So the Pandas are generating a lot of discussion. It’s not just the ludicrous cost (while kids are going hungry, state houses are moldy, and AgResearch gets dismembered) – it’s the blatant disconnect from reality:
Dunne, Labour lash out over Brownlee’s panda mission
The Government has come under fire after 3 News revealed Gerry Brownlee was panda shopping in China while hundreds of Kiwis are holed up in Australian detention centres facing deportation.
Um, chasing pandas while New Zealanders languish in Australian detention centres???
— Peter Dunne (@honpeterdunne) September 29, 2015
Pandas seem to have been the last straw for Peter Dunne yesterday:
Our foreign policy lacks any commitment to human rights. …
In recent years though our foreign policy has become too craven and trade-focussed and lacking a moral compass. In short, we have become too silent, lest we cause offence.
We have a right to expect our foreign policy to be evocative of our independence and nationhood by upholding human rights and dignity, and to stand up for New Zealanders when and where necessary. It is time to abandon the chin-dripping subservience we are lapsing into.
Matthew Hooton is clearly running his own agenda these days, but I don’t think he’s wrong in this piece (paywalled), proposing a replacement for “jumped the shark”:
John Key ‘cuddles the panda’
Mr Key this week declared he wants pandas at Wellington Zoo. Don’t we all. His wife, we learn, is fond of them. Aren’t we all. But so important is this matter to our nation’s destiny that Mr Key plans to raise it face-to-face with no less than the President of China, Xi Jinping. To pay for the pandas, Finance Minister Bill English will take some money out of the surplus, if there is one, or borrow it.
It has been clear for some time that Mr Key has no interest in the prime minister’s job of the sort that legitimises someone holding it. … What polls suggest may be the prime minister’s humiliation in the flag referendum next year may provide him with a suitable pretext to step down. He should take it.
The usual cliché for a column like this dates from the 17th century: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”
But while the Government is keen on the panda project, which would use taxpayers’ money to bring two pandas to New Zealand, John Key says he didn’t know Mr Brownlee was on a panda pursuit.
Lying or incompetent? – Take your pick.
I know that the Nats (i.e. their Crosby Textor handlers) are good at spin. And I know that some commentators think that spin is all that matters and all the Nats concentrate on. But surely Pandas aren’t worth the damage the Nats are taking over this. Surely this is one lightweight piece of fluff too far?