Parliamentary swipe card list tears lid off secret society
Call them the Swiper-arti.
The mysterious, all-powerful and hidden ones who can control the world by having a parliamentary swipe card.
The card probably has 666 embedded in its chip. Holders of the swipe cards do not – unlike others with parliamentary access cards – have photos on the laminated surface, because their faces do not show up on film.
We learned, late last night, of the identities of the Swiper-arti.
Their existence has been long-hinted at, in guarded whispers, muttered asides, and the occasional frothingly indignant press release from the Green Party – and, since they lost power, the Labour Party.
The fact that the man with the most famous swipe card in the country, lobbyist Mark Unsworth, has had his for 15 years and was allowed to keep it by both National and Labour governments appears to have gone over the heads of some fairly indignant Labour MPs.
We have known for a while Mr Unsworth is, with business partner Barrie Saunders, one of – perhaps the leading – Swiper-arti. Others have been suspected for a while, but last night's announcement by Speaker Lockwood Smith confirmed their dark names, and laid them bare for all to know.
They include, we learned in the dark hours of July 26, Business New Zealand's Phil O'Reilly and Council of Trade Unions boss Helen Kelly.
No surprises there.
Those of us who have been studying the runes, and have been watching too many episodes of Ancient Aliens or the X-Files, have long had these two tagged as part of some international conspiracy, along with Council of Trade Unions president Peter Conway.
Then there are the wives of former MPs John Falloon and Doug Kidd. No surprises there, either. If you're looking for anyone who is part of some dubious global conspiracy, then you'd start looking among National Party wives.
Jordan Williams? He looks like a new recruit to the Swiper-arti. He looks new, full stop. The fresh-faced spokesman for anti-MMP lobby group Vote for Change is a fairly savvy lawyer, but for all that he looks about 18.
Similarly youthful is Daniel Fielding, a solicitor with Minter Ellison and also a board member of the Young Nationals.
But the Swiper-arti always need new blood. And lots of it.
Nicholas Albrecht, who deals with government relations for Vector and who is also known to have strong National Party connections, also qualifies as new blood.
Russell McVeagh partner Tim Clarke has a bit more mileage on the clock and he, too, would not be known to anyone other than the more obsessive conspiracy theorists – although he is often seen around the canape and cocktail circuit in Wellington's Bowen Triangle.
There were a few more surprises.
Leigh Pearson is probably the most obvious dark horse, having gone from TVNZ reporting in the Press Gallery to communications work for various government agencies, particularly in the foreign affairs and trade sector.
She is now working on her own for a lobbyist, mostly on trade-related issues.
Charles Finny was no surprise: a spiritual member of the Swiper-arti even before he got his card, he is a former trade diplomat who moved in to heading the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce before moving into the Saunders Unsworth fold.
Sky TV's Tony O'Brien is long suspected of being a leading Swiper-arti member: pay television and lobbying go together, globally, like flies around a Kaimanawas long-drop in February.
But it is nevertheless good to have this confirmed.
Finally, we have perhaps the most mysterious Swiper-arti of all, Pastor Rasik Ranchord.
The pastor runs the Parliamentary Breakfast Group, which among other things prays for guidance for those who govern us.
To which we can all only say, Amen.