Some new year resolutions for a resolute bunch
Colin James's NZ Herald column for 28 December 2004
How do you get the white wine cool in a Wellington summer? Put it outside for half an hour. So much for global warming.
And what is Pete Hodgson doing about this? Sure, he lost energy and science in the reshuffle. But Helen Clark left him in charge of the climate.
And, frankly, he hasn't delivered. He and Helen solemnly promised us global warming in 1999 and again in 2002 and you can bet they will promise it again in next year's election. Just a week back, Pete was in Argentina at a conference of nations dedicated to global warming.
So confident have Pete and Helen been about their warming programme that they are even planning to charge us for it. Every time you get in your car, if you give them a third term, you will be paying a carbon tax on your petrol.
But not a skerrick have they delivered yet. That, not to put to fine a point on it, is taxation without compensation. Revolutions have been sparked by less.
So here's my suggestion. New year is nearly upon us. Pete could sympathise with the damp mob out here in the cold and make a new year resolution: to really get on with global warming in 2005.
Now we're on the subject, how about some other new year resolutions?
Let's start with someone expensive: Richard Woods. He is director of the Security Intelligence Service which, post-Zaoui, sounds like a triple misnomer.
I should be careful here because deep in his paranoia library there is a file on me. I know that because you don't get to be a parliamentary press gallery journalist without those guys running a ruler over you.
Having been called everything from a communist to new right in my time, my file, if the spy-versus-spy crowd has been reading the right newspapers and tapping the right emails, no doubt reads like space fiction, complete with rogue DNA.
Just as, no doubt, Tariana Turia's file does: grandmother to revolutionary, a spellbinder for the twilight men of "security".
What? There's no file on Tariana?
Here's a resolution for the said director: that he won't collect lies about the rest of us if we don't imagine lies about him and his spooks.
As for files, John Tamihere has them mounting by the month. He has a swag of resolutions to make.
One: to try humility instead of braggadocio when he gets off by the skin of his teeth. Two: to pay his tax or make sure someone else does. Three: to declare what he should declare as a servant of the people. Four: to figure out that he is a servant of the people.
Here's the one he is likely to make instead: to go on being JT. The punters love it.
Now let's cross the parliamentary chamber to Don Brash. Don is the sort of thoroughly decent chap who surely keeps the resolutions he makes -- he once was a Presbyterian, you understand, in the days when Presbyterians were Presbyterians and hellfire was the alternative.
Don's resolution: to be Don Brash and retire the impostor who compromises and sloganises and muddles history.
Next up is Don's tormentor, the man who dedicated this year to undermining him: Winston Peters. Winston wins the parliamentary quip of the year contest for a point of order when the warning bell was rung marking two minutes from the end of Don's allotted time for a speech: "Mr Speaker, was that the bell or an alarm clock?" ("MogaDon" was last year's winning quip, by Jill Pettis.)
Winston's resolution: to stop being nasty to Don -- for a day or two at least. Along with giving up smoking. And exercising -- well, the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress has discovered that exercise does not help 42 per cent resist diabetes or heart disease and may instead put those people more at risk.
Note to myself: resolve not to take the risk of exercising.
Here are some ideas for resolutions for others of our leaders.
Gerry Brownlee: to learn to count past 10 in Maori.
George Hawkins: to acquire subtlety, wit and authority.
Michael Cullen: to take up retail therapy. Large surpluses can make it hard for others to resist temptation. (Presbyterianism again.)
Lianne Dalziel: to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. (This risks ostracism in politics but what a girl's gotta do, a girl's gotta do.)
Richard Prebble: to acquire grace to go with his transcendental statesmanship. And Rodney Hide: to find out what magic Richard had that got ACT over 5 per cent and borrow it.
The Greens: to make space for humans on their planet.
Marian Hobbs: to stop making self-deprecating jokes, like "I am AMFAT, as distinct from AMTHIN" -- a play on her title as Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Trade (which I bet few of you knew she was).
Peter Dunne: to learn a joke to tell.
Jonathan Hunt: to stock the London High Commission wine cellar to a becoming standard and quantity.
Now, who else is there?
Ah, Helen herself.
Somewhere high on a mountain or deep in some foreign part she will greet the new year with her usual relaxed resoluteness. Her resolution: to go humbly through another regal year.
Or maybe you have a better one.