Home > The Body Politic > 2018 – the year that weirdly was (1)

2018 – the year that weirdly was (1)



In many respects, 2018 was a strange year in politics. From weird gender-focused terminology to ongoing subterranean machinations within the National Party as it came to grips with being in Opposition – 2018 was one for the history books.

The most over-used – and under-explained – word of the year:


Used commonly in gender-related pop-psychology, it was the main rationale used to exclude LGBTQI police from participating in this year’s Auckland Pride Parade. (Though the Parade organisors were ‘generous’ enough to permit Police to participate in the Parade wearing t-shirts, with “Police” printed on them.)

As former mayor and member of Parliament, Georgina Beyer wryly observed;

“It seems ironic to me that out, gay, uniformed police are now told to possibly arrive in mufti of some sort – in other words, pop back in the closet. What’s that about?”

Evidently, police in uniform “triggered” some members of the Pride Parade. Though how and why and who, was never quite explained to us. It’s use was sufficient to present the anti-Police argument.

Perhaps definition of the “t” word was never really required. As the Right uses the term “political correctness” as a short-hand code for something/anything they dislike – “triggered” became a kind of short-hand code for some on the Left.

Greatest disappointment of the year:

See above. The decision of the Pride Parade committee to exclude LGBTQI police from marching in uniform.

It is depressing that some members of the Rainbow Community have forgotten what it feels like to be excluded. Or to be told how to dress.

You cannot have inclusion when some are excluded.

The most arcane language since Latin – political-gender-identity references:

“…anti-semitic transphobic white heteronormative patriarchy…”

Say whut?!

Is that the 21st century way of saying someone is a ‘bigot’?

This is Orwellian ‘Newspeak‘ in reverse. Instead of destroying words and shrinking the language, it is expanded with a truckload of extra adjectives and syllables.

I’ll go with the 20th century version: ‘bigot’. Easier on my well-pounded keyboard.

Most desperate person in the galaxy:

No, not Princess (“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!!”) Leia.

Simon Bridges; to maintain his relevance; to relate to the electorate; to keep his leadership of the Nats. Perhaps Obi-Wan Kenobi can help?

2nd most dangerous disruptor in NZ politics: 

Jamie Lee Ross

1st most dangerous disruptor in NZ politics: 

The person/people pulling Ross’s strings.

The person making ongoing leaks from the National parliamentary caucus.

The most honourable, honest, insighful Person of 2018:

Donald Trump.

(Nah. Just messing with you.)

3rd most dangerous nuclear-armed state:

North Korea

2nd most dangerous nuclear-armed state:


1st most dangerous nuclear-armed state:

USA, under Donald Trump

The Greatest Clear and Present danger to NZ democracy:

The Establishment (aka, the “Deep State”).

Whether covering their arses for the apalling lack of safety at Pike River; Peter Whittle buying his way out of prosecution; no one prosecuted for the collapse of the CTV building; the attack on two Afghan villages by SAS forces in 2010, where civilians were killed; or latest revelations that government departments hired private investigators Thompson & Clark to spy/harass New Zealanders, and unanswered questions of police involvement with Thompson & Clark – something is deeply rotten in the state of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Aside from symbolic “harakiri” by Southern Response’s chairperson, Ross Butler, when is the last time anyone in a high position of authority has been held to account? Prosecuted? Jailed?

And even Butler’s resignation was lamented by former Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, who defended the disgraced executive:

“I have read the report, I think it is not a good report, I think that it is written in a way that has a degree of inflammatory language in it. It is designed to make the big cost of it more palatable. And I think it is a great tragedy a gentleman like Mr Butler has been treated the way he has.”

Without a shred of shame, Brownlee admitted knowing that Southern Response was infiltrating, spying, and illegally recording Canterbury earthquake victims.

We are witnessing the rise and rise of The Untouchable Elite in our country.

Meanwhile, our prisons continue to fill up with poor brown kids; the illiterate; and those with mental health problems.

What is wrong with this picture?!

The 2018 Prize for Most Shameless Arse-covering in NZ:

Gerry Brownlee (see above).

If Brownlee was still Earthquake Recovery Minister in a Bill English-led National government, you can bet that Butler would not have resigned and Southern Response would continue to contract Thompson & Clark to spy on law-abiding people.

The TAB would not be taking bets on this.

Best Quietly Performing Minister of The Year:

Tracey Martin. Minister for Children, Seniors, and Internal Affairs, and associate minister for Education. As minister responsible for crisis-racked Oranga Tamariki, her job is one of the toughest, having to deal with a nine year legacy from the previous National government.

She just gets on with the job without fuss or headline-producing stuff-ups. A NZ First MP, she is one of the Coalition’s most capable ministers.

Best potential far-reaching revolutionary strike against the neo-liberal orthodoxy:

Shane Jones and his new  infrastructure agency. The Coalition has committed to making up under-spending in infra-structure (not just kilometres of new roading projects under National);

“That means ensuring New Zealand can make the timely and quality investments in vital infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, transport networks, water and electricity. And it means being open to innovative solutions to sourcing the capital we need.

We’re already making a significant dent in our infrastructure deficit. Net capital spending in the next five years will be more than double that of the previous five years with the government investing about $42 billion through to 2022.

This is a good start, but we need to do better over the long term and I’m confident the new infrastructure entity will help us really sharpen our planning for the future.”

Alongside reviewing government procurement policies that had been putting unfair financial risks on construction companies – sending many into collapse –  Minister Jones’s new agency signals a seismic change in the role of the State in planning infrastructure.

If the new agency is allowed to develop into a new Ministry of Works 2.0, it would signal a major repudiation of the neo-liberal paradigm that “most of the work that the state does would be much better achieved by the private sector, where market discipline would operate“, as Dr Liz Gordon pointed out in her excellent blogpost on 26 December.

The revolution against the neo-liberal system will not be televised. Instead it will be a little note slipped under the door.

We may achieve the subtle demolition of neo-liberalism before the Right realises what is happening. In effect, the complete antithesis to the noisy Rogernomics juggernaut of the 80s and 90s.

This could be the enduring legacy of not just Shane Jones, but the entire Coalition government itself.

Top Prize for Unmitigated Screw-up for The Year (perhaps the decade?)

The “new improved” bus service in Wellington.

Implemented in July this year, the Wellington Regional Council took a perfectly well-operating, well-patronised, effective bus service – and fucked it up in a way that beggared belief. Few people were left happy.

The term “Ghost Buses” made an appearance as scheduled buses never appeared.

Public frustration grew until the WRC was forced to spend more hundreds of thousands of dollars of ratepayers money to lay on more buses.

Meanwhile, Go Wellington, the bus company responsible for this public transport clusterfuck of godlike proportions, was focused on more critical matters;



On a more serious note, Wellington Regional Council must bear responsibility for the fiasco. Their policy to contract out services to bus providers offering the cheapest service once again demonstrates the inherently contradictory flaws of the neo-liberal system of tendering out.

If the WRC picked the cheapest possible prices for services – why were they surprised when the ‘product’ started falling apart?!

Cheapest is not always best. The Chicago School of Economics must’ve missed that memo.

Ongoing. Worst. Thing. Ever.

The ongoing attack on  New Zealand’s poorest underclass continues unabated as the MSD continues to extract money from the benefits of former state house tenants;

Despite meth testing being shown to be a total fraud on the purse of the taxpayer; despite Housing NZ apologising for unjustified evictions and destruction of personal property; despite HNZ spending millions to reimburse former tenants – the well-paid, powerful bureaucrats at the Ministry for Social “Development” continue to demand repayment of debt incurred from emergency housing.

Despite everything, former tenants are having to repay a “debt” they should never have been saddled with in the first place.

On 21 December, deputy chief executive of service delivery, Viv Rickard, issued a statement (he wouldn’t front to be directly interviewed):

“We know people are worried about debt they may have incurred as a direct result of their Housing New Zealand tenancies ending because of meth contamination, and we want to assure them we are working on addressing this soon.

We’ve done a lot to work out how our clients have been affected, including main tenants, as well as other people who were members of the household at the time.

We’re looking into all the types of financial assistance each person may have received since their tenancy ended, how much of it related to the tenancy ending, whether they were asked to pay it back, and how much they’ve already done so.”

Earlier this year, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, Peter Gluckman, released his shock report, revealing that meth testing was a scam;

“There is absolutely no evidence in the medical literature of anyone being harmed from passive use, at any level. We can’t find one case.”

That was On 29 May. It is now the end of December. In seven months, the MSD has not been able to stop demanding repayments for a bogus debt based on bogus meth testing.

Seven months.

But you can bet Mr Rickard and other well-remunerated MSD execs continue to be paid their salaries.

And you can bet that when MSD discovers an over-payment to a beneficiary, they will pounce swifty to recover that money.


MSD’s inaction on this scandal is intolerable. If Rickards and his colleagues are too incompetant or too lazy to resolve this problem, they should step down immediatly.

But they won’t. See The Greatest Clear and Present danger to NZ democracy above. These people are Untouchable.

Mystery of The Year:

What has happened to former Radio NZ Checkpoint presenter, John Campbell?!

Head-hunted from Radio NZ by rival state broadcaster, TVNZ, aside from a few brief stints on Q+A and some sports reporting (sports?!?!), John Campbell has been pretty close to invisible since 14 September.

If National were still in power, conspiracy rumours that Mr Campbell has been ‘nobbled’ would abound.

Will we soon have to put John Campbell’s face on milk cartons: Have you seen this person?

Stomach churn of The Year:

Seeing the smiling assassin, John Key, on our television screens again on TVNZs Q+A on 10 December (video). Within minutes of being interviewed by Corin Dann, the bullshit started flowing from his mouth.

This time, instead of defending the indefensible of his previous National government – he was defending the indefensible bloated profits from the banking industry.

Once a con man, always a con man.

Numpty of The Year:

David Seymour – for also defending the indefensible: single use plastic bags. It is difficult to understand what would prompt a supposedly intelligent human being to oppose the elimination of single use plastic bags, one of the most ubiquitous and deadly-to-life by-products of our Disposable-Consumer Culture.

No wonder his so-called “party” consistently polls under 1%.

Political Bullshit Puff-piece of The Year:

This ‘Award’ goes to right-wing commentator, Damien Grant. He has outdone his usual pro-National propaganda with a puff-piece on Stuff website extolling the almost-preternatural virtues of current National Party leader, Simon Bridges. The piece goes from embarrassing flattery to fawning adulation. Like this;

“…The question National should ask itself is who people will vote for when they are afraid of losing their job? Who will they feel confident in when they are worried about the banks failing and the dollar falling?

The very things that make Bridges unpalatable now, the perception of arrogance, toughness and inflexibility, could be exactly what voters want when the world they understand comes unstuck.

A man who will vote his conscience, regardless of the political cost, could be the very thing we want in uncertain times.

Nothing will save the current Prime Minister, not even a wedding if the public starts to panic.

People may not like Simon Bridges, but possibly they see in him the sort of toughness that will be required if the economic wheels fall off…”

Remember what folks used to say about Mike Hoskings’ “love affair” with former Dear Leader John Key?



Damian Grant appears to be vying for a similar role for his beloved Saint Simon.

[To be concluded in part 2]





Gay republic: Pride & Police Uniforms

Twitter: Radio NZ – Georgina Beyer – 20 November 2018

Sparknotes: The Principles of Newspeak

Radio NZ: ‘Disturbing’ behaviour revealed by spying investigation – PM

Radio NZ: Southern Response chair resigns following spying revelations

Fairfax media: Gerry Brownlee knew Southern Response hired private spies

Beehive:  Hon Tracey Martin

Radio NZ: New infrastructure agency proposed to improve planning, investment

Radio NZ: Forcing builders into risky contracts: ‘How crazy is that?’

Fairfax media: Wellington officials plan to bust ‘ghost buses’ and improve timetables

Radio NZ:  Wellington regional council spending thousands a month to help bus network

Fairfax media: Bus drivers who dare to wear shorts to be summoned to investigation meeting by Wellington bosses

Investopedia: Chicago School

Radio NZ: Tenants evicted over meth test still paying debt

Fairfax media: The meth house is a myth – There’s ‘no risk’ from drug smoking residue, Govt report finds

Scoop media: Q+A – Sir John Key interviewed by Corin Dann

Youtube: Q+A with Sir John Key

Fairfax media: Damien Grant – Simon Bridges may be needed when the economic wheels fall off

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: Dr Liz Gordon – The State Sector Act and all that

Previous related blogposts

David Seymour – A Valid ‘Hit’ and a Colossal ‘Miss’




This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 December 2018.



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