourish. Now our Government seems to be reverting to that state of secrecy, where violence between family members is treated no differently than any other type of unlawful violence. Why? Because then it won't be viewed here as the festering sore it undoubtedly is.
But we need not stop there. Nick Smith presided over steep ACC levy increases and a body that was playing fast and loose with genuine claimants. Next thing we know he's allowing his influence and ministerial letterhead to be used by a friend accused of trying to extort money from the corporation. Key, also our Minister of Tourism, champions a 100% Pure message overseas, while at the same time preparing to mine some of our most beautiful conservation land.
These guys aren't even bullsh*t artists; they could never be accused of being that cunning. To call them Machiavellian would be to spit on Niccolò Machiavelli's grave. That's why, if there were to be a prize for saying one thing, doing another, and thinking no-one had noticed, they'd have to win it hands down. New Zealand's most openly dishonest Government? The Shifty would have to go to them. No-one else would come close.
» Read more of Richard Boock in the Sunday Star Times.
» Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardboock.
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- Auckland Now