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Hot mic pricks our curiosity

Until this week, I had never come across the phrase ‘hot mic’, but after two politicians’ gaffes, I’ve become rather obsessed.

Both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown were forced to run damage control after certain comments were picked up and broadcast.

To be fair, Brown’s speculation about Auckland Airport’s expansion, which resulted in a sharemarket maelstrom, was not unintentional.

He meant to say it, he just shouldn’t have.

Ardern’s pot-shot at Act Party leader David Seymour on the other hand, was certainly not for public consumption, but consume it we did – with no shortage of glee, and perhaps just a touch of schadenfreude.

It felt good to see a crack, or a prick, in the kindness veneer.

Although Ardern swiftly apologised, a day later in the House, she seemed less repentant.

“I’m aware that comments I made in the House yesterday in regards to the leader of the Act Party were recorded on the Hansard … I wish to formally, in this House, withdraw and apologise for those comments.”

God bless the Hansard reporters.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon was quick on the draw, with the classic – does the PM stand by all her statements and actions?

“Yes, Mr Speaker – insults and apologies.”

To which I say, bravo. Thou who has not been tempted to call a colleague an “arrogant prick” shall cast the first stone.

Brown was even less repentant, and his attitude post-gaffe invited a comparison to Ardern’s analysis of Seymour.

The new Auckland mayor found himself in hot water after mentioning that Auckland Airport was planning a major capital fundraiser for a new domestic terminal – in a public meeting live-blogged by media.

Because the council owns 18 per cent of the airport, which is also publicly traded, Brown gave the appearance of sharing insider information.

Information, that should be released to all investors at the same time.

When NZ RegCo learned about the capital raising speculation, it halted trading in Auckland Airport shares.

It turned out Brown was wrong. The airport is planning to borrow money to fund the terminal.

But what a circus, and it’s a bit embarrassing.

He later said he was merely ‘speculating’ before telling media, he had nothing to apologise for.

Auckland Airport may feel differently.

I have since found that there has been no shortage of ‘hot mic’ gaffes from political leaders.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott joking about rising sea levels on Pacific Islands, David Cameron saying the Queen had ‘purred’ down the phone to him, former French President Jacques Chirac’s quips that the only thing the Brits had ever done for EU agriculture was “mad cow disease”.

But, I have to say, the most amusing comes from then-Prince, now King Charles because it was just so heartfelt.

“I hate doing this. Bloody people.” He muttered while speaking to a pack of journalists days out from his wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles. Next, a swipe at a BBC reporter.

“I can’t bear that man … He’s so awful, he really is.”

To which I also say, bravo. That’s a hot mic.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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