According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

By   /   December 19, 2013  /   34 Comments

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The word that springs to mind for most of this report is – a witch hunt.

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"He's a witch! Burn him! Burn him!" "How do you know he's a witch, peasants?" "Cos the EY Report said so!" "No it didn't peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades." "Close enough!!  Burn him!"

“He’s a witch! Burn him! Burn him!”
“How do you know he’s a witch, peasants?”
“Cos the EY Report said so!”
“No, it didn’t, peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades.”
“Close enough!! Burn him!”

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With the release of the Ernst Young  Independent report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, National Party pollster and one-time employee, David Farrar, has (unsurprisingly) called for Auckland mayor Len Brown’s immediate resignation.

As Farrar wrote in the NBR* on 13 December,

Having now read the EY report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland. I only formed this view after reading the report, and did not believe what had previously been disclosed was substantial enough to warrant resignation.

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public, and also that there were ratepayer resources used for his affair.”

Taking the last point (using ratepayer resources) as a rationale – Farrar is referring to the 1,375 phone calls and txt messages (Point #1)  between Len Brown and Bevan Chuang.

The report acknowledges that “Personal use of mobile phones is permitted by the Elected Members Technology Policy and Guidelines” (but must be reimbursed by the elected member).

Brown made a reimbursement payment of $263 last year (2012).

The report referred to Ms Chuang “attending several functions as the mayor’s translator” (point #2). No ratepayer funds were paid to her.

There is mention made of the mayor receiving an iPad as a gift. That was later auctioned for charity (point #7)

There is mention of a dinner with a personal friend (point #8) – in 2011 – paid by Council.

2011?! The Review went trawling that far back into the past?

Indeed, the report made several findings, some of which I repost in full;

9. We have not identified any instances where council funds were used to pay for gifts given by the mayor to Ms Chuang.
10.The content of council emails we reviewed between the mayor and Ms Chuang were of a council related business nature.
11. Our review of Mayoral Office expenditure did not identify any expenses incurred by council (either directly by the mayor or his immediate support team) that related to the mayor’srelationship with Ms Chuang.
12. We did not identify any improper preferential treatment by the mayor in relation to Ms Chuang’s appointment to the EPAP, New Lynn Night market, Howick Local Board contractsand Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (“ATEED”) services.      
13. We did not identify any instances where Ms Chuang accompanied the mayor on any domestic or international travel.
14. We have not identified any private use of hotels by the mayor that were paid for using council resource.

That’s an awful lot of  “we did not identify blah-blahs“…

The  report referred to free hotel room upgrades – none of which actually cost the rate-payer a single cent (despite what Campbell Live inferred on 17 December).

The word that springs to mind for most of this report is – a witch hunt.

And it appears that even right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton came to the same conclusion on Radio NZ on 16 December (listen:  Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams )

Hooton understands the nasty implications of this witch hunt and dodgy report; the same standard of nit-picking and guilt-by-innuendo can be levelled at every single political figure, of whatever political hue.

We should understand one simple fact; not one human being is perfect. Everyone – everyone – will stuff up, eventually. It is a given.

Don’t expect flawless actions from our elected representatives. We will  be disappointed.

However, I referred to most of this report  being a witch hunt.

There is an exception. Brown’s acceptance of free hotel upgrades from SkyCity was most unwise. In fact, I call it downright dumb.

Is it a “hanging offence” though? No, not quite.

But to accept freebies from a corporation that is currently attempting to gain financial and legislative benefits from central government, in a dodgy deal involving promises of  a “free” convention centre, suggests to me that Brown’s political acumen is badly lacking.

It suggests to me that he will keep screwing up because he has little concept of consequences.

Returning to right-wing blogger; National Party activist*; and one-time employee for various National ministers*, David Farrar – where does he get off demanding,

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public […]  I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland…

If the standard for resignation is now set at “publicly [lying] to the media and the public“, then we should start at the top: John Key.

Let’s look at his most latest blatant lie.

On 13 December, Fairfax media reported this statement from Dear Leader Key,

“… I can assure [Labour leader David] Cunliffe the books are in tip-top condition – that is the polar opposite position to what they were in when we became the Government. But in the last five years we’ve worked hard to turn them around… “

Source

That was a lie.

When National took office in 2008, Labour had paid down this country’s debt, as this simple Treasury graph shows quite clearly,

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Source

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Net debt was reduced from 20% of GDP to 5.6% by 2008.

Even Key admitted this in July 2012,

The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008.  It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016….”

Source

And on 9 December on TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ programme, when he was interviewed on the problem of growing child poverty in New Zealand, he said this (at 2.45);

If you go back to 2005, when the previous government were in office, they had a number, you know, a little bit less than ours, but not a lot less, there was a 180,000 children in poverty, I think this shows 240,000 on that measure.

Back then, New Zealand recorded the biggest surplus in New Zealand’s history...”

Source

Not only did the previous Labour government pay down our debt (which had been created by National in the 1990s), but then Finance Minister Michael Cullen posted some fairly impressive surpluses,

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Source

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For more information on the state of the economy under Labour’s watch, refer to this previous blogpost.

So Key and his National mates inherited a pretty well-run economy by November 2008 – just as the Global Financial Crisis was beginning to be felt in this country.

Comments such as  “under the last Labour Government the economy got way out of balance” are patently dishonest and a downright lie (source).

We have heard many such throwaway lines from Key, English, and other National ministers as they (a) try to discredit the former Labour Government’s creditable performance (b) blame their own fiscal mismanagement and shortcomings on their predecessor.

So when will Farrar be calling on Key to resign for lying to the media and public?

Short answer: never.

National doesn’t do Taking Responsibility very well. But oh boy, don’t they expect it from the rest of us?!

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*

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(* Interestingly, the NBR makes no reference whatsoever to Farrar’s close National Party links.)

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*

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Sources

John Key: Statement to Parliament 2011

Treasury: Debt

Trading Economics: Cash surplus/deficit (% of GDP) in New Zealand

TVNZ: Breakfast Show (9 Dec 2013)

National Business Review:  OPINION – Brown must resign (13 Dec 2013)

Fairfax:  Two-thirds of voters oppose asset sales (13 Dec 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

National’s disdain for taking responsibility

Taking responsibility, National-style

Hat-tip

Martyn Bradbury: Why I don’t care about Len Brown’s audit (13 Dec 2013)

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= fs =

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34 Comments

  1. Mooloo magic says:

    What amazes me about Right wing commentators is not only their hypocrisy is there righteousness that they see themselves as paragons of all that is good and that they are perfect.
    Although I personally believe that Len Brown has proven himself an unfit person to be Mayor and his poor judgement and lack of political nous strongly suggests he needs to reconsider if he should continue.
    However the vitriol from the like of Quax and Brewer plus the overacted outrage from arrogant conceited media jocks, Williams, Henry, Farrer and Hoskins has meant I now hope Brown stands his ground if only to it annoy these sanctimonious and obliviously perfect role models to us all.

  2. Countryboy says:

    While I’m no @ Gosman .
    ” The word that springs to mind for most of this report is – a witch hunt.”
    Ah , that’s three words @ Frank .

    And I think len brown should have gone by now having long ago fallen on his own sword . Instead , he’s the headless chicken that just wont stop running around .

    It’s my view that we New Zealander/ Aotearoans should become far more comfortable with demanding a better service from our politicians . After all , we’ve been treated appallingly by pompous , arrogant , thieving , lying , swindling and no doubt ( Seriously , no doubt . ) deviants with their expensive sexual predilections for years . It’s about time we said enough !

    brown should has tendered his resignation the moment this sordid business broke ranks . He could then have run for re election if he so much wants to work for the people of Auckland . Not this . This is as seedy and as tacky as I would have expected of len . The mayor of the little Bling Town living the high life on a false economy . In a country where , unless you’re a lawyer , accountant , real estate agent , ‘ financial adviser ‘ or a cowsploiter , you have to satisfy yourself with scratching pennies from the mud .
    We don’t get upgraded hotel rooms and fancy pin up girls to soullessly hump ? We get power bills , phone bills , insurance bills , rates demands , increasing basic costs of living , uncertainty about our financial futures , depleted public resources and an almost constant stream of gas from politicians who tell us that we’re still not quite good enough , particularly if we haven’t got worthless jobs to pay for the above . That doesn’t make US feel all powered up and sexy . Quite the opposite .
    Put bluntly ; Fuck len brown . ( There has to be a pun in there somewhere ? )

  3. Countryboy says:

    And just to distance myself from the likes of Williams, Henry, Farrer and Hoskins .
    Remember , they’re highly paid scavengers . They’ll eat anything dead or dying for a dollar . That’s what they do . They have a braying Mass of Zombies out there who hang on their every poisoned word . That’s what corrupt politicians give you . Darksiders . Hoards of the bastards .

  4. Gosman says:

    You are conveniently forgetting that the NZ economy (along with most developed nations in the rest of the world), was hit by an economic downturn which led to increases in all those negative indicators you mention.

    The idea that a Labour led Government would somehow have been better able to cope with this is wishful thinking in my mind. Certainly the NZ experience suggests we are in much better shape than other nations that followed policies that Labour and the Greens have been advocating over the past five or so years.

    • Suz R says:

      How about replying to the point of the comment – which was that JK regularly lies his head off when referring to the economic management of the previous Labour-led government? Whether Helen Clarke and Michael Cullen would have managed the GFC better or worse than JK and BE is unknown: what IS known (and the point that was being made in a post that was about political honesty and how the bar is set for transparency from our elected figures) is that JK tells lies. Much worse lies than Brown. Lies about significant political matters. Lies that manipulate people’s understanding of political issues (and therefore, their votes). Did anyone in Auckland vote for Brown because they thought he was a loyal husband and/or unlikely to accept a fancy hotel room? If so, those few people have the right to feel disillusioned. Presumably Brown told lies to his wife. She has the right to feel let down and betrayed. But John Key and Bill English regularly lie to all NZers in a calculated and patronising way. Stop trying to walk away from this (undeniable) truth.

      • Gosman says:

        None of the examples given by Frank in the article are examples of outright lies though. You might think he is wrong or even deliberately spun something so as to avoid dwelling on negatives but there is no hard evidence that he is lying. I expect a certain amount of BS from politicians around this sort of stuff.

        Now if it was shown that John Key did know about Kim Dotcom prior to the raid on his property THEN you would have a gotcha moment. In such a situation it would be entirely approporiate for people to call for Key to resign and I would support this call.

    • You are conveniently forgetting that the NZ economy (along with most developed nations in the rest of the world), was hit by an economic downturn which led to increases in all those negative indicators you mention.

      It’s not often I use intemperate language – but BULLSHIT to that, Gosman!! You rightwingers claim the Global Financial crisis as the excuse for our soaring debt and National’s mismanagement of the economy, whilst conveniently;

      1. Implementing TWO tax cuts we could ill afford, and resulting in National borrowing up to $380 million a week to make up for the revenue shortfall.

      Do you dispute that?

      2. Implementing a policy of beneficiary bashing, and blaming solo-mums and unemployed for being on welfare.

      Do you dispute that as well?

      3. Giving massive corporate welfare to Warner Bros, Rio Tinto, Southern China Airlines, Skycity – whilst allowing our manufacturing sector to lose thousands of jobs.

      I could have tolerated National having to cope with the GFC – but reducing tax revenue and blaming welfare beneficiaries for being jobless indicates that it’s one rule for them and one rule for others. Convenient as an excuse one moment, but not others.

      And as Suz said – how about addressing the points I raised about Key being a habitual liar?

      That is the context here, and one which you (once again) conveniently ignore.

      • Gosman says:

        Of course I dispute that.

        The first tax cut was already scheduled under the Labour led Government. All National did was not cancel it.

        The Second tax cut was designed to be fiscally neutral i.e. it was accompanied by an increase in GST that should have balanced out the loss in income tax.

        Now I will acknowledge that the second tax cut had an initially negative impact on the fiscus as consumption fell more than anticipated and therefore GST receipts did not make up the shortfall but this is likely being more than made up for now as consumption is growing strongly.

        What you never mention is that the pre-election fiscal projections in 2008 had Government deficits being predicted till the end of this decade if no policy changes were made (i.e. if the policies being followed by the Labour led government kept being followed). We are now on schedule for returning to a balance situation next year exactly when the Minister of Finance promised it would be. That is quite an impressive feat.

        • It was right wingers bitching on and on about Cullen being a skinflint, when in actual fact Cullen shouldn’t have given tax cuts to the rich in the first place; as given the recession that was about to arrive, New Zealand couldn’t afford it.

          Instead of scrapping the tax cuts for the rich and so called ‘wealth creators’, National extend them, bail out their corporate friends, gut Kiwisaver, take away family homes away in Christchurch (by denying families the help they need), deny people access to ACC; and finally go after students and beneficiaries like mad banshees – rather than solve the budget blowouts they created.

          This is an artificial crisis, created by the National government, Iceland managed to get through it (with way worse debt) without cutting social services and undermining the basic living standards of their people.

          If New Zealand has three more years of National, we might as well call World Vision, the UN, and the Red Cross to ask them to set up relief stations, as New Zealand already has third world diseases and malnutrition in some families. This all under just 5 years of National, imagine 9.

        • Andrea says:

          Gosman: you say, “We are now on schedule for returning to a balance situation next year exactly when the Minister of Finance promised it would be. That is quite an impressive feat.”

          It’s temporary. Very very temporary.

          That flapping you hear are the vultures coming home to roost. Or the great roar when the log jam of deferred government works comes baying for urgent money – roading,rising health costs, repairs and maintenance to properties.

          Anyone can look ‘rich’ on payday – but this lot have shown times over that they cannot manage to the end of the month without digging into other people’s pockets for a bit of wonga to tide them over.

          And the great ‘victory’ of government books that ‘balance’ is highly ephemeral. We’ll be back to the tide of red ink by lunchtime. It’s the nature of government. Any government of any political persuasion at all.

          Nor is this vain and futile ambition supported by prudent, humane policies that can prosper most. That’s what rankles most.

        • Andrew R says:

          Gosman, getting a balanced public balanced budget is the wrong economic policy in a situation like we are facing of private sector under-demand/unemployed resources. Couple that with the Nats willful failure to introduce effective policies on climate change and peak oil.

          National is not doing a good job.

          And John Key makes stuff up all the time. (As does most of the cabinet)

    • The idea that a Labour led Government would somehow have been better able to cope with this is wishful thinking in my mind.

      I question the state of your mind, Gosman.

      For one thing, as I pointed out, Labour paid down debt and posted massive surpluses.

      Secondly, credit rating firms like Moodies, S&P, etc, consistently DOWNGRADE New Zealand during National (or other right wing governments) and upgrade our credit rating during Labour Administrations. I can provide evidence for that if that fact blows your mind.

      And it still shouldn’t detract from the fact here that Key makes up shit to suit himself.

      • Gosman says:

        See above for the pre-election prediction Treasury released in 2008 where they projected a decade of deficits under the policy settings Labour led government had put in place. The NZ economy’s productive sector was also in recession fully a year before the impacts of the GFC hit. This was entirely under Labour’s watch.

        • …Treasury released in 2008 where they projected a decade of deficits under the policy settings Labour led government had put in place.

          ?!?!

          As opposed to five years thus far of National government deficits??

          Bizarre.

          Truly bizarre, Gosman. You refer to a hypothetical “decade of deficits” under a non-existent Labour Government – whilst conveniently overlooking the here-and-now reality: five years (so far) of National deficits.

          Meanwhile, this is what Treasury actually stated in their Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update 2008;

          From a medium-term perspective, the economy may be more resilient to weather the global economic storms now than in the late 1990s …because of a stronger fiscal starting position and a better monetary framework

          Source: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/forecasts/prefu2008/031.htm

          Do you understand what that means, Gosman? Let me emphasise that point for you, so you can focus on it;

          From a medium-term perspective, the economy may be more resilient to weather the global economic storms now than in the late 1990s…

          …because of a stronger fiscal starting position and a better monetary framework

          The same page goes on to state,

          Besides inflation, the key drivers of the nominal economy are world export and import prices. In view of the weaker global growth outlook, the balance of risks to international prices for export and import goods is somewhat to the downside in the medium term, with the impact on the terms of trade dependent on whether it is export or import prices that are most affected.

          Source: IBID

          The 2008 PREFU also refers to our starting point in the chapter “Fiscal Outlook”‘

          The extended period of growth during the past decade has led to a fiscal position as at 30 June 2008 with gross sovereign-issued debt (excluding Settlement Cash) at 17.4% of GDP, net core Crown debt in a net financial asset position of $19 million and $14.2 billion in net assets held by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZS Fund). Therefore the weakening in the fiscal outlook starts from a strong fiscal position.

          Source: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/forecasts/prefu2008/017.htm

          The “decade of deficits” which Key referred to during the 2008 election campaign (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/661189) was a decade influenced by the Global Financial Crisis – not by Labour’s administration.

          I seriously suggest you look up everything I’ve presented here and educate yourself. Simply parroting what mendacious politicians have uttered does not make you look clever.

          But to cap it off, I remind you what Key himself inadvertantly admitted on 9 December on TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ programme,

          “If you go back to 2005, when the previous government were in office, they had a number, you know, a little bit less than ours, but not a lot less, there was a 180,000 children in poverty, I think this shows 240,000 on that measure.

          Back then, New Zealand recorded the biggest surplus in New Zealand’s history…”

          But don’t take my word for it. Read this damning document from Treasury here; http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/finalreport/21.htm

          It may cause you to reflect on some of your cherished beliefs.

          • No response from Gosman.

            True to form; present facts and watch him vanish.

            • Gosman says:

              You fail to address the elephant in the room. The decade of deficits that was predicted by the Treasury. How do you account for that?

              • You really don’t seem to understand much of what I’ve shown you, do you?

                Perhaps it is all too complex for you?

                Well, I’ve wasted enough time presenting you with the material I’ve researched..

                • Gosman says:

                  I hope you understand the difference between debt and deficits because it seems like you might not. Noone is arguing that debt was not being paid down under Labour but not at the end. At the end they had left a structural deficit that was predicted to last 10 years. This is something none of your links is addressing.

    • adam says:

      Once again your arrogance abounds Gosman. If we had followed the south American models then I believe we’d be in great shape. You keep looking at Europe with the Germans going one way and everyone else trying to survive. That is not something we can compare with. And all the dire predictions of Italy, Portugal and the other pigs have not fallen over. However our economy destroys individuals daily, the good news spin is that, spin. The economic fundamentals are fubar, I worry for the younger generation.

      • Gosman says:

        Do you mean how Venezuela is in tip top condition and not having to implement price controls and throw people in jail for charging the market price for items?

        • adam says:

          I love you man I really do. So it’s OK in your world to leave children in poverty, but stomp on some black market scum and it’s evil. Mind you, I find it truly funny how you can only find one thing wrong with South America. Did you ever get to the end of Wealth of Nations? How are the fairies down at the end of the garden? The market is a mythology made up by people who don’t use reason or logic.

          • Gosman says:

            We are not talking about some black market scum though. These are just regular business people trying to make an honest buck by selling their items in a very difficult market with high inflation. I love it how certain lefties turn nasty on regular people trying to get by.

            • Using your style of inane questioning, Gosman,

              * How do you know they are “regular business people”?

              * What high inflation are you referring to?

              * What lefties are turning “Nasty” and what makes “nasty” so “nasty”?

  5. Kingi says:

    Agree that Len Brown has behaved like an absolute feckin eejit, and that stupidity alone is insufficient grounds for resignation.
    Agree that is is gut churning watching the likes of Farrar stirring the pot with their own hypocritical remarks. And it will be insufferable witnessing the barely disguised, or not, orgasmic glee from Slater et al if Brown does go. Their own muck-raking and Luigi We-we-geing place them down on about the same level as where Len’s trouser have been.
    But, if it had not have been for Len’s appalling choices, they would not have this ammunition.
    And there’s the rub. Len has lived the high life, with his mistress, while cheating on his wife, and lets not forget his kids, pretending to everybody else that he is their responsible, elected family guy mayor. What kind of person behaves like that? Answer: the kind of person who would do it again. Even though he still looks better for mayor than Palino, he has self-destructed. And that’s why I think he has to go.
    Those on “the left” will have to let “the right” have this one. Its not about left and right.

  6. […] as Frank Macskasy sagely observed in his blog post […]

  7. Thanks for that – thought provoking and well researched as always, Mr. Macskasy.

  8. nznative says:

    What Gosman leaves out is the fact the economic melt down was caused by greedy investment bankers and financiers.

    Like John Key

    These same greedy scabs are the ones who John Key and the Nats have rewarded while in Governmnet with tax cuts , more money to private schools, sky city deal etc etc

    Finally John Key is a serial liar ……….

    Everyone can agree on that

  9. Marc says:

    Maybe the difference is the “smile” factor. One John Key comes with a smirk and smile, a wave and good bye appearance, a bit of a comedian at times, and that lets him get away with murder, almost.

    Len Brown is not so much the smiling man, he does at times, but often rather looks sombre and neutral, at times stern.

    So the media can easily play on this, which is what is happening. Key gets away with lots, because he smiles and jokes, and makes comments that riducule others.

    Len Brown has been chased in a corner, tries to give answers, and he gets more criticism the more he says.

    While I am not commenting here to defend Len Brown, I think Frank raises some valid points. I still am highly critical of Brown, but we should apply the same to Key. Sadly the mainstream media (largely privately, corporate owned) are not doing this. They love smiling liars and let them off the hook all the time. Being honest instead exposes you to endless criticism, attacks and negativity.

    No wonder then we get the crap news and light hearted dumbing down programs we get on television and radio. Also most in the public are rather shallow and superficial, so anything of substance and real is too serious to “entertain” the minds of the dumbing down addicts out there. All this is elixir for John Key and his government. You can lie, manipulate and cheat as much as you like, when the media gives you a very cosy treatment.

    Welcome to the manipulated society that NZ is.

  10. nznative says:

    ….. And todays exposed lie from john key

    http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/12/john-key-lied-to-our-faces.html

    “So, it turns out that John Key lied to our faces when he said that no decision had been made on when his government would sell Air New Zealand:”

    • Perfidion says:

      Is anyone even surprised anymore? I mean, virtually every single time Key opens his mouth, one of three things happens:

      1. He lies.
      2. He claims he can’t remember.
      3. He can’t be bothered/won’t go into it/is comfortable with it.

      You can’t be bothered, John? You’re the Prime Minister. You get paid rather a lot of money to be “bothered”. It’s your fucking job, you dolt!

      But what’s worse, is when he says “I’m comfortable with that.”

      There are children in Northland rummaging through pig slops for food to eat… but he’s comfortable with that. There are people in Christchurch sleeping in their cars because Gerry Brownlee treats the place as his personal fiefdom… but he’s comfortable with that. There are people whose Christmas dinner will consist of a couple of soggy Weetbix and a glass of tepid water, if they’re lucky… but he’s comfortable with that. Brighter future my arse!

      I haven’t been comfortable with John Key as Prime Minister since the day after he was elected.