Bill English meets the media

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Righto, well here we are again. Another twelve months have passed, and we’re another year closer to that brighter future we’ve been talking so much about.

This will be the sixth time I’ve stood here in front of the printing presses, waiting for the first copy of the year’s Budget to roll out. They will be turning the presses on in just a minute, and then you’ll have your photo-op of yours-truly holding aloft a copy of the 2014 Budget document.

Wait, hang on a moment. That’s my phone ringing. Just give me a second.

Hello? Hello Maurice. Look, I’m actually in a meeting right now. In fact, to be more accurate, I’m standing before a media scrum in front of the printing presses, about to do my usual pre-Budget photo-op. Can I call you back?

Oh, it’s urgent? [turning back to the media] Just give me a minute, will you? [then back to the phone] Right, what’s the problem?

Maurice, we debated all of these issues weeks ago in Cabinet. Have you forgotten already what it was like to be in Cabinet? Why didn’t you raise this issue then? The Budget is finalised and the man in blue overalls is waiting for my command before he pushes the print button.

Oh, I see. He only just rang you now?

Just wait a minute. [turning to the man in blue overalls] Is it too late to make any last-minute changes? Oh, I see. No, no, don’t print yet. Just give me a second.

Are you there, Maurice? No, I’m sorry. It’s too late. You’ll have to call Mr Liu back and give him my apologies.

No, Maurice, that’s fine. By the way, how’s the garden? No, that’s just my little joke. Bye, Maurice.

[Turning back to the gathered media] Sorry about that. It’s Maurice. He works so hard for his constituents.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, the Budget. I’m very proud of the efforts we’ve made to get government spending under control, and I think you will find that this year’s… oh, excuse me, that’s my phone again.

Hello? Judith, I thought you were on a break. What can I do for you today?

Oh. Did he? No, that’s going to be impossible. It’s about to go to print, and it’s too late to make any changes.

Yes, I am sure. It cannot now be changed.  In fact… it’s set in Stone! Stone! Ha ha! Did you like that, Judith? That was my little joke. Do you get it?

No, you’re right, it’s probably no laughing matter.

Yes, Judith, I’m sure there will be plenty in the Budget for everyone, except for the people we don’t like, and we all know who they are, even if many of them they don’t know it themselves. There may even be something in there for the dairy industry. Goodbye Judith. Arrivederce. Or should that be Oravida-derci? Ha ha!

Sorry, folks. I should probably turn my phone off. Just let me… oh, wait, another phone call. Hello Michael. Did he call you too? What does he want now?

No, you’ll have to tell him it’s too late. We’re going to print. Sorry, Michael. No, that’s fine. Bye.

[Turning back to the media] Guys, I’m really sorry about that. I was just saying… would you believe it? That’s my phone again. I’ll let it go to answerphone. It’s probably the guys from Phillip Morris again.

Hang on a minute. It might be…

Guys, let’s come back and do this tomorrow.