It might be the pain medication talking, as I have spent the last few days off work with tooth â€œissuesâ€ (googling â€œhome dentistryâ€ and popping pain medication like candy), but it seems like our current round of infighting in parliament occurred only because the PM was out of the country.
Like the plot of a bad teenage movie, the parents are going to be out of town and the kids have some high-jinks planned while they are away.
One can imagine John Key giving his parliamentary spawn one of those â€œlooksâ€ that parents give to their kids before he hopped on his plane and jetted out of NZ.
But as the plane departs into the sky one can also imagine the kids slowly turning to each other before breaking into wild grins and running around, like dogs off their leashes, free to get into whatever mischief their little heartâ€™s desire.
Of course parents often leave one child in charge, bearing the responsibility of making sure the house does not burn down, no one kills anyone else and to prevent the squabbling that occurs when enough childlike egos congregate in one place, without any parental oversight, to achieve critical mass which descends into the inevitable ruckus where parents are then forced to wade into.
But, like the plots of the afore mentioned movies, the ability of the one responsible voice to keep calm in a sea of chaos, is but a momentary note before dark clouds gather and the whole tea party goes over the cliff.
So what are we to make of the current flap between Winston Peters, the Maori Party and National; the Kermandec issue and the MPI scandal?
First and foremost itâ€™s very clear that Winston has taken the opportunity to flex his political muscles and remind the government who will be calling the shots in 2017 if National does not make a clean sweep of the polls. It might not have been deliberately timed to coincide with Key being away but it sure looks like it.
And while the government and the Maori Party have good reason to be miffed they have played into Winstons hands by publicly firing back at him. Winston gets to bank some more credibility with the NZ First faithful by sticking it to the Nats and â€œthose bloody Maoriâ€ while giving all and sundry a taste of what will happen if Winston is kingmaker in next year.
Meanwhile Bill English, hereby designated as â€œthe responsible oneâ€, rapidly shoved Nick Smith aside as what seemed like a done deal on the Kermadec Â Marine Sanctuary turned to custard and Smith proved about as useful as a chocolate fireguard on the negotiating front over fishing rights for Iwi.
Now again it might be the meds twisting my perception but my reading of the Governments logic behind the situation was this: â€œMaori and the Maori Party wont deal with us on the fishing rights issue and donâ€™t agree with it so we wonâ€™t bother consulting them and just keep on trying to run this throughâ€.
If this is the case can someone please explain what exactly were they thinking? Were they just simply unaware of this being a potential minefield of an issue or were they expecting Maori to just simply go along with this and say nothing.
In many ways it was a delicate issue from the get go with definite winners and losers no matter how it was played out and in effect, as others have pointed out, may be foreshore and seabed of this government.
Add to this Andrew Little suddenly deciding to pull Labour support for the sanctuary, and in the process giving Chris Finlayson and backhanded compliment by calling him a talented Treaty Negotiations Minister when queried about what Labour would do if they became government (which translates into â€œthey got themselves into it, they can get themselves out of itâ€) and you have a right royal muck up with National now caught between its own supporters, the Maori Party and other opposition parties and with no easy solution to fix this.
And if that was not enough we have the MPI scandal just coming to a boil with phrases like â€œindustry captureâ€ being thrown around and NZ First making further political hay by calling for a commission of inquiry as well as other parties swinging the bat at the government piÃ±ata.
Based on a leaked report there now seems to be enough ammo to fire off more than a few shots at government, MPI and the fishing industry (including Maori owned fisheries) to make headlines well into 2017 (although I fully expect the government to throw MPI under the bus much like the CERCO prison scandal except that Nathan Guy wonâ€™t get corn holed as badly as Sam Lotu Liga was).
None of these issues are directly related but in my medication clouded mind they seem to have some linkage simply because itâ€™s either fishing rights, fishing, Maori or the Treaty as the common thread between them all.
What is clear is that John Key will have a mess to clean up when he gets back (if he can).