Adjusting to chosen hands on levers of power

John Lapsley
John Lapsley
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 hard-earned 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 finish-line 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 out-of-work 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.

 - John Lapsley is an Arrowtown writer.




Iam perturbed by the impression you have given that there are rubber plantations in New Zealand.

That has never been the case. There was a modicum of tapping around old Batavia, but rubber is largely a Malaysian operation.

Rubber trees are not scorched. Neither does our leader do wheelies. Sometimes, lads drive round our neighbourhood on three tyres, on a list with one wheelbase trailing sparks.

Do not waste time attempting to make sense out of nonsense.






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