Otago Daily Times

Ad­just­ing to cho­sen hands on levers of power

- John Lap­s­ley is an Ar­row­town writer. Politics · Joseph Parker · James Shaw · Gold Coast · Mornington · New Zealand · Jacinda Ardern · Wellington, New Zealand · Queensland · Victoria · United States of America · Shane Jones · Ranfurly · Iceland · Australia · New Zealand First · Ron Mark · Singapore Ministry of Defence · Bob Hawke

DEAR Un­cle Norm,

Last week my niece “can­celled” her elec­tion night party in­vite to me, say­ing she was do­ing me a kind­ness.

Skyla, who has been squeamishl­y frank ever since com­ing out as a trans kick­boxer (bless her), said: “Rich old farts like you would ruin the en­tire night. By 8pm you’ll be weep­ing into your saveloys, say­ing the So­cial­ists will steal all your hard­earned money.”

I sup­pose Skyla’s right. Jacinda will be up on the box beam­ing like a movie star on awards night. Ju­dith will have ap­plied for a job in the ring as cor­ner­man to her nephew Joseph Parker. And we’ll have James Shaw say­ing that his wealth tax only af­fects those evil enough to qual­ify for it.

And yes, I’ll whinge.

“A 1% wealth tax is pid­dle to mon­ey­bags like you and Aunt Sh­eryl,” said our dar­ling niece. “You need to be Pro­gres­sives. Smile and feel priv­i­leged to pay a big­ger share.”

It’s true plumb­ing has been kind to me. We’ve got a fam­ily crib — where Skyla has a bunk at Christ­mas — and it con­tains a fin­ish­line photo of good old Jim Jams win­ning the 2002 Omakau Cup. If James Shaw gets his tax, those sods will be ping­ing us for an ex­tra $50,000 a year.

I’m re­tired now and don’t have cash like that. We’ll be forced to em­i­grate. What do you think of prospects on the Gold Coast? Pete the Plum­ber,


Are you both deaf and blind — or have you spent the last week con­fined to Glo­ri­avale? The hills have been alive with the sound of Jacinda promis­ing there’ll be no Gree­nie wealth tax.

The fact is our tax rules make NZ a won­der­ful place to be rich in. Even the bold Ardern gov­ern­ment chick­ened out on do­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax, which is bog stan­dard else­where.

The real prob­lem for a Kiwi plum­ber who has done mod­er­ately well, is (and I’m writ­ing this on Fri­day, blind­fold to the elec­tion re­sult) that you now have a left wing gov­ern­ment that is mi­nus its Win­ston re­straint dog. Will “no Win­ston” mean we now get a tidal wave of new left reg­u­la­tions, helped along by mar­vel­lous Wellington ideas. (Cen­trally made de­ci­sions are ter­rific when viewed from the cen­tre).

As for the Gold Coast. Right now would you re­ally leave NZ to live in

Queens­land? Or Vic­to­ria? The United States? Europe? The rea­sons you’ll say “no” to all those will first be about Covid. They’re the same rea­sons that Jacinda crushed what is rightly called The Covid Elec­tion.

Dear Un­cle Norm,

I’m wor­ried that as of elec­tion night, we may no longer have Shane Jones as a NZ First MP. I shall miss Mr Jones dressed like a Mafia Don in long leather coat and men­ac­ing black hat. My ques­tion — is the Jones hat a fe­dora or a trilby?

Charles Cap­per.


Per­son­ally, I pre­fer the in­sou­ciance of Ron Mark in one of his Texan Stet­sons. (The Min­is­ter for De­fence has them in both black and white). Given Mr Jones’ main job was Min­is­ter for Pork Bar­relling, I pre­sume his hat of choice is a pork pie.

Dear Un­cle Norm,

The South’s or­chardists and wine­mak­ers will be ru­ined if we can’t get ca­sual work­ers to pick our crops.

The Labour Gov­ern­ment keeps in­sist­ing we should first find outof­work Ki­wis for these jobs. But this isn’t prac­ti­cal, There aren’t enough Ki­wis who want the jobs, or are fit enough to do them.

We need safe ways to bring back the Is­land pick­ers, and Im­mi­gra­tion should get on with things and do en masse emer­gency ex­ten­sions of ex­ist­ing work visas.

We’ve re­peat­edly raised our prob­lems, but Im­mi­gra­tion re­sponses show no sense of ur­gency.

The Fruit Man,


There are few as deaf to hu­man­ity and as de­voted to rule books, as Im­mi­gra­tion De­part­ments. Let me tell you a story about over­com­ing im­mi­gra­tion stonewalli­ng.

In 1989, when the Aus­tralian La­bor PM, Bob Hawke, heard thou­sands of protest­ing stu­dents had been mas­sa­cred in Tianan­men Square, he an­nounced that, as of that morn­ing, ev­ery Chi­nese on a tem­po­rary visa to Aus­tralia, could stay.

“You can­not do that Prime Min­is­ter” an aghast of­fi­cial told him as he left the podium.

“I just did,” Hawke re­torted. Hawke’s cap­tain’s call af­fected 16,200 Chi­nese, mainly stu­dents, but still had to be rat­i­fied by cabi­net. Im­mi­gra­tion nabobs spent the next two months warn­ing them the devil was in the de­tail, and he’d get an in­flux of drug deal­ers, spies, dish­wash­ers, and aun­ties who didn’t speak English.

So Hawke changed his num­bers. He de­cided he’d risk 40,000 in­stead.

The Im­mi­gra­tion Depart­ment has a his­tory of man­ag­ing its min­is­ters. The sea­sonal worker cri­sis needs big pic­ture de­ci­sions made ur­gently. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for our lo­qua­cious leader to show she can also scorch the rub­ber.

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