The gossip mags would do well to leave Britney, Paris and the cast of Big Brother alone, they may well find more lucrative fodder amongst the pollies across the Tasman.

The past week has seen both leaders of the major New Zealand parties daubed with the dirt brush in scandals that make the Gareth and Cheryl shack-up look like a teenage fling.

Both sides spent last week hurling accusations of election misspending across the chamber, and while arguably more genteel than their yokel Aussie cousins, both sides of Kiwi politics have long threatened to unleash the piles of muck they allege to have on each other, and Labour was the first to get its hands dirty.

Snide references in parliament saw National’s bookish leader Dr Don Brash admit to marriage problems and the need to “spend more time with his family.” The papers were soon running shots of his supposed affairee, a blonde millionaire businesswoman who wouldn’t deny the rumours.

With Brash’s fingers caught for a second time in the extra-marital biscuit tin, National looked in for a bollocking, before an old chestnut was dusted off, and allegations Clark’s husband Peter Davis is gay got another sordid hearing.

Clark, whose deep voice, short hair, academic background and direct manner had her declared a lesbian long before she attained her grip on the Labour party, has come out swinging. She has accused National of reviving the rumours, which were alluded to in the latest issue of right-wing mag Investigate and pumped up by a bored Sunday media.

As well as an old photo of a drunk gay friend smacking a wet one on Davis at a post-election bash, the magazine alludes to allegations the science professor was involved in some kind of gay, possibly paedophilic incident in a San Francisco toilet block last year. Investigate editor Ian Wishart claims NZ diplomats had to be called in to extricate the PM’s hubbie, but admits no-one will corroborate the story so far.

Clark has been working the sympathy card over the past 24 hours, talking about her parents’ distress at the rumours on every current affairs show there is. It’s put National onto the back foot, forcing the party to deny it had any involvement in dishing the filth.  Interestingly, the shady Christian sect which controversially bankrolled some of National’s election campaign, the Exclusive Brethren, has admitted it was responsible for a letter to the editor in the Wellington paper questioning Davis’s sexuality.  Whether they had any role in the propogation of the gay rumours remains to be seen, but police have just today confirmed that Clark and Davis were followed by someone on at least one occasion.
With the local media hopping somewhat reluctantly on board for the ride and talk of more allegations to come, Days of Our Kiwi Lives looks to have a few re-runs left in it yet.

Peter Fray

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