Our MPs have pretty tough jobs. Representing the dozens of electorates from around New Zealand every single day, whilst hashing out new legislation, is no easy task. That’s why on Saturdays our proud MPs love to kick back and unwind. These are just some of their stories.
Simon Bridges (National, leader of the House, all-rounder, capo)
Simon Bridges is sleeping in late this Saturday. He wakes up groggy and cranky at 2:00 pm and removes the shower cap he sleeps in every night. His assistant delivers a weekly family pack of shower caps to him early on Friday morning. The shower caps are the only effective method of containing his torrent of oiled hair when he is sleeping, and Simon uses one, sometimes two per night. He stumbles around in the dim light, alone in his large room. The only light is entering through some small cracks in his large velvet curtains. It is now that Mr Bridges begins his Saturday ritual. He sits, legs spread wide-open in his dressing gown on his very expensive black leather couch. He spends exactly three minutes looking at a photograph of himself shaking hands with former Prime Minister John Key, while intermittently sipping a tiny white wine. He puts the photograph down.
“It’s show time.”
He fires up his favourite movie – Wall Street (1987) – and removes his dressing gown. Hours pass, but still nothing. He is still not aroused.
“Come on damn it,” he barks at himself. He has already watched his favourite scene twice. “Come on, greed is good... Say it, greed is good... Economic development... Growth... Adam Smith... Growth... Unlimited growth... Growth! Ah fuck it!”
He turns off the screen in a rage, defeated once again – but by what, he cannot say. He slumps into his en suite bathroom and applies a fresh shower cap before spending an hour spitefully comparing his CV to his enemies’ on LinkedIn. Simon finally falls asleep at 6:30 pm in his $6000 massage chair.
James Shaw (Greens, co-leader)
James Shaw is attending a Green Party barbecue this Saturday. He arrives and makes his way to the back yard of the host’s home, where he is greeted by twenty to thirty Green members and supporters. James grabs a craft beer from the table and joins the team. They are three or four veggie burgers in and everyone is having a good time chatting in a large circle. Someone from the corner pulls a small box from their pocket and removes an expertly rolled spliff. They light it up, and it makes its way around the circle. When it is James’s turn the party grows quiet and all eyes turn towards his nervous hand as he takes it. Everyone is dead silent. James notices the lull and everyone staring at him. He gets this a lot.
“I-It’s ok guys... I’m cool.”
All is silent and every pair of eyes in the circle follows the joint as James puts it to his mouth and takes a shallow drag. He exhales and peers around with a curious expression as if to say ‘see?’ Reassured, the party starts up again and the conversation becomes lively once more. Soon conversation turns to politics and a young bearded man, new to the group, begins his rant against the government’s stance on privatisation in recent years.
“... It’s like they don’t even pretend to care anymore,” to which the people around him nod in agreement, “... But it’s like I’ve always said – the real problem will always be Capitalism.”
The party grows quiet again, and people can be seen wincing and looking around and even a couple of ‘oh noes’ can be heard. All eyes move once again to James, who is standing quietly and looking at his shoes. He breaks the silence.
“It’s just... Well... I believe the free market is a pretty good system, as long as nobody is exploited and it can provide a wider good, that’s all.”
There are a few nods among the circle as Mr Shaw looks around, confident in his statement.
“Of course it is, James,” Metiria Turei pipes up, putting her hand on James’s shoulder and looking around the circle for support. “It is a pretty good system, that’s right!” and a few quiet ‘yeahs’ can be heard amongst the murmurs. The party begins again and James takes Metiria aside.
“I’d better go.”
“No, James please stay. These guys are just a little hard-core. It’s not a big deal.”
“I know, it’s fine. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
James walks back to his car and hops in, placing his hands on the steering wheel. He closes his eyes and exhales. He then opens his wallet and takes out a photo-shopped picture of the Dalai Lama in a business suit doing the thumbs-up.
“One day they’ll understand. No one said it’d be easy.”
Jacinda Ardern (Labour, deputy leader)
It is a glorious Saturday morning in Mount Albert. Jacinda Ardern wakes to songbirds and sunlight streaming in through her flowing curtains. She checks her Hello Kitty® alarm clock and sees it is still early. Jacinda cannot concentrate on the birds, though. Instead, she listens closely to the same sounds that have begun her mornings for the past three months:
“Andrew Little will get us lots of votes ... Everything will be fine ... Your party is not a shambles.”
She listens to the audio file on her headphones as she gazes around the room. She has slept with the headphones on since February, and has gradually needed to increase the volume since then.
“A leadership coup at this point would be bad for your party. Just wait it out.”
“Just because you are the preferred leader among many voters, does not necessarily mean you should be the leader.”
She begins to fidget. ‘How many days until our election, again?’ she thinks to herself. She draws her knees up under the covers and sits, staring at the motes of dust floating on the air.
“Think of the unions... those are all Andrew’s.”
“New Zealand voters are sensible and will base their votes on the issues, and not on the personal appeal of the parties’ leaders at all, I swear.”
It begins to rain heavily outside.
“The Labour Party is a well-organised and coherent party that New Zealanders will easily vote in this time, I swear.”
She gets up and walks into the bathroom, keeping the headphones on. Leaning on the sink, she stares herself down in the mirror. The sink is clogged with hair. It was never that bad before she started wearing the headphones.
“The Chinese names in the house-registry thing was a totally fine thing to do. And even if it wasn’t, everybody who didn’t like it will have forgotten about it by now.”
She closes her eyes and sighs deeply, “Fuck.”
“Thirty-seven is too young to be leader of a country anyway. Just look at France... you have to be at least thirty-nine...”
Jonathan Coleman (National, health)
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is pacing his large office in the Beehive. It is Saturday but he hasn’t got time to relax. Two walls of his office are filled with screens, displaying various figures and data in real time. His assistant enters the room with a large glass of milk.
“Here you are sir, I’ve got your milk.”
“Don’t you remember our little chat, Sarah?”
“Oh, oh my apologies, Doctor.”
“Yes. Yes I like to be called Doctor in private because I have earned it.”
Jonathan Coleman only has one vocal cord – around the size of a rubber band. Before press meetings he does some neck exercises he learned in med-school to tighten it up so his voice doesn’t scare away the public. But today is Saturday and there is no press to be seen, and Jonathan Coleman’s voice sounds like the death rattle of an elderly boar dying alone somewhere in the wilderness. His assistant hands him the glass of milk and he drinks all of it immediately.
“Oh sweet nectar, my ambrosia! This is the lifeblood, it is the essence,” he croaks. “Now, let’s take a look at Dunedin shall we?”
He pushes a button on his desk and several of the screens change to show Dunedin hospital. The screens display various graphs, charts, and figures. There is also CCTV footage of the main entrance to the hospital, the executive board rooms, and staff toilets.
“Now, let’s pull up a figure for this week,” Mr Coleman rumbles, and then magnifies one of the graphs.
“Ha! Look at that Sarah, they’re barely hanging on! They barely have enough sticking plasters.”
“How can we help them, Doctor?”
Jonathan swivels around in his chair and stares at her, perplexed. “You haven’t been here very long, have you?” He busies himself again with his desk. “We aren’t going to help them, Sarah. I thought someone would’ve told you by now. We are cutting all non-essentials. We are going to balance the budget, and show these free-loaders that publicly funded hospitals do not work – by cutting their public funding. Don’t you see? If they want a good hospital, they are free to build their own – it’s a free country. Have you ever read Ayn Rand? It’s-”
But Jonathan drank his milkies too fast and does a big hiccup before spewing a fountain of milk with yellow and black bile onto his desk.
Winston Peters (New Zealand First, leader)
Winston goes to the beach and eats a big bag of prunes.