When Winston Peters announced his candidacy for Northland, he achieved more in four seconds than National has done for this beleaguered province this decade.
Who’s been robbed to fund the North’s ten new bridges hasn’t been disclosed, but you can bet the Nats aren’t looking at taxing the One Percent to cover the cost.
And who knows what the cost will be to the tax payer after the cynically-timed release of a historic threat of spiking infant formula. This cheap shot publicity stunt was clearly designed to let a sideshow hog the microphone, denying not only Peters valuable airtime, but also saving themselves the embarrassment of the Sergeant Shultz-like Mark Osbourne endlessly repeating that he knows nothing before a sniggering media pack. Osbourne, with all the doughy charisma of half-baked loaf of white bread was probably picked for his lack of profile and chutzpah. I guess when they’re desperate, throwing the dairy industry under the Peters’ bus is a small price to pay to deprive him and their own utterly uninspiring candidate of airtime
There’s no doubt that on the face of it, Peters’ arrival looks like a win for Northland. Years of neglect have left this province hollowed-out and starving. With underdeveloped rail, the roads are clogged with trucks, leaving villages choked with dust, scattered logs frequently closing roads and poor motorists near meltdown as they wait. But, it seems, the waiting for attention to our roads is over. We’ve got so much to be thankful for.
We can be thankful that one of the favourite provincial past times of wife beating won’t be interfered with let alone mentioned. In a province where such men are often very tired after a long day on the rough road, they’ll now have more time and energy for this past time and might even be able to shag their kids if they don’t fall asleep on the couch first.
We won’t be hearing much from Labour now that voters have been encouraged to send a message to National. A voice that could have spoken for women and children has, understandably, had the plug pulled on her microphone.
Winston, despite his long connection and professed love of the North doesn’t seem to have done much for it over decades he’s been in Parliament. If he truly loved us up here, he’d have threatened to stand in the electorate whenever we were in dire need. Imagine if he’d done this during the floods last year when so many of our roads were wiped out.
And as for Osbourne, is he going to stand up and fight for the abused women and children that he sees walking the streets of the towns in his electorate? “Oh no,” he’ll say, I drive a thousand kays a week around this electorate. I keep my eyes out for logging trucks on those pesky one-lane bridges and know nothing of these women and children you talk of.”
These are the other casualties. The ones people with power don’t want to talk about; the ones rich men playing politics drive past in their flash cars, their paint gleaming in contrast to the dull eyes of the people they don’t see.
The photoshopped image doing the rounds of Winston’s head grafted on to the (conveniently headless) body of Ned Stark calls him the Warden of the North. While he might have delivered improved bridges with a flash of his smile, he has little in common with Stark who refused the baubles of office, despised the duplicity of politics and lost his head because of it.
Undoubtedly this column might be seen as churlish. But the Trojans no doubt wished they’d better examined the dental work of the horse they took into their stable. Winston’s arrival is a better thing than we’ve had, sure, but I’m picking we could do with a Warden who might be a better voice for the oppressed up here. Winter is indeed coming. For some sooner than others.