Rabbits aren’t our only pests

Rabbits aren't our only pests


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Rabbits aren’t the only designated pests we can’t quite eradicate in this country. James Elliott looks at why we can’t shed Colin Craig from the news cycle, and why we can’t seem to get Trevor Mallard under control. 

It’s been a huge news week. Tuesday (May the fourth …) was Star Wars Day, yesterday was International No Diet Day, and today is World Password Day.

And to cap it all off this week is Hedgehog Awareness Week. At least it is in the UK where the hedgehog is protected as an endangered species. In New Zealand the hedgehog is a designated pest that we’re trying to eradicate. On the subject of designated pests, it seems we can’t eradicate Colin Craig from the news cycle. If you don’t know who Colin Craig is, I envy you. You can skip the next bit and start reading again at “However we can at least make use of ‘Two of Me’ …”.

Colin Craig was in the news this week because the Court of Appeal upheld a designation from the High Court that the former Conservative Party leader sexually harassed his former press secretary. That makes three judges and one appellate court that have confirmed that designation. This saga involving multiple law suits dates back to the 2014 general election, making it older than the 385,000’ish New Zealanders who have been born since September 20, 2014.

The first of Colin Craig’s poems is called ‘Beautiful’, which it definitely isn’t, and the second is called ‘Two of Me’ which is two too many.

As grim as that statistic is we can at least take heart that when those bright-eyed young New Zealanders come to prepare for their GCSE English literature exam, none of them will be exposed to the two poems that Craig penned in late 2014. The first is called ‘Beautiful’ which it definitely isn’t, and the second is called ‘Two of Me’ which is two too many.

However, we can at least make use of ‘Two of Me’ as a diary entry for the week for Trevor Mallard. The first Trevor Mallard is the Speaker of the House who, in December last year, apologised to a former Parliamentary staffer for the distress and humiliation caused by Mallard conveying the incorrect impression that the staffer had been accused of rape. That apology accompanied a taxpayer-funded $330,000 settlement of a defamation claim brought by the former staffer.

The second Trevor Mallard is the Minister responsible for the Parliamentary Service who appeared before what was universally reported as a “fiery” select committee on Tuesday night, and under the cloak of Parliamentary privilege accused the same staffer of a serious sexual assault. It was the politico-parliamentary equivalent of having someone else stitch up a nasty wound that you have caused and then sneaking back into the operating theatre to pull out those stitches and pepper the wound with salt.

Barry Soper reminisced about shooting ducks in a fairground arcade, and stayed in the fairground reminiscence zone to sign off with a somewhat strained reference to putting ping pong balls into the mouth of a clown – Mallard being the clown, I think.

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Newsroom’s Jo Moir reported that prior to the debate, senior Labourites had counselled Mallard to take a moderate stance. They failed, Mallard flailed and was assailed by the Prime Minister, who said that she had “serious concerns” about Mallard’s conduct, that his conduct was “totally inappropriate” and that his conduct did not meet the standards she expects. As at midday today, Trevor Mallard remains the Speaker.

As expected, mallard duck analogies came thick and fast from the commentariat. Tova O’Brien referenced the duck hunting season. Barry Soper reminisced about shooting ducks in a fairground arcade, and stayed in the fairground reminiscence zone to sign off with a somewhat strained reference to putting ping pong balls into the mouth of a clown – Mallard being the clown, I think.

With the duck analogies all but exhausted, I’m going with the International Union of Conservation of Nature which designates the mallard as a “species of least concern”. Or as Shane te Pou tweeted “Hey beltway people no one cares beyond the beltway about the Mallard issue”. That’s true. There’s a global pandemic on, we have a health system that’s failing without having to manage a Covid outbreak, and then there’s the crisis we’re having about the housing crisis – the housing crisis crisis.

If you’re a boomer you’ll probably remember Robert Muldoon as the Prime Minister who got drunk one night in 1984, called a snap election and lost to David Lange. And if you still read the NZ Herald in print you’ll probably remember Robert Muldoon as just the kind of leader we need to make New Zealand great again.

So, spare a thought for Finance Minister Grant Robertson who’s preparing to deliver the Budget on the 20th of May. It’s fair to say there is a range of views as to how well he’s performed to date as Finance Minister. This week Richard Prebble opined in a column for the NZ Herald that Grant Robertson is the worst Finance Minister since Robert Muldoon – which raises a couple of questions. Who is Richard Prebble? And who was Robert Muldoon? Richard Prebble is a former Labour Party member and Minister who then became leader of the ACT Party in the days before it was compulsory for the leader of the ACT party to appear on Dancing With The Stars.

Who Robert Muldoon was depends on what generation you’re in. If you’re Gen X or younger you’ll probably confuse Robert Muldoon with Patrick Muldoon, who played the role of Zander Barcalow in Starship Troopers. If you’re a boomer you’ll probably remember Robert Muldoon as the Prime Minister who got drunk one night in 1984, called a snap election and lost to David Lange. And if you still read the NZ Herald in print you’ll probably remember Robert Muldoon as just the kind of leader we need to make New Zealand great again.

Have a peaceful weekend.

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