• John Key is Missing

    Concern is mounting over the whereabouts and welfare of the Prime Minister, John Key. He has not been seen on television or heard on radio for nearly two hours. Worried aides say that they have no idea where he might be. The Diplomatic Protection Squad have enlisted the help of the public who are asked to monitor their television screens and radio stations for any sign of him.

    “This is completely out of character for John Key,” a police spokesperson said. “There is no recorded instance since he became Prime Minister of his absence from the media for as long as two whole hours.”

    The Prime Minister’s office, however, says that there is no need for panic, and no evidence that anything untoward has happened. Their only concern is that Mr Key apparently suffers from a rare medical condition that means that – without the stimulus of a television camera trained upon him – he is prone to falling into a coma. “It is essential that we get him to a television studio as soon as possible,” an aide said.

    One theory as to why the Prime Minister has disappeared is that he had been upset when a camera malfunction meant that an interview he gave as he lifted weights at the World’s Strongest Man competition could not be broadcast. His office said that this was an unfortunate incident. “It’s possible that this triggered the onset of withdrawal symptoms.”

    The last confirmed sighting of the Prime Minister was as he disappeared – concealed as the back end of a pantomime horse – at Trentham racecourse. The horse was eventually recovered but the back end was empty.

    There was a brief glimmer of hope when he was subsequently seen on regional television dressed in a hula skirt but it was rapidly established that this was archive footage, taken from an hourly programme called Getting To Know Your Prime Minister.

    Television news broadcasters said that they were worried but the situation was not yet critical. They conceded, though, that if the Prime Ministerial absence continued into a second day, they would have to re-schedule their programming to take account of much shorter news bulletins. They also hinted that if the Prime Minister remained missing, there was the risk of some job losses among camera crews.

    The organisers of a popcorn popping contest in Auckland today said that if the Prime Minister was not available to judge the best popcorn, they had a stand-by arrangement that meant that Marc Ellis would step in. “We don’t think the children will notice,” one said.

    Organisers of other sports contests, children’s parties and charity events through the day had made no contingency arrangements, however, and feared that they would have to cancel. There was good news for some, though; the Defence Minister confirmed that if the Prime Minister’s whereabouts remained unknown, RNZAF pilots would be given the day off.

    The Deputy Prime Minister has called an emergency Cabinet meeting, so that Ministers can be advised on how to answer questions and make statements about their portfolios. “Ministers will need some special coaching,” he said, “since most will never have had the experience of dealing with these matters themselves.”

    There has been little impact on the stock exchange so far, and inquiries overseas have only just got under way. First indications are, however, that the Prime Minister is unlikely to have gone offshore. A White House spokesperson, asked if he knew anything about the whereabouts of John Key, said “Who?”

    Bryan Gould

    6 May 2011