Sneaky buggers those forests. Hard to keep track of. One minute they’re there, next they aren’t… a bit like Members of Parliament.
In today’s opinion piece TV3’s Political Editor Paddy Gower asked: “Is Simon Bridges
asleep on the job?” The fact that Bridges had to be told by a reporter that he had opened up the 200,000 hectare Victoria Forest Park on the West Coast for mining exploration in last week's block offer certainly smacks of a minister struggling and completely out of his depth.
As far as Greenpeace is concerned there is no question - Simon Bridges is very much asleep at the wheel. This past year he has recovered (with a little help from his friends) from a series of ministerial near misses. He has demonstrated his incompetence time and time again. But this is a serious wakeup call. No more demerit points and diversions here buddy. What he has just done, some might argue, is somewhat predictably drive his entire political career off a cliff.
Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, especially if there’s a whiff of political advancement hanging in the air. National's drilling and mining obsession is a hot portfolio that has been abandoned by a string of previous Energy Ministers such as Gerry Brownlee, Hekia Parata and Phil Heatley…
But young Simon rose-up to the challenge. ‘Don’t worry John, I’ve got this’, and he packed his sandwiches, puffed up his chest and headed out to try to make New Zealanders love drilling and mining as much as we love pies and jandals.
But there is no way to explain away this failure. He did not know he had just signed over the “pristine” and “untouched” Victoria Forest Park, the largest park of its type in the country, to be mined; he did not read the Anadarko oil spill document... Bridges has recently gloated he “reads a lot of books.” What’s he reading - The Luminaries? - because he’s clearly not keeping on top of his ministerial homework.
This is an example of an out-of touch Energy Minister who is asleep to the political significance of what he is doing. It is a clear demonstration of a blinkered fossil fuel obsession obscuring everything else.
So how much incompetence will John Key put up with? Will he come to Simon’s rescue? Flash that smooth smile and attempt to make it all go away? If he wants to maintain the illusion - or is it delusion? - of a Prime Minister in control of his ministers, he has only one option. Sack Simon.