Week in review: How Green was my meltdown?
Philip Matthews on a week of local and global disasters.
The Green Party chainsaw massacre
Is this an environmental disaster? Sure is. The Green Party lost three of its best and most high-profile MPs in as many days. Increasingly disgusted at co-leader Metiria Turei's benefit fraud story, distinguished MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon put an ultimatum to the leadership: she goes or we do. The leadership chose Turei and the two were out. But only two days later, so was Turei. She was driven out either by disastrous poll numbers or a tough set of questions put to her by RNZ, or perhaps both. Can Graham now come back? Can James Shaw lead alone? It is a mess. It has been reported that we need to spend $3 million in Christchurch to save the endangered lamprey. We may also need to save the endangered Green Party.
The nuclear option
Is there a horrible inevitability about war between Donald Trump's USA and Kim Jong Un's North Korea? Words like diplomacy and moderation have been abandoned and stupid macho posturing is compulsory. "Things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?" Trump said of Kim Jong Un, who "has been pushing the world around for a long time". Trump threatened "fire and fury" but worried that was not apocalyptic enough. Can we ramp it up a bit? "The sun will turn black like ash and the seas shall run like blood! You've never seen an end of the world like this one, OK!" Trump will rant soon from a bunker somewhere.
The Hosking effect
Has this happened before? It is definitely another sign of an increasingly nutty election. NZ First leader and New Zealand's third favourite preferred prime minister, Winston Peters, has attacked broadcaster Mike Hosking as unsuitable to host TVNZ's election year leaders' debates. Hosking, argues Peters, is not neutral enough. His political biases are too apparent. "He's spent most of his time attacking one line of political thought and that means he should rule himself out," Peters said. Hosking has repeatedly nailed his colours to National's blue mast and, just the other day, argued that new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is part of "the PC takeover, the blancmange veneer" of the party. But can he put those and other very widely-circulated personal opinions to one side for the sake of a fair debate? Time will tell.
An outbreak of Billmania
The political news is not all about the Left with their effects and their manias, their visits to childhood fish and chip shops and quips about getting Fat Freddy's Drop to play at Parliament. Prime Minister Bill English is also capable of generating ... well, not quite mania, but some polite enthusiasm. English's Christchurch visit was delayed by fog – no metaphor intended – before he opened an engineering faculty at Te Ara and stood on the empty site of what should one day be the Convention Centre. "Bill English's visit to Christchurch on Thursday was like a cup of tea with grandma on a Tuesday morning – safe, sensible and subdued," said Stuff reporter Julian Lee. But we like tea, we like grandma, we like safety.