The reputation of a top-notch Kiwi lobbyist has received a right
bollocking after his briefing notes on the pros and cons of various MPs
was splashed across the TV news.

Regarded as New Zealand’s most influential lobbyist, Mark Unsworth
won’t be getting many cocktail party invites for a while after the
contents of his $800-a-piece pollie crib sheet were given a right
working over on NZ’s TV3 news (a Kiwi hybrid of Channels Nine and Ten).

Known as the hottest bit of reading around the Beehive post-election,
Unsworth’s tome is not new – he has been doing it for more than 15
years and it is a particular fave with business-peeps who want to be in
the political know. The latest version was released just after the 2005
election, and features a number of corkers that have Wellington talking.

PM Helen Clark is described as a “control freak” who is “intelligent
but not brilliant,” Opposition leader Don Brash is “a true gentleman,
but not good on policy detail.” Maori Party newcomer, Hone Harawira
sounds like he’d be a nice fit for the Aussie political scene, Unsworth
says “he has a favourite response for strident critics: ‘Shut the f—
up’.”

Unsworth reserved some of his more burning conclusions for the likes of
Government ministers. Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope is
a “pompous prat,” while down on the backbench National MP Judith
Collins is described as a “shameless self-promoter.” The dreadlocked,
skateboarding Auckland Green Nandor Tanczos will be smarting in his
hemp suit; Unsworth deems him “no longer hip.”

But the real story is not what Unsworth wrote (the binder’s been around
for a few months and the MPs have already read it) but what he did to
elicit such a serving from TV3 attack dog reporter Duncan Garner. One
source said Unsworth’s sheet is contradictory and generally regarded as
a “load of shit.”

“For it to be splashed on TV3 out of the blue like that he must have
really done something to piss Garner off,” said an insider. Unsworth’s firm
Saunders Unsworth has until now been the uber lobby group on the Kiwi
block. Says our source: “The other lobbyists are just rubbing their
hands at the thought of getting hold of Unsworth’s accounts.”

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW