Elections, predictions, and near-convictions

Reflecting on life in the real world, Mark Chamberlain gets prepared for 2023.

In Home Block5 Minutes
Graduation day: from left to right the Chamberlain clan’s Lily, Josef, Madison, Pippa and Grace outside parliament.

Reflecting on life in the real world, Mark Chamberlain gets prepared for 2023.

WELL, THAT’S THAT. ANOTHER year down, 2022, done and dusted. Bookended in the Chambo household by an overindulgence of a never-ending ham, new potatoes, and of course pavlova.

It was a year remembered mainly for me as one of staff dramas, the loss of my mother-in-law, and a good old-fashioned burglary to really kick me in the buttocks in the middle of the Spring.

Onwards and upwards for 2023 then? Oh bugger, that’s right… it’s election year.

To be fair, it should be interesting. There will be the usual Labour vs National fight, a classic twohorse race. Fortunately, (or unfortunately) my best-educated guess is that the Prime Minister will resign early in the New Year, making it National’s to lose. I say this because when the going gets tough in Wellington, the tough usually get going on an  aeroplane to a cushy diplomatic post.

The cracks were beginning to show in December with Nanaia Mahuta doing as she pleases regarding the Three Waters debacle and the pressure is obviously taking its toll on Ms Adern who, it seems, was kept somewhat in the dark.

Luxon’s National Party will have to tread a fine line, supporting farmers on the down-low while appearing ‘woke’ on matters such as climate change to pacify the middle-ground party vote.

I have long believed Southland could do with another MP. The National Party needs to be smarter. MP, Joseph Mooney (National), has not done a bad job for a first term. When you are a former lawyer living in Queenstown, however, it can be hard at times to relate to a predominantly rural base. This humble sharemilker’s way of thinking would be for Mooney to jump on the party list and anoint a new MP who is of rural stock. The two of them could work hand in hand to get National’s party vote up as it is incredibly poor.

I would happily fill Mooney’s vacated spot but unfortunately, when I was younger, I ‘suffered’ (check out that spin) an alcohol event that required the wearing of a suit to sort… if you know what I mean. Moving forward, I did not have any ‘learnings’ from this event and nor did I ‘endeavour to do and be better’, so right on cue a second event ensued which required yet another visit to Invercargill’s downtown in my trusty suit, fast-forwarding some much-needed final rewiring of my frontal cortex.

I am happy to publicly out myself to illustrate the point that in recent times, elected officials have come under ever-increasing scrutiny by the puritan brigade – so much so, that Joe Average need no longer apply. So, what we are left with, are advocates and commentators with ‘good talk and good face’ who have never really had to fight toe-to-toe… figuratively of course. This seems to also apply to many who represent farmers in advocacy roles, who appear to suffer from Labrador Syndrome in thinking that a good result is getting your belly rubbed.

A picture taken a year ago at our daughter’s graduation resurfaced recently. I love it. Five children, five different personalities, all standing their ground on the steps of Parliament.

As I took the photo, my son Josef was captured looking the face of innocence despite having instigated the dispute. It feels as though this is a metaphor perhaps for what is happening lately inside Parliament’s buildings with its elaborate smoke and mirrors and clear inability for anything partisan to happen – despite the country desperately needing direction and a desire for the common good. I’m proud that my children are all conversationally robust. They are also learning the art of diplomacy and how to agree to disagree peacefully. Democracy has always relied on someone who is prepared to speak up and speak out and we need this now, in 2023, perhaps more than ever.

As the saying goes, common sense is not always that common. Sadly, it seems, neither is common ground.