The Secret Diary Of ... Maggie Barry
This time it's Maggie Barry's diary that attracts the attention of Stephen Braunias in May Contain Facts.
Enjoyed a wonderful weekend at the National Party conference in Auckland. Five hundred people were in attendance. There were numerous races; 497 were white. John Key laid out his vision for a brighter future for New Zealand. He will sell our state assets to Kiwi investors. All they have to do is phone an 0800 number and talk to someone in a call centre in Mumbai.
John approached me afterwards and asked, “Do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?”
“Lay your potatoes out in a tray,” I said, “and get them sprouted.”
“So what you're saying is that we should put up seed money for research and development. I agree. Do you have any other policy advice?”
“At the moment there is not a lot that needs to be done with your lawn.”
"You're talking about public servants, who we trample underfoot. But surely you agree with the Government's commitment to making them redundant?”
“Mow when the grass is dry.”
He nodded, and said, “In other words, make them redundant in time for summer. Thank you, Maggie! I admire your good, solid sense.”
I often think back to those empty years when I worked for Morning Report on National Radio. I wasn't contributing to society. I wasn't helping to build a brighter future for New Zealand. I just sat in a studio and asked meaningless questions.
Today, in Parliament, I looked at a piece of paper someone handed me, and asked Bill English, “What progress is the Government making in building a more competitive and productive economy?”
Bill said, “Good progress.” Then I asked, “What measures has the Government taken since 2008 to build a more competitive and productive economy?”
Bill said, “A large number of measures.”
Finally, I asked, “What is the focus of the Government's business growth programme, and how will it contribute to building a more productive and comp . . . comp . . . I can't make out the handwriting.”
Bill said, “Oh, sorry.”
Sat in Parliament and found myself glaring at Labour's Jacinda Ardern. She's willowy, intelligent, stylish, young, funny, sincere, attractive, hard-working, mature, capable of incisive thought - but above all, she's childless.
Interrupted her contribution to the debate on paid parental leave by reminding her that I was a mother and she wasn't, and therefore she didn't have a clue what she was talking about.
I don't know if it wiped the smirk off her face, but it sure widened it on mine.
What a morning! The public totally backed my comments about Jacinda Ardern's womb. The phone didn't stop ringing and the emails didn't stop arriving! Eventually, though, the phone stopped ringing and the emails stopped arriving. It was around about the time old people take their mid-morning nap.
Ran into John Key in a corridor, and told him, “First comes spring and summer, but then we have autumn and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.”
“Spring and summer.”
“Yes,” I said.
“But then autumn and winter.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Then spring and summer.”
I said, “It's as though it's on endless repeat, like Maggie's Gardening Show, which plays every weekday at 6.30pm on the Heartland channel.”
“I like to watch,” he said.
» Stephen Braunias is an award-winning writer and author of four books.
The Southland Times