Government appointed Speakers are always contentious, but Mallard…

…is the one currently in the gun for being tough on National MPs, and particularly struggling to tolerate Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges. And National are getting more vocal (reckless) in criticising Mallard’s protection on Government MPs, particularly Jacinda Ardern.

Bridges and Gerry Brownlee were turfed out of Parliament by Mallard yesterday – see Bridges, Brownlee ordered out of Parliament – which shows that the intolerance and antagonism is unlikely to diminish.

Why would Ardern need paternalistic protection of the Speaker? From what I’ve seen she is capable of standing up for herself quite adequately in Parliament.

Audrey Young (NZH): Bridges punishment was fair but Mallard’s intolerance is an ongoing problem

Parliament’s Speaker, Trevor Mallard, has an inbuilt bias against National Party leader Simon Bridges and a soft spot for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

That much has been clear since Mallard took the chair just over a year ago. Bridges gets under his skin.

But what is also clear is that Bridges crossed a line in the House today and cannot credibly object to having been thrown out by Mallard.

No one is complaining that Bridges and Brownlee got turfed out yesterday – least of all Bridges. He has used the additional publicity to voice his accusation that Mallard protects Ardern.

It was during questions to the Government about the Karel Sroubek case that Bridges accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of “ducking and diving”.

Such a description is not unusual in the cut and thrust of politics, and barely raised anybody’s eyebrow – except Mallard’s.

Mallard stood up to object – we don’t know whether he was about to make Bridges withdraw and apologise and put him on a final warning.

But before he could mete out punishment, Bridges said: “Here comes the protection.”

That was the offending phrase and that got him ejected from the House – and for that there can be no objection.

It crossed a line. It can be easily argued that Mallard was too quick to leap to the defence of Ardern after she was accused of ducking and diving – not that she requires any help from Mallard in the chamber.

Mallard crossed a line the day before.

Mallard’s intolerance was on display yesterday when he referred to Bridges’ questions as “smart-arse” which is also an appalling lapse by a Speaker to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mallard did apologise for that remark.

And during an exchange with Brownlee, he basically agreed that tighter standards apply to Opposition questions than to answers by Government Ministers.

He can’t stand a bit of cross-house banter and he seemed personally offended when MPs interject in the second person.

The sadness of Mallard’s speakership is that he had hopes of inserting himself less into Question Time than other Speakers, but he is doing the exact opposite.

On Newshub this week, Winston Peters tried to suggest that Mallard was not behaving like a Labour MP, but that is not true. It is impossible to take the politics out of the politician.

It would be difficult for Mallard – a Labour Party member since 1972, a Labour MP since 1984 (with a one term break when he lost his seat in 1990), a member of the Labour-led Cabinet from 1999 to 2008, and a parliamentary colleague t of Ardern’s in Pa – to  become totally impartial.

On a good day, when he is in a good mood and does not expect perfection, when he is in a mood to help the Opposition hold the Government to account, Mallard is the best of Speakers.

His stewardship of the House as the Opposition sought answers from the Government over its decision to exempt Te Arai Development from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill was exemplary.

The stakes were high. He bent over backwards to be fair to all. It was the House at its best because Mallard was at his best.

Unfortunately, the good days don’t come often enough.

The last couple of days were not good for Mallard.

Today may be different – neither Ardern nor Bridges will be in Parliament today. But Brownlee may be.

 

Leave a comment

29 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  December 6, 2018

    Mallard’s problem is when things get tough he falls back to his first job, school teacher.
    Unfortunately he obviously was that male, know all, bullying school teacher we all remember from our school days and it shows.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  December 6, 2018

      ‘ Audrey Young and Barry Soper say that Mallard was justified Bridges has well and truly overstepped the mark.’

      Coming from Audrey…!!

      Reply
  2. Noel

     /  December 6, 2018

    Aw every opposition politician, partisan supporters and media have labelled the Speaker the worst they have known..
    At least she was prepared to state the obvious. Bridges and Brownies brought it on themselves..

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 6, 2018

      Smart-arse is not an expression that one expects from someone in his position and especially not in the House.

      Reply
  3. “No one is complaining that Bridges and Brownlee got turfed out yesterday ”
    Most of the Nat MPs marched petulantly out when Bridges and Brownlee got the heave-ho. How is that not “complaining”?
    What were they doing – celebrating?
    Dead cat, on the table.

    Reply
  4. robertguyton

     /  December 6, 2018

    National is attacking the Speaker. Low, miserable, pinched, pathetic politics. They’ve learned nothing from failing to get into government; same miserable, visionless, ethically-lacking rubbish from them.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  December 6, 2018

      Good morning, robert. Have you risen early and watched TC’s Ted Talk now? I’m looking forward to your answer to the excellent argument that nuclear power is the way to go in many places as fossil-fuel power-generation is wound down.
      https://yournz.org/2018/12/05/concerns-about-a-climate-revolution-particularly-post-revolution/#comment-330202

      Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  December 6, 2018

        Me too, Gezza – not up early today though and preparing for the arrival of my grandchildren – I’m on grandfather duties all day today but will watch the nuclear TED when I get the chance. Right now, I’m taking the opportunity to express my disgust at National’s juvenile behaviour in the House – marching out, like high school students protesting school rules! (Tempted to write “Pf……” you know the rest, but in recognition of a new era of gentlemanly behaviour here, I won’t).

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  December 6, 2018

          Yes. I don’t think it was juvenile behaviour in the House. It was quite a smart move. Trevor is horribly biased against the opposition and overly tolerant of the same misbehaviours by members of the government coalition and particularly the deputy prime minister. This tactic was successful in bringing this matter to public attention on tv last night on 1ewes at 6 last night where unusually for an item fronted by Jess his 2 second sound-byte was an excellent performance, very on point. Winston’s and Labour MPs sound-bytes were juvenile and it really showed.

          Reply
          • robertguyton

             /  December 6, 2018

            Yes, I remember a similar juvinile walk out by Labour, The Greens and NZ1st in protest of David Carters biased decisions when he was Speaker…oh, hang on!!!
            Tactic? Petulant desperation from an Opposition making no ground.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              I imagine that’s true although it was a long time ago and Labour are of course in power now so one would think they would be a lot more understanding and want to have a word with the Speaker who seems to me to be even more blatantly biased against the opposition than his predecessor was. Niceness doesn’t seem to have been a characteristic the current speaker feels obliged to demonstrate, and in fact I don’t recall any other speakers during my lifetime having physically assaulted a political opponent. Or a staff member.

            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              *Or a staff member (in the case of another Labour whose name need not be mentioned but who is no longer in Cabinet as a result of the PM apparently thinking they did it despite their denial).

            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              The other thing I remember is that a previous speaker justifiably ejected the current deputy prime minister on numerous occasions often to the deputy pm’s own merriment and amidst suggestions that he may have had other appointments at restaurants with off-licenses.

            • robertguyton

               /  December 6, 2018

              “The other thing I remember…” and did his MPs follow him out in dribs and drabs?

            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              Petulant desperation from an Opposition making no ground.

              Oh, quite the contrary I’m afraid. Even with the often rather shallow girly team of tv political reporters openly swooning over and adoring Jacinda as one of them they have openly admitted on many occasions that despite Simon’s failure to resonate with the intelligentsia and the remainder in the populati the National Party as a whole has scored some crackers of bullseyes against the fumbling, bumbling incompetence of inexperienced and still rather unprofessional performances of a plethora of Labour Cabinet MInisters. Several senior members of Cabinet show every sign of being so impervious to learning they will be easy targets for their entire terms of office.

            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              “The other thing I remember…” and did his MPs follow him out in dribs and drabs?

              I don’t recall who they were so can’t say I’m afraid. A few of them aren’t there any more. Possibly they left in a bloc because they had appointments at the same restaurant.

      • Noel

         /  December 6, 2018

        I would like to go to solar now that panels are lasting longer. No incentives been proposed by the Greens?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  December 6, 2018

          No idea. The only ones I pay any attention to are JAG and Owngoal Golriz.

          Reply
          • robertguyton

             /  December 6, 2018

            Your use of nick/demeaning names for politicians is frowned upon and moderated against by Pete George, though in your case he seems to let it slide, hypocritically, Imo. “Real names please” Pete intones – when it suits him.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              She has scored quite a number of silly own goals though, you would surely agree? It’s Blazer’s label for her and I’ve always thought it was rather amusing because of the play on the G. Sometimes I like some of his humour.

            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              I must say, too, that I think Mr George displays a quite remarkable tolerance towards many of the things you say about him and about politicians you loathe for reasons you seem unable to articulate. And sometimes I feel you’ve been quite mean to me. Possibly owing to misunderstandings.

            • robertguyton

               /  December 6, 2018

              If we can do that for Golriz, is it okay for the other MPs? I’ve seen a few crackers for several of the Natty team. Pete? As for being mean to Pete, it’s always surprised my why posters here feel Pete is exempt from criticism. Is it because he’s The Host and therefore god-like in his pronouncements? Farrar get’s criticised a lot on his blog and doesn’t burst into tears, though I notice some of his supporters behave as they do here, fuming and putting their little fisties up.
              You said: “And sometimes I feel you’ve been quite mean to me. Possibly owing to misunderstandings.” and I thought, I could have written that of you! Let’s take greater care.

            • Gezza

               /  December 6, 2018

              Well, I don’t think Pete is exempt from criticism by posters here. There have been several who have argued with his positions on matters and I don’t always agree with him. I think he exercises judgement when making moderation calls and he sometimes pots me for something he thinks is wrong. He seems to have a broad sense of humour and to allow the posting community an opportunity to resolve niggles themselves before needing to step in a grandfatherly way and administer a redaction.

              Have you ever tried saying the sorts of things you say to PG to lprent and how did that work out?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 6, 2018

              I see no reason why people shouldn’t use initials. Most of us say NZF (or YNZ).

  5. robertguyton

     /  December 6, 2018

    I don’t believe Trevor Mallard is running the House poorly, I see his management as good. I know many of those from the Right will see it differently – perception is coloured by political bias, as we all know and experience here. What’s interesting here is the attempt to make the Speaker the subject of debate now, not the Leader of the Opposition, who after all, was the one who broke the longstanding rules of the House. Do Righties here support rule-breaking? I must look back over comments on topics such as whistle-blowers, secret-taping, hacking computers and so on, just to check that hypocrisy isn’t raising it’s blue-rinsed head. I did enjoy Winston’s observation that the rest of the National Party MPs left the House “in dribs and drabs”!

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  December 6, 2018

      I don’t believe Trevor Mallard is running the House poorly
      For the length of time he’s been on an MP’s, Cabinet Minister’s and now Speaker’s salary I imagine he’s pretty wealthy. He’s really cracked it this time because he can play Teacher and no one’s allowed to talk back and he gets heaps more dosh than when he was a real teacher and he might even get about four months off like them as well.

      I see his management as good
      I think you are probably a bit biased towards that viewpoint by your political preferences, to be honest. As I tend to regard all politicians with equal disdain these days and have no particular political preferences, being open to what seem to me to be good policies from whichever party is promoting them, and having observed different speakers in operation from time to time, I think on balance Trevor is more biased towards the opposition than David was.

      Lockwood Smith would I think be probably the most even-handed and sensible of the crop so far.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  December 6, 2018

        *Trevor is more biased against the opposition than David was – sorry, just to be clearer what I meant.

        Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  December 7, 2018

    Another leak to Beehive Letters. Nobody tell robert.

    Reply

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