National's new plans for a leaner, meaner ACC have drawn a sharper battleline between it and Labour. Now it's knighthoods.
It is no coincidence that Prime Minister John Key chose to start what is looming as a particularly bloody political week with a feel-good decision to reinstate knighthoods. In a week where the Government has its axe poised over heads at ACC and Corrections there is even a certain medieval symmetry.
The move back to knights and dames will be controversial in some quarters (arise, the Republican movement).
There will be accusations of cronyism, although the list of 85 notable New Zealanders who are now in line for a knighthood is reasonably light on former politicians. You can be sure, however, that Labour will be beadily eyeing the next round of honours at Queen's Birthday weekend for evidence of the charge.
But who could argue with addressing the legendary Colin "Pinetree" Meads as Sir? Like Sir Ed, he is one of those rare Kiwis who will always be greater than any title that might be bestowed upon him.
Amen to that! I have seen reports that Sir Colin is coy about a title, reckoning his drinking mates will give him a hard time, but deep down, we reckon he'll be hugely chuffed!
But onto ACC. Watkins reckons that the sweetness and light of the new government's first 100 days has gone:
But if in its first 100 days National cut its cloth to suit its "don't scare the horses" platform, its second 100 days seem to be about ringing the changes.
That will be reinforced this week, when ACC Minister Nick Smith sacks ACC chairman Ross Wilson and several of his board members.
Dr Smith's reasons are likely to be less about the apparently parlous financial state of the corporation, than a lack of confidence in Mr Wilson and other board members to drive through changes in ACC of the depth and breadth that the Government is likely to demand.
Change in the ACC board is essential. Why? Because huge changes are needed to ACC, and the government is quite realistic in Keeping Stock's opinion to expect that a board of Labour-aligned lackeys will be unable or unwilling to implement that change. So it's "off with their heads".
But why do we have a lingering feeling that ACC is only the tip of the iceberg?