Bill English used his first trip out of Wellington as Prime Minister to visit affected communities along the Kaikoura Coast yesterday, including at Kekerengu on the coast between Kaikoura and Ward, but his welcome was far from friendly or honeymoon-like.
English was harangued on camera by Clarence farmer John Murray over a lack of action of fixing the roads in the area. Watch the video to get the full force of it, including an aggressively defensive response from Gerry Brownlee.
"We had a meeting here three weeks ago and Gerry was here, and we left full of hope that something was going to happen. We have sat down there for three weeks and nothing has bloody well happened. It's shocking, it's the absolute pits," Murray told English to his face at a gathering that included 40 locals and Brownlee.
"They've made patch-up repairs all the way through and the roads from Ward and Waipapa Bay should have been upgraded. I reckon it's piss poor and if that's what our government feels about us and how we deal with emergencies then I'm afraid you have lost a lot of votes," he said.
Brownlee was not impressed.
"What I can say is NZTA have not been sitting on their backsides. The amount of work that's gone in to try and sort things out here is just extraordinary. Sorry you're frustrated, but I'm pissed off that you took that attitude quite frankly," he said back to Murray.
Let's hope the Kiwi vernacular gets through your spam filters. ;)
McCully to go
Elsewhere, Murray McCully yesterday announced he would not stand again at the next election, creating the highest profile gap in the cabinet for Bill English to fill on Sunday.
It's not clear whether he was pushed or jumped (or a combination of both), but he pledged his support for English and left open the option that English kept him in the Foreign Minister role until the next election.
"Bill English has my complete support and I want to ensure that New Zealand's international relationships have a smooth transition from the Key Government to the English Government. How I might best contribute to that process is a matter for the Prime Minister," McCully said.
However, English has indicated he wants to name a cabinet that could take the Government through the election and on to 2017, which would suggest a fresh Foreign Minister is in the offing.
Potential replacements cited include Todd McClay, Jonathan Coleman and Simon Bridges.
In other economic and political news...
In more news that is lifting migrant abuse into the public consciousness, Faroz Ali was sentenced to 9 and a half years in jail after being convicted of dozens of charges of people trafficking and exploiting Fijians on temporary work visas. MBIE also highlighted several more cases of migrant abuse yesterday involving a Nando's franchise and a chain of Indian clothing stores.
Tuesday's Auckland University report detailing widespread migrant abuse has elevated the issue. Michael Woodhouse downplayed the report in Parliament as indicating isolated incidents, but this issue is rapidly gaining traction and Woodhouse's position appears tone deaf.
Have a great weekend and look out for a few long reads below.