Well, the government needed Graham Kelly like it needed a hole in the head. The comments by the former left-wing Labour MP for Mana as High Commissioner to Canada have left it yet again on the defensive, and with no really good options either way.
The transcript of evidence to Canada's Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is online here. In context, the remarks look a little less offensive (some of what Kelly has to say about reform of the fishing industry is quite interesting) - but no less foolish, ill-advised or embarrassing. Kelly - never the sharpest knife in the caucus drawer, which is why he's in Canada rather than Cabinet - clearly thought he was being clever. Not.
He could have said that the government has worked with the leaders of migrant communities to emphasise the importance to New Zealand of conservation practices, which would have been true. He could have noted that some people try and cheat the system, which would have been true. He could have phrased his anecdote about the Pacific Island church congregation "strip-mining" a beach in such a way as to make it clear that not all PIs do this. In short, he could have taken Craig Ranapia's advice in a post over at Kiwiblog:
Perhaps the next time Mr. Kelly wants to wax lyrical on history and ethnography, he should 1) know what the fuck he's talking about, and. 2) learn the difference between the Canadian legislature and open mike night at a second rate comedy club (or a NZFirst rally which is much the same thing).
Ironically, the story actually emerged in the newsletter of Murray McCully, who has not been renowned for his sensitivity to Maori interests. From there, it was a ballistic press release from Tariana Turia, a rare foray from Act's generally invisible Kenneth Wang and a stern statement from National's Pansy Wong.
Overnight, Kelly "unreservedly apologised to all New Zealanders", which naturally wasn't enough for Wong and the Greens' Metiria Turei on Morning Report today. Turei wanted him to return to New Zealand to personally apologise to all the communities he had offended (I kept picturing a sort of repentance roadshow) and Wong declined to acknowledge that he had in fact apologised. You could hear Phil Goff's pounding headache loud and clear on 101.4 FM.
Final irony: Kelly got a largely sympathetic hearing from the Nat-Act voters posting to DPF's blog. We live in confused times …
Especially so where Michael Jackson is concerned. The bizarre Flash animation posted at one of his official sites, mjjsource.com (remember his "innocence" day alongside the birth of Martin Luther King, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the freeing of Nelson Mandela …) says pretty much everything you need to know about the delusional nature of the Jackson organisation. The site itself is currently swamped, but there's a story about it here. Jackson was once astonishingly great. Now he's just astonishingly, sadly weird.