John Armstrong's opinion: What presents should Santa give to some of NZ's top politicians this year?

There are two kinds of turkeys in this world.

The Beehive, New Zealand's Parliament. Source:

There are the turkeys which get roasted on Christmas Day and there are the turkeys who normally devote the other days of the year to roasting each other in the country’s Parliament.

There has been little that has been normal in 2020. One institution has been spared the ravages of Covid-19, however.

Thanks to the insertion by the Cabinet of a special Santa claus(e) in quarantine regulations, Saint Nick of the North Pole was exempted from the obligatory 14-day stint of managed isolation which currently applies to all arrivals in New Zealand.

It was very bad news for the aforementioned first category of turkeys. But Christmas was saved.

That has left us pondering what gifts Santa placed under the Christmas trees in the households of that other breed of gobblers this year. 

Here are some none-too-serious suggestions.

Jacinda Ardern

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The Prime Minister says she’ll be enjoying a barbeque. Source: Breakfast

A 14-day stint in managed isolation. Seriously. We are not joking.

Before you think we have lost our marbles, we ought stress that we are not talking about placing the Prime Minister under quarantine.

What we are advocating is that Jacinda Ardern is much deserving of respite from the unrelenting, exhausting and seeming never ending war she has been obliged to wage against COVID-19 during the 10 months or so since the virus made it to these shores.

No-one would surely begrudge her taking some R and R to recharge ahead of the business of politics resuming in earnest towards the end of the first month of the new year. Her staff would no doubt rush at the chance to isolate their boss from the phone and have her go AWOL.

We might have suggested an Air New Zealand mystery weekend were the risk not that the mystery destination might turn out to be a wet weekend in Invercargill.

By her own admission, however, Ardern is not someone who is able to switch off. Given the explosion in case numbers in the United States and Europe, along with the and the emergence of a new strain in England, the virus will not allow her to do so anyway.

On top of that, Ardern will be conscious that the Opposition would deliberately misconstrue any easing of effort on her part to tackle Covid to accuse her of failing to devote 110 per cent effort to battling the evil microbe.

Ardern can hardly expect a sudden outbreak of bipartisanship given she has shut National out of any say or role in determining how the myriad of coronavirus-related matters ought best be best be managed.

Grant Robertson

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The Finance Minister spoke with Jack Tame, who suggested the Prime Minister has been largely silent since the Tax Working Group’s report came out. Source: Breakfast

A capital gains tax? Maybe. But maybe not.

The Finance Minister might have been in the market for a capital gains tax which maximised revenue from the minimum number of people before Winston Peters pole-axed the whole idea and Ardern announced that she would not be revisiting it while she remained prime minister.

The latter was tacit admission that a capital gains tax would be a gift, one that would keep on giving to National.

Judith Collins

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The leader of the National Party promised that her party would come back stronger for the 2023 election. Source: 1 NEWS

A compass, radar, GPS or some other navigational aid to work out in which direction a directionless National Party is currently drifting.

Whether that is the direction National ought to be travelling is another matter entirely.

Winston Peters

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The NZ First leader has addressed a small crowd of supporters at the Duke of Marlborough in Russell. Source: 1 NEWS

Or will it soon be “Sir” Winston Peters? A knighthood is in the offing for the former deputy prime minister, foreign minister, founder and leader of the New Zealand First party for the past 27 years, and member of Parliament for 36 of the past 42 years.

We won’t find out whether he has accepted the award until the New Year’s honours list is released or even not until the Queen’s birthday list in another six months.

It is also possible he might opt for membership of the highest honour, the Order of New Zealand, instead of a knighthood.

Trevor Mallard

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It follows a long defamation battle costing taxpayers at least $80,000. Source: 1 NEWS

A full-length mirror so that Parliament’s Speaker can offer no excuse for not taking a long hard look at himself over the summer recess.

Nanaia Mahuta

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Mahuta would not be drawn on how her approach may differ from previous foreign ministers, however. Source: Q+A

A Lotto ticket.

Prior to the post-election Cabinet reshuffle, you would have rated the likelihood of the long-serving Hauraki-Waikato MP and picking up the prized Foreign Affairs portfolio as the same as winning Powerball. With luck patently running so heavily in her favour, the Labour front-bencher could do worse than investing in the state lottery’s bi-weekly draw.

Regardless, Mahuta’s shock promotion is testimony to the adage that never say never in politics.

James Shaw

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Co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson will hold onto their already announced ministerial portfolios. Source: 1 NEWS

Life memberships of Air New Zealand’s Koru club to be distributed to those Green Party colleagues who regularly top the list of MPs who take most advantage of the perk of MPs’ free air travel.

So much for the so-called climate “emergency”.

David Clark

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The MP is just the latest Labour Cabinet minister to resign. Source: 1 NEWS

An Exercycle to be kept in his bedroom or garage to replace the mountain bike which landed the former health minister in hot water with the Prime Minister.

Should there happen to be another lockdown imposing restrictions on travel, Clark will be free to pedal for as long as he likes without getting into trouble.

Pedalling on an Exercycle means he will end up going nowhere fast — just like his political career.

David Seymour

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The once lone MP will now bring in nine others to Parliament. Source: Q+A

A copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

What possessed ACT’s leader to whine and whinge about the Cabinet’s decision to exempt Santa from Covid-related quarantine?

Seymour argued that Ardern’s creation of a fictional travel “bubble” between New Zealand and the North Pole was designed to create a distraction from ongoing delays in getting the real thing operating between New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands. How pathetic, joyless, feeble and pitiful can you get?

So much so that you had to wonder whether Seymour’s press statement complaining at length about Ardern’s proclamation of a fake travel bubble was some kind of spoof on his part. If so, we failed to get it.

But then it appeared to escape Seymour’s notice that granting Santa exemption from managed isolation was in line with precedent set earlier in the year regarding the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

Seymour’s latter-day impersonation of Ebenezer Scrooge was par for the course coming from a political party which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Well, bah humbug to that.