Jim Hopkins’ column in the Herald is worth reading in full:
We interrupt this column to bring you a News flash. There are unconfirmed reports that the New Zealand Economy has died. For more, we cross now to the Beehive Hospice, where our Qantas Award-winning Health Reporter, Fiscall Creepe, is standing by.
Thank you, Dialogue Page. And, yes, you’re right. It is a sad day in Wellington where, as you can see, the New Zealand flag above the Inland Revenue building is already at half mast which suggests these tragic reports are true although I stress there has been, as yet, no official confirmation.
Our highly trained team of 18-year-old Polytechnic graduates understands that Mr Goff will be doing a topless interview with Alt TV soon and more may emerge then.
Meanwhile, we are getting some grim eyewitness accounts. One inexplicably cheerful Wellington taxpayer told me he’s seen several hundred newly appointed policy analysts flinging themselves out of their recently redecorated 10th floor offices.
And while that won’t affect productivity much, we must assume they know something we don’t or they wouldn’t risk doing some very serious damage to the roofs of those beautiful new Ministerial BMWs when they land.
So it appears the reports of a demisement are true and if that is the case then it may come as no surprise. Harold readers are well aware that The Economy, which was admitted to Parliament yesterday for a routine Budgetectomy, has been showing signs of weakness for some time although most of us didn’t appreciate how critical things really were.
However, there were a few people who did, including the visibly shaken Dr Michael Cullen, who may or may not have been at The Economy’s bedside when the end finally came.
“We did our best,” was Dr Cullen’s terse comment earlier today, when asked if it was true that The Economy had actually expired. “I did make it clear,” he added, “just before we performed the Budgetectomy, that there are always risks with these procedures, especially in an election year. I’m confident The Economy understood that. There was certainly a smile on its innocent little face when I made my first tax cuts.”
Dr Cullen said those cuts had been made “prudently” with a view to alleviating “key areas of political inflammation”. The former history lecturer insists this is “precisely what a doctor does in election year if they want to keep operating”.
“I know some critics allege it’s nothing more than cosmetic surgery but that’s irrelevant. It’s all taxpayer funded and therefore essential.” Dr Cullen says it’s long been his view that “anything we can do to make The Economy feel better is worth tinkering with”. He points out that “spendorphins have always improved Electile Dysfunction in the past” so there’s no reason to think they won’t do so again.
“Most voters still haven’t worked out it’s their own money we’re giving back to them,” he says. “That’s why it never occurred to me, before yesterday’s operation, that a university here or a boost in Super there would do The Economy any harm at all.”
While refusing to comment on The Economy’s health, he did reveal he’d “spoken to the family – The Property Market, Job Prospects, Interest Rates and Export Earnings – and told them to expect bad news”.
“They know the vital signs are very weak, perhaps even terminal,” says Dr Cullen who, for the past eight years, has been treating The Economy with an exotic mixture of conventional and alternative therapies.
“I explained to them how we’ve used leeches to bleed The Economy for all of that time, partly because my diagnosis has always been that we know how to spend other people’s money better than they do and also because I’m aware that when we spend it, it’s not inflationary but when they do, it is.
“But I did advise The Economy’s family that this has caused severe constipation in the lower polls which is why this year’s Budgetectomy involved major infusions. I thought these would improve The Economy’s circulation although there was always a risk the dollar would drop sharply, meaning everyone would pay even more for luxuries like petrol, food and new railway trains.
“But when The Economy’s health and your own longevity are inextricably linked, that’s a risk you’ve got to take.”
Angrily rejecting suggestions his Budgetectomy was merely palliative care, Dr Cullen said he didn’t need to explain his decisions to the media – or Phil Goff. “If people don’t like it, they can always go to Australia,” he snapped. “And good luck to them. What matters is that we’ve successfully got another group on the fiscal drip – last election it was students, this time it could be Grey Power – so our prognosis is better. Of course my heart goes out to The Economy but we’ve got our own health to worry about.
“As I said to my anaesthetist, Mr Winston Peters yesterday, just before the operation, when the going gets stuffed, the stuffed get going.
“And that’s what we’ve done.”