Some people move to Australia for work, some move for the sunshine and some move because they like to be near creatures that can poison or eat them, however my sole reason for moving to Australia was to get away from this man.
His name is Mike Hosking. If you're not from New Zealand you'll have no idea who he is and should consider yourself bloody lucky. He's one of those middle-aged, boorish, self-righteous, right-wing blow-hards you find blowing themselves hard on multiple media platforms in most Western countries, think a pinch of Jeremy Clarkson, with a smattering of Sean Hannity and a prick of Piers Morgan. Mike is everywhere in NZ. And I mean EVERYWHERE. Most outsiders think New Zealand is nothing but sheep and Hobbits but it's not, it's nothing but sheep and Hosking, although now most of the sheep have fucked off to be replaced by gaseous cows busy shitting in rivers, so New Zealand is nothing but cows and Hosking, Hosking and cows, farting and shitting as far as the ear can hear and the eye can see. You know in the movie of the book by Orwell starring Hurt and Hurt only has one tele that he can't turn off and every time he looks at it there's this big face telling him what to think and do... in NZ that face is Mike Hosking. Mike knows everything about everything and he's not afraid to tell you all about it all the time on television, radio, newspaper, Twitter and there is no escape, there is only submission and subservience to the Hosking juggernaut. I was terrified he'll suddenly turn up on TV over here but after the one million dollar Paul Henry Channel 10 fiasco I foolishly believed I could remain unexposed to his radioactive right-wing field of crap.
But the internet put an end to that. This morning I clicked on the NZ Herald app and for some reason the first headline that appeared was 'House Prices Represent Success In Life'. That sounds like the headline to a witty piece of satire I thought and being game for an early morning chuckle I clicked on it and Mike won. Mike found me, he knows where I am and I haven't got the energy to run anymore. His Remtentacles ('Rem is Mike-speak for Remuera where Mike lives and tentacles are what Mike has instead of arms), reached out through my smartphone screen and coated my eyes with a smeary smarmy army of Hoskingisms.
"What the house prices represent is not dissimilar to what the dollar represents: success."
"Success is the outworking of demand."
"The dollar is on a roll, housing is on a roll, we're on a roll. These are golden days."
So in Mike's world, a housing bubble making it virtually impossible for first home buyers to buy and a high exchange rate to discourage NZ exporters, foreign tourists and contribute to a trade deficit means golden days, probably because Mike is pissing all over us as he delivers another sermon on the mount. Only yesterday a principal economist from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research declared the Auckland housing bubble to be the equivalent of a ponzi scheme, but he's only got an Honours degree in Economics so what the hell does he know. Mike left school when he was 16 and lives in the real world and the economist is renting! Renting! What a loser!
As well as being excited about a housing bubble and the Kiwi dollar nearing parity with the Oz dollar, (one can imagine Mike ringing random Australian phone numbers late at night with his designer jeans round his ankles to gleefully scream "Parity!" at the poor unfortunate who answers before hanging up to finish Hosking himself off), Mike is exploding with the belief that NZ has Australia by the, "short and curlies". 'It's over!" screams Mike. Pick any indicator, left, right, hazard lights, Australia are rooted! Australia is over a barrel and Mike is right behind ready to give it a bloody good seeing-to with his mighty currency.
But, here's the thing. I live in Australia, and the truth is Australia couldn't give a shit about NZ's currency. The NZ dollar doesn't even make it on screen during the financial bit of the news over here. Bluntly, we need them a hell of a lot more than they need us. I'm no fan of Don Brash, but he knows a thing or two about economics and here's what he said in 2007...
"There would be nothing remotely attractive about having closed the gap to Australia [by its economy declining] - as our largest trading partner and largest source of inward foreign investment, Australia's success matters greatly to us."
Yes, the Aussie economy is going through a downturn, but that's largely due to an oversupply of iron ore and an oversupply of Tony Abbott, but both of these will come to an end, hopefully one much sooner than the other. Melbourne is growing by around 250 people every day. There are eight apartment buildings going up within a few blocks of where I live. One is probably large enough to accommodate Ashburton. New Zealand is an amazing place, full of incredible people and businesses doing incredible things, but to say we've, "nailed it" because we almost reached parity makes no sense no matter how many cents our dollar is worth.
Boo! Hiss! What a party pooper Cooper! Let's hear some more from the Hosker...
"This little nation of four and a half million produces a dollar that is at least as appealing as that monstrous land to our left. "
Ah, the old per-capita/small population gambit, used since the dawn of time to make us feel better about only winning one gold, two silver and seven bronze medals. Yes, the NZ economy is doing well, but I suspect its official cash rate of 3.5% compared to Australia's rate of 2.25% and dropping may have something to do with our sexy come hither dollar being so irresistible. I got a C+ in first year economics and 88% in my audio engineering diploma so I know about these things.
But I don't own a house. Mike owns a house. Maybe two. Maybe more. And now it's cheaper for him to pop over to Melbourne to buy his Ksubi jeans so we're all good and golden bro. Who gives a toss that the level of child poverty in Godzone has doubled since 1983 with around 280,000 kids going to school hungry and who cares that the top 1% of adults own three time's as much of the country's wealth as the entire lower half put together, success is measured by the value of your house and the value of your dollar.
And if you haven't got your hands on either, tough luck.