From the Hood : Finding A Happy Media

Ask A Prime Minister
by Lyndon Hood

At this week’s post-cabinet press conference John Key took a few more potshots at Twitter.

This confirms the Prime Minister’s earlier remarks on the subject and how he doesn’t use social media for conversation (at least, not more than once). He was, in that first case, explaining that the most important thing about the Oravida conflict of interest allegations was that Judith Collins had said something on Twitter.

The idea was that, while the thing she said on Twitter was not nearly as alarming as some of the things she said in person in front of TV cameras, the whole business would be sorted out if she just logged off for a bit.

As it turned out, he was right.

I’m still not sure why the PM never engages – whether it really is because of the bottom feeders and trolls, or because he doesn’t want the Internet to see him acting like he does in Question Time, or because he hasn’t worked out how to charge twenty dollars per response on behalf of the National Party. But it struck me he must have a huge backlog, which doesn’t seem right. In New Zealand we’re proud of how accessible our politicians are.

So I thought I should have a go at answering them. I am doing this in John Key’s capacity as Prime Minister. I figured that what with all those fundraisers where he’s not in his capacity as Prime Minister, he wouldn’t mind me borrowing it for a bit. In that spirit, let’s clear up some of those unanswered questions. I thought I’d start with some of mine.

Testing. Testing. So, hi! Ready for your questions. #ama

Yeah, that’s right, these tweets are in nonstandard order. I’m the m*&%f&^%ing PM, I can do what I want.

That stands for “manufacturing”, by the way.

Another bonus of being the Prime Minister of New Zealand is it comes with the power to use more than one hundred and forty characters per tweet. #bizgrowthagenda #YOLO #hashtag

Prime Minister: you’ve often been described as someone a guy could have a beer with. Can I have a beer with you?

You sure can. I'll even buy you a beer, if you already have one. If you can't afford one you don't deserve one. #poorlifechoices
But seriously, you can. Contact the National Party to check our rates, Thanks to Budget 2014, you can make your donation in installments.

Does the way you guys are reacting to the John Banks verdict mean all of you have been corruptly anonymizing electoral donations and he just got caught?

Look, I respect the separation of powers but as Prime Minister I reckon John Banks is a honest man.

Which means we're not all corrupt, because he didn't actually do it. Or if he did, it wasn't wrong.

It's one judge, and like scientists, I can provide you with another one that will give you a counterview.

For heaven's sake, criminals are bogeymen we use to get votes, not actual people who I meet socially.

Hi John. I’m planning an international holiday soon and I wondered under exactly what circumstances you’d be officially annoyed if I am killed by a foreign government. Is it just judicial executions, or would you disapprove of some extrajudicial killings? Maybe if I was the actual target? Or if the nation doing the killing was officially at war with the people on whom they were raining sudden death from the sky? Thanks in advance.

Hi. Thing is, being PM is like being All Blacks captain. EG if one of your team plays badly or maybe stands where you said not to… 

[cont.] and another team tells you he's actually playing for the third team (not the team you're playing now, but one you might play later)…

[cont.] you might not get mad if that first other team (who isn't in the game either) maybe commits a technical foul against that player.

Of course, I don't talk about security matters. Unless it's something that I want you to hear.

Like this one: So we were taking the passports off these guys the other day and they were all like Syria, right?

And we're like Yeah, we're completely syrious! LOL.

How come something as uncertain as a Treasury forecast of a surplus is enough to get your budget declared a victory?

Good question, thanks for asking. First, a lot of the good reception of our budget was cos Tony Abbott is as mad as crate of rabid dingoes.

I mean, piecemeal whittling away of Govt services or not, at least here we're not slashing and burning. Or padding the Cabinet room walls.

But Kiwis know the surplus is REALLY IMPORTANT and is THE SAME as the economy and any improvement in the books is ALL because of us.

OTOH any problems were entirely because of the Global Financial Crisis. (This approach to accounting is called 'currently being the government'.)

The surplus is so important that without it we won't be able to blow the surplus on tax cuts. Which is great fun.

It was fun cutting taxes going into the financial crisis, and it would have been even more fun…

… cutting taxes if I'd been made Finance Minister in 2005 on a platform of cutting taxes because surpluses are evil.

In short, don't let the fact these are imaginary tax cuts based on a hypothetical surplus stop you voting for them.

And don't knock forecasts. Forecasts are what actually matters. I forecast a panda once and that worked out great.

So that cash-for-access business seems to be using the power of the Government to benefit a political party with potential fallout on all sides. What’s the difference between that and the pledge card scandal?

Lack of opposition follow-through.

What about superannuation, John? What about climate change?

It's all very well for you to say but these issues relate to the future. I live in the present. I am a goldfish. 

Literally. A goldfish in a human suit. A goldfish in a human suit who has a taste for silly hats.

And we do have a climate policy. It's the ETS. The ETS was intended to make people face the costs of their carbon emissions.

But it turns out selected polluters can actually make a profit out of it, so we’re all sorted.

Are you the only person in the world ever to drink a cup of tea and get indigestion three years later?

This is all a distraction from the real issues of the hypothetical surplus and the imaginary tax cuts. 

Hey, look at this silly hat. I just grabbed it and put it on. Crazy, huh?

How about that Internet Party then?

Well the whole thing's a bit dodgy, isn't it? You don't just start a political party for your own ends. 

Under the Westminster system you buy politicians one at a time. Even in the US they only sell whole parties on an issue by issue basis. 

If his policies are so good, why didn't he buy an existing party instead of starting a new one that people can vote on its merits?

Who does he think he is, Bob Jones? Alan Gibbs?

If we learned anything from Canterbury it was that there's such a thing as too much Democracy.

So will you be supporting electoral reform?

Look, we haven't made any decisions. We have ideas, but any changes will need wide support and public input. For instance…

[cont.] our basic policy IS cows are more important than people but any plan to let cattle vote will be set out in our election platform.