The many faces of a politician

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 06/03/2014

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OPINION: While John Key was pulling a ‘‘derp’’ face, Judith Collins was carrying an expression that would curdle milk.

Gerry Brownlee, meanwhile, was doing an about face.

If Tuesday was not so super for David Cunliffe and his Labour party, Wednesday was woeful for the Nats.

The gleeful sniggering on the Right about Cunliffe’s use of secret trusts for receiving political donations died away as revelations about Judith Collins surfaced. She was forced to defend a visit to a dairy company, of which her husband is a director, while on a taxpayer funded trip to China. 

Oravida, a National Party donor, had claimed on its website that she had endorsed its products – proving that drinking milk is not always good for you.

Key insisted over and over again that his justice minister had broken no Cabinet rules. 

But explaining is losing, after all. And at that point he said: ‘‘I go to a lot of things where I say I use your toilet paper, or whatever it might be,’’ it was clear National’s day had gone down the toilet.

While Christchurch was facing its worst storm in 100 years, Key had had a pleasant morning, clowning around with the students of Wellington’s Victoria University. He’s done planking and selfies and has chachacha chachacha chachacha chow-ed along to The Fox song, so gurning into a camera was no big ask for the obliging Key.  However, it was a visual ‘‘doh’’ - disability groups find the gesture offensive.

Back at Parliament, things got even more tricky, to borrow a phrase from Key. Collins was flustered, defensive and on the back foot over Oravida. 

And Brownlee was left red-faced and furious after under-stating the number of requests from Labour MPs to the Earthquake Commission on behalf of their constituents. He said there were five, in reality there were more than 200.

A humiliating apology will follow – in the same week he publicly blasted the Opposition for ‘‘tub-thumping’’.

Amy Adams was answering on his behalf. She’d been having some fun after a Labour staffer accidentally emailed her some draft communications policy. But her smile grew ever more tight-lipped as Labour MP after Labour MP tabled correspondence mis-directed by the Government – including an email from her own office. Suddenly Clare Curran’s much mocked ban on email auto-fill didn’t look like such a bad idea.

After a dire couple of weeks, Labour was finally landing some blows. It was short lived. By tea-time, Cunliffe was again on the defensive – this time over a bare trust which he failed, for months, to include in the MPs’ register of pecuniary interests.

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It was bound to pull Key’s ‘‘derp face’’ back into that familiar grin.


- Fairfax Media

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