2016: What lies ahead

4:22 pm on 27 January 2016

OPINION: Toby Manhire & Toby Morris

What is this 2016 of which you speak?

It is the year that falls directly after 2015 and before 2017

And what should we expect to happen?

Sean Penn will publish a controversial interview with fugitive Mexican drug lord El Chapo. Controversial retailer Dick Smith will fall into receivership. The hotly anticipated, multi-platform controversy-obsessed Checkpoint chez Campbell will launch to widespread acclaim.

Haven't these things already happened?

They have. In 2016.

Wouldn't it have been more useful to do this illustrated question-and-answer format online column before the year was already well under way?

Possibly. But for the most part the New Zealand year only really begins around the end of January so we're OK.

What should we expect, then, for the rest of 2016?

In New Zealand?

Good place to start. Briefly, if you don't mind.

Pressure to commit more troops in the war against Isis. Conjecture around whether Key will seek to emulate Holyoake and win a fourth term as PM. Conjecture around making the TPP law. Conjecture around the economy and jobs and poverty. Conjecture around John Campbell's spectacles. Local elections across the country, with the Auckland mayoralty contest potentially triggering a Mt Roskill by-election. More flag. A visit from the US president - maybe. Unexpected events. But most of all, Richie McCaw and Gemma Flynn's wedding plans.

The US president visiting NZ? The new one?

No, the one that's on his way out. But the presidential election will be an inescapable carnival of news in 2016.

Clinton vs Trump?

It is true that Donald Trump has defied countless assertions that he is but a flash in the star-spangled pan to remain in front of the Republican field, but the smart money still seems to be on Marco Rubio, or even Ted Cruz, prevailing. For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is fancied to hold off Bernie Sanders, but it could be close there, too.

Any other big elections?

There will be another contest for a major global leader - some say the second most important after US president.

Mayor of Auckland?

No, the secretary general of the United Nations.

And will Helen Clark win?

She's in the mix, certainly, but so are plenty of others. The crucial question for the coming months is whether campaigners succeed in changing the system of appointment to a wider and more transparent General Assembly vote, or whether it remains pretty much a Security Council permanent-member stitch-up.

What about Europe?

The impact of Isis, both as a terrorist threat and a force propelling people to flee the Middle East, will continue to be felt. Then there's Britain.

Is Britain part of Europe?

Well, exactly. This year Britons will vote in a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union. It is shaping up to be very close. Prepare yourself to grow tired of hearing the portmanteau "Brexit".

How about Asia?

These are big questions for a humble illustrated question-and-answer format online column.

Have a go.

Wobbly economy under even greater scrutiny, potential for growing dissent within party over anti-corruption drive, heightened tensions in the South China Seas. And in the Middle East, of course, the multi-faceted mess of Syria will rumble on.

Oh well, at least there will be sport to distract and entertain us.

Sport! Yes. There will be much to enjoy about sport in 2016. Apart from fallout over the allegations of widespread match-fixing in professional tennis, more cricket scandal, the ongoing criminal investigation into world football governors FIFA, and the disgrace over athlete doping in Russia.

Still, the Rio Olympics should be fun.

They should. But - and sorry to be so gloomy about things - beyond the usual concerns about the readiness of facilities, Brazil is embroiled in political scandal amid police violence and a fragile economy.

SBW in the Sevens, but.

True.

What about technology and all that?

The magazine Wired predicts there will be growing hacking risks related to the growth of the "Internet of Things", and a shift to more civilised online discourse, which is a nice thought. Please leave your comments below.

Any anniversaries to look out for?

A century since the Battle of the Somme. Seventy-five years since the Pearl Harbour attack, 50 since the start of China's cultural revolution and 15 since 9/11. The Queen turns 90. Twitter turns 10. We will mark 400 years since William Shakespeare's death and 70 since David Bowie's birth.

Condense 2016 to 25 words.

Elections and war. Death and taxes. Left and right. Tragedy and comedy. Bread and circuses. Sons and daughters. Love and laughter. Tears of sadness and happiness.

That was 26.

Yeah, but it's a leap year.

How about five?

Only 47 weeks till Christmas.

Toby Toby stamp

* This column is part of a weekly series published every Wednesday, by graphic artist Toby Morris and journalist Toby Manhire.

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