A small Flaxmere, Hastings church has been wasting money with full page newspaper advertisements, pressing people to sign a petition urging the government open an Embassy in Israel. Where do I start?
First, the naivete of the public. Parliament cops hundreds of petitions annually, on every conceivable subject. Some poor backbencher draws the short straw and formally accepts the petition on Parliament steps which is then to all intents and purposes, filed in the rubbish bin.
Sometimes this is followed by a speech from the petition ring-leader to the usually about 20 followers. For whatever reason this occurs around lunchtime. Then, with placards aloft, they attempt to march down Lambton Quay but are quickly thrown into disarray by the herds of fat girls pouring out of government offices in pursuit of cream buns.
We regularly shift about our buildings to enable our staff to get a feel for them. Up until four years back our offices were in Legal House opposite Parliament’s Lambton Quay entrance and rare was the day when I didn’t observe these farcical but entertaining petition-presenting aftermaths.
As for the embassy proposition, perhaps the Flaxmere church could explain what a New Zealand embassy would do in Israel.
I hesitate to bite the hand that feeds me as we have a dozen or so foreign embassies in our buildings. As I like lavish offices, following a shift to another of our buildings, my offices are quickly snapped up by an embassy, the ambassador captivated by my over-the-top personal office, he and sometimes she, plainly seeing it as appropriate for themselves.
Embassies are a costly anachronism and should have been abandoned half a century back. Unfortunately New Zealand is guilty of wasting millions on them as well.
For example, we opened an Embassy in Ethiopia a few years ago, in return for its vote for New Zealand to cop a two year token term on the Security Council, as if it had any value other than inflating the ego of our delegate.
Three years ago, in Addis Ababa, out of interest we looked them up. They were ensconced in several rooms in the city’s best hotel, with its various diversions of several swimming pools and a variety of restaurants to help pass the time.
Nearly a century ago Evelyn Waugh wrote the wonderfully comical “Scoop”, thereafter categorised as the journalist’s bible. This was set in then Abyssinia, now Ethiopia and among other things portrayed the indulgent daily life of the British Embassy and its staff, not merely oblivious but totally uninterested in the civil war then raging in the city.