Like Oscar Wilde – not to mention a child who doesn’t differentiate between positive and negative attention – Gareth Morgan appears to subscribe to the view that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
Assuming that’s the case, the economist/early-investor-in-Trade-Me/millionaire philanthropist/leader of The Opportunities Party has been having a week that may have caused him – to evoke the words of another irascible, plainspoken fellow he’s been compared to in the past – to get tired of all the winning.
For starters, there was the revelation Mr Morgan had donated a further $730,000 to his pet political project post-election, bringing the total beneficence TOP has enjoyed from its founder to $2.13 million – and putting him in an utterly unassailable position at the pinnacle of the donor list for Election 2017.
As an added bonus, this news also gave him the chance to remonstrate with a news organisation (TVNZ’s sin was to misinterpret the, ahem, top up as being toward setting up the party for the 2020 election):
(According to TOP deputy leader Geoff Simmons, the party is "committed to continuing" but whether it contests the next election "depends on whether there is still a need for an evidence-based voice that promotes best practice policy not pursued by the government.")
And Mr Morgan soon had another opportunity to cry “fake news” when The Spinoff reported that “Gareth Morgan is shutting down the Morgan Foundation to double down on TOP.”
Not so, apparently:
Fortunately, Mr Simmons was on hand to provide a clarification, sans histrionics – the organisation is not being shut down; the policy people are just being laid off, that's all:
Of course, Morgan watchers would have been forgiven for believing he had hit Peak Gareth when he decided that the ‘news’ the “First Cat of New Zealand” (ie, prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s moggy, Paddles) had been hit and killed by a car was a good time to re-air his view that felines need to be kept on a tight leash – or, better still, eradicated – for the sake of the environment and native birds.
(Oddly enough, Mr Morgan’s timing was widely remarked to have been a tad insensitive.)
But lo, TOP’s (not-so-en)dear(ing) leader did indeed manage to, yes, top himself by sending the following response to list candidate (and the party’s “‘boring’ tax expert) Dr Jenny Condie, after she had the temerity to suggest that maybe he should pull his head in on the cat comments, mate:
Soon after receiving the message, Dr Condie posted it to social media, while also noting that her TOP email address appeared to have been deactivated; she later told RNZ’s Kim Hill that it was perhaps best she does part ways with the party, given the ever-widening gap between its professed policies (which she still supports) and its “culture” (ie, Mr Morgan).
It has been pondered in the past what the TOP leader hopes to achieve with the way in which he conducts himself.
It gives NBR no small amount of pleasure to be able to confirm, in Mr Morgan’s own words, that it is indeed all part of a cunning, apparently failsafe plan:
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