Some humour in politics

Sorry Rodney, this is sad, but it’s also funny.

As a former leader of the Act Party I am expert on poor polls and being written off ahead of every election. It’s no fun.

I well remember after suffering months of unremitting bad news and negative reports getting a text from a senior journalist: “Congratulations!”

I was staying in yet another town a long way from home, exhausted, vainly trying to drum up support.

I remember the elation. Wow. Finally some good news. Filled with eager anticipation I texted: “Thx. Wot 4?” The answer shot back: “Sry. Wrong no.”

That’s very funny.

I have had some low moments in politics but that would be without doubt the lowest.

That’s sad. Politics can be a very hard and thankless job.

Merkel congratulates and warns Trump

Angela has done the diplomatic thing and congratulated Donald Trump, but has also warned him about “shared values”.

Deutsche Welle: Merkel congratulates Trump as politicians express shock

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated Donald Trump on his win in the US presidential election, before underlining the importance of their countries’ relationship and reminding the president-elect of their shared values.

“Whoever the American people elect as their president in free and fair elections, that has a significance far beyond the USA,” the chancellor said in Berlin on Wednesday.

“Germany and America are bound by their values: democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position,” she added. “On the basis of these values I offer the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, close cooperation.”

Perhaps Metiria Turei and the Greens could learn something from this approach. See Greens versus Donald Trump.

The initial cooperation between the two countries is likely to be tense. At one point in his election campaign, Trump described Merkel’s immigration policy as “a total disaster,” and the immediate reaction to his victory across Germany’s political spectrum was shock and uncertainty.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen put a brave face on as she became the first senior member of Merkel’s government to offer her comments. Trump’s win, she said, was a “heavy shock.”

“Of course, we Europeans know as NATO partners that Donald Trump will ask himself what we are contributing to the alliance,” the conservative member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told TV network ARD. “But we will also be asking, what is your position on the alliance? Many questions are open. A responsible and open America is in our interests.

“I also think that Donald Trump knows that this wasn’t an election for him, but against Washington, against the establishment,” von der Leyen added.

Many did vote for Trump, he had an enthusiastic and strong support base, but anti-Clinton and  anti-Washington votes clearly made the difference between losing and winning.

Since Trump was confirmed as president elect he has moderated his comments substantially, even praising Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

He will have to learn that international diplomacy is a very different skill to business wheeling and dealing, and also to ‘reality show’ television.

Merkel is under pressure in Germany politically but she has a lot of experience dealing with difficult leaders and awkward and complex international issues.

Congratulating Paul Henry

In a possibly controversial interview Paul Henry congratulates himself and hates on many others.

NZ Herald: Paul Henry reveals why he hates people

Shock is his stock-in-trade, but talking to Greg Bruce, the controversial broadcaster takes it to a whole new level. Not surprisingly, content may offend.

“F*** ’em!” Paul Henry said, having just walked in on a conversation about organisations that want him to attend their evening events.

“What are they morons, these people?”

He seems to think that quite a few people are morons. But not himself.

An interview with Henry, especially one as long as this one, boils down to a lot of this kind of thing: outrageous claims, insults, self-aggrandising statements, insults embedded in outrageous claims, self-aggrandising statements dressed as insults.

He was asked bout his influence on changes on the competing Breakfast show on TV1.

“Yeah,” he said. “So – basically – TVNZ has got the shits up itself. Basically. Yeah, yay for me. No, I like it: ‘Paul Henry; yay for me.'”

Later, when I asked him what he thought about what has happened with TVNZ’s Breakfast, he said he doesn’t think about it. He followed that up by saying he gets great joy from seeing people improve as a result of trying to compete with him.

“So you would be happy to see that?” I asked. “If they do a better job on Breakfast?”

“They can’t,” he said. “They can’t.”

“Not a better job than you,” I said, “but if they improve their own product, you’re happy about that?”

“Absolutely,” he said, “because it’s a direct result of me. What have they told you so far? And I’m talking about you, as a viewer. They have told you that they have been perfectly happy to produce shit for all this time because no one has put them under pressure to produce anything other than shit. And the reason we know that is the fact that they just offloaded the shit. Unceremoniously, they have offloaded the shit. Not because they wanted to produce a really good product – because they have never wanted to do that, otherwise they would never have had shit in the first place – but because I came along. So, yay for me. I should be congratulated.”

Congratulated by morons?

Having succeeded in prompting one show of one media company to offload “the shit” perhaps Henry could go on a crusade and clean up more of the media. There’s a lot of shit out there.

Including in his interview.

Congratulations to new speaker David Carter from parliament

David Carter speaker

David Carter was elected 29th Speaker of Parliament yesterday. All party leaders congratulated him, starting with Prime Minister John Key. In brief:

John Key: You bring to the House your wisdom of your time both in Parliament and prior to that. In my experience you are someone who is extremely fair, someone who is thoughtful, and someone who has a real passion for the parliamentary process.

Peter Dunne: Mr Speaker-Elect, you bring to this Parliament a background of many years service, a wide range of community and other contacts, a real feel for the average New Zealander, a decent sense of what is right, and a good judgment of fair play.

David Shearer: You have served here 18 years and that experience will, I am sure, serve you well as you take up this new position.

Tariana Turia:  One of the things that we have noted is that you have had an ability to build relationships because of your thoughtful and constructive manner.

Gerry Brownlee: I know that you have taken a huge amount of interest in the processes of the House, and I am sure that you will have quite an instinctive feel for how the House needs to operate.

From draft Hansard:


Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister)

Mr Speaker-Elect, can I be the very first in Parliament to congratulate you on your successful election and to wish you the very best for your time as Speaker of this Parliament.

Members of this Parliament know you well, but some members of the public may not know you as well, so for the purposes of that I thought it would be useful to summarise David’s achievements so far before taking up the role as Speaker-Elect and soon to be Speaker of this Parliament.

He was, of course, elected to Parliament in 1994 as the MP for Selwyn. In the 1996 general election he was the Banks Peninsula electorate, before becoming a list member based in Canterbury in 1999.

David was elected junior Government whip in 1996 before being promoted to a Minister outside Cabinet in 1998. He returned to the Opposition benches as spokesman on finance, housing, and tourism from 1999.

Following the 2008 general election, David’s ministerial responsibilities included Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, and, of course, Minister of Forestry. David was appointed Minister for Primary Industries, incorporating agriculture, biosecurity, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, following the 2011 general election, and Minister of Local Government in early 2012.

As he himself mentioned, he is a former student of St Bede’s, and this Parliament today has four other members who went to St Bede’s: Peter Dunne, Clayton Cosgrove, Gerry Brownlee, and Damien O’Connor. I say to those members congratulations on your world-class education, and commiserations for not going to Burnside High School.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: The rugby wasn’t good enough.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, the rugby possibly was not good enough, but I understand that it has improved since I left. In terms of further education, David went to Lincoln University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree. He has held a varied career in farming and business before Parliament.

Speaker cartoon

He established New Zealand’s first commercial cattle embryo transplant company, so he shares a great interest with the former Speaker, of course, who also has a strong interest in agriculture.

In his spare time he farms beef and sheep properties on the Banks Peninsula and in Cheviot in North Canterbury. David is married to Heather, and they have four children, all of whom are in Parliament today to witness David’s election, and we welcome them here today.

Mr Speaker-Elect, I congratulate you on behalf of the Government on your election as Speaker of the House.

You come to this role with 18 years of experience as a member of this House, and both as a Minister, a member of the Opposition, and, of course, as Government whip.

You bring to the House your wisdom of your time both in Parliament and prior to that. In my experience you are someone who is extremely fair, someone who is thoughtful, and someone who has a real passion for the parliamentary process.

In my time as Prime Minister I have seen you work with both officials and other Ministers to try to achieve good, balanced, and sensible outcomes for New Zealand.

You have had the guiding hand in the largest industries in New Zealand in terms of agriculture. I have found your counsel always one to be sensible and wise.

I was delighted when you indicated that you would accept the nomination as Speaker, and I am equally delighted that you have been elected today.

Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Revenue)

Mr Speaker-Elect , can I warmly congratulate you on your election to this role. In fact, I think I have probably known you longer than anyone in this House. Our association goes back to Loreto College in Christchurch—primary school days—and then the years at St Bede’s.

You are not unfamiliar with centre stage. You, after all, I recall, graced the boards at one stage as the lead in HMS Pinafore , and showed deft singing and acting skills, while I, along with your brother, at the time was left to be a mere hornpipe dancer in the chorus.

Although some things have changed, what has not changed has been the sense of fairness and compassion and genuine interest that you have shown over all those years. As you take on this role as the Speaker of our Parliament, that set of virtues will be more and more in need than ever before.

I should also say that you are part of the reason I left the Labour Party. Your election in 1994 in the Selwyn by-election precipitated within the Labour Party a series of moves that led to my departure a few months later, so I am grateful to you for that as well.

Mr Speaker-Elect, you bring to this Parliament a background of many years service, a wide range of community and other contacts, a real feel for the average New Zealander, a decent sense of what is right, and a good judgment of fair play.

Although you might wish to be a referee in the sense that some others have been in the past, I caution you, if I may, on this occasion about emulating your predecessor Sir Gerard Wall. Sir Gerard had a particular way with questions. I recall on one occasion seeking to ask a supplementary question, getting up to my feet, calling on Mr Speaker, and being told “The member may not ask that question.” even before I had actually asked it. When I protested he said that the question was out of order.

I think that there are some things that he did that are worth preserving; there are some that are not. I am confident that you have the sense of judgement, the experience, and the wisdom to do extremely well. I congratulate you on your appointment.

So Mr Speaker-Elect, can I conclude by warmly congratulating you again, acknowledging the role of your predecessor, and looking forward to serving under you during the balance of this Parliament.

DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition)

Thank you, Mr Speaker-Elect, and I want to also congratulate you very warmly on behalf of the Labour Party and myself. We wish you all the very best in your role as Speaker.

It was a contested election, but we accept the will of the majority, as is the way in this Parliament, and we will work constructively with you to make sure that this Parliament and this House is able to go through the matters it needs to go through in the way that is befitting of both this House and what is expected of us from the people of New Zealand, as well.

So you certainly have my personal assurance on that, and we look forward to working with you.

Once again, our congratulations to you, David. All the very best. You have served here 18 years and that experience will, I am sure, serve you well as you take up this new position. All the very best.

METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green)

Congratulations, Mr Speaker-Elect, on your successful nomination as Speaker of this House.

And I expect it will be the same with you, Mr Speaker-Elect. We will not always agree on every issue, but it is the way in which those disagreements are played out and the discussions that we have that really speak to the way a Speaker can bring dignity, and a caucus and an MP can bring dignity to this House.

As you know, a major issue for the Greens has been ensuring that this Parliament becomes a genuinely accessible Parliament for all citizens in this country, and we look forward to working with you in the future, to embed the commitment of this Parliament to an accessible Parliament, to making sure all citizens have access to this Parliament, as members of the public, as members of Parliament, because this is, after all, the people’s place.

We look forward to working with you in the future, and we wish you the very best for this new part of your parliamentary career. Kia ora.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First)

Mr Speaker-Elect, this is not to add a discordant note, but it is fundamental in our parliamentary democracy that we carefully choose a Speaker. It is of great importance, and that is why this is a serious and significant event, not just here but around the country.

There is another aspect of the transition that cannot be overlooked. Given the importance of the role of the Speaker as being Parliament’s man or woman, we were deeply disappointed that the Government chose not to involve all political parties in any of the background considerations regarding the selection of a new Speaker.

We are committed to a well-organised and effective parliamentary process. We would have contributed constructively and thoughtfully to a dialogue around the selection of a new Speaker, which has been the long tradition of this Parliament. We want this House to work and to work well in the interest of our democracy, so it is in our view that it would have been consistent with the values and spirit of our democracy for the Government to engage with other parties over the appointment of a new Speaker.

This was not done, and there yet remains outstanding any explanation as to why it was done this way, or even to have a debate today on this very unprecedented selection process. It makes your job doubly difficult, and I am certain you are very much aware of that.

If the Government wanted cooperation, then it needs to understand that cooperation is a two-way street. The manner of this selection evinces arrogance and a poor understanding of the need to try to image political neutrality in this post.

We do not blame you for it, because the decision not to consult was not yours. In short, in our view it reflects poorly on the leadership of this Government.

So here we have an appointment that belies all the grandiose statements of aspiration, cooperation, and positivism, and this one act exposes them for being the shibboleths that in National’s mouth they have most regrettably become. I am not going to stand here today and make out that everything is fine and dandy, because it is not.

This is a very important appointment, and we do congratulate you on having succeeded, and we wish you the very, very best in what, because of the circumstances on your advent to this job, will be more and more difficult.

That said, we will give you a fair go and seek to cooperate with you in what will be, we hope, a successful transition. All the very best of British.

Hon TARIANA TURIA (Minister for Whanau Ora)

We want to congratulate the Hon David Carter as the Speaker-Elect to this House. One of the things that we have noted is that you have had an ability to build relationships because of your thoughtful and constructive manner.

I first came to know you, in fact, when I went with you on the Speaker’s tour to Europe with the Hon Doug Kidd. As a new member of Parliament at the time, I certainly appreciated the wonderful support that you and your wife gave to me and my husband and I have never forgotten that.

You have the assurance of the Māori Party that we will support you in your role.

Hon JOHN BANKS (Minister for Regulatory Reform)

I rise on behalf of the ACT party and the people of the Epsom electorate to congratulate you on your election to this high office. I am losing a benchmate and I am losing a next-door neighbour, the benchmate who sat beside me here for the last 12 months—you, Mr Speaker-Elect .

Thank you for all your sage advice and useful help. I was campaigning around the electorate when you first stood for Parliament.

I have had the privilege of being here when you gave your maiden speech, and I said to you before you were dragged out of the chair kicking and screaming this afternoon that this would be a day in your life that you will never forget.

What a high honour and what a great privilege you have been given.

I was here 10 Parliaments ago when that great Speaker Sir Richard Harrison was sitting in that Chair. We could tell he was in the Chair because of the wig he used. I am not sure whether you are going to be using that wig, Mr Speaker-Elect, or where it is at these days, but he was a fine Speaker from rural provincial New Zealand. What is it that they put in the milk of the cow farmers that makes such good Speakers—Sir Richard Harrison, Dr Lockwood Smith, and now yourself?

Mr Speaker-Elect, I wish you well for your next change in direction as Speaker. I am very hopeful that I will be in the 20th Parliament to see you back as Speaker at that time, or, at the very least, another fine New Zealander from rural provincial New Zealand.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South)

Mr Speaker-Elect, I want to join with the other members of Parliament who have congratulated you. The result, of course, was an expected result.

I read on the New Zealand Herald’s website that the Prime Minister thought—well, it indicated that the Prime Minister thought—that the vote was going to be at 3 o’clock. I tweeted, just to make sure that members knew, that it was at 2 o’clock to make sure that we had a fair result.

Mr Speaker-Elect, I look forward to working with you inside and outside Parliament.

I would join with Peter Dunne in indicating that people who have advised you to follow Dr Wall’s advice have been misleading you. If you want to go for a Canterbury Speaker, I would go for Kerry Burke. Kerry Burke was someone who knew how to play the advantage rule as a referee. I think he would be seen as a top test referee, whereas, I think, Dr Wall could well have been someone seen as a cricket umpire from Pakistan or somewhere like that, Mr Speaker-Elect.

He was one of ours, but I think it is fair to say that no one would accuse Dr Wall of being unbiased and fair. Mr Speaker-Elect, I look forward to working with you, as closely as you wish.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House)

Mr Speaker-Elect , I rise as Leader of the House to offer my congratulations to you on your election to this position today.

I think it is always important that you do have people who sit in the Chair who have the right sort of temperament, and a great feel for the way in which Parliament works.

Just 2 years into your political career you became a whip, and I know that you have taken a huge amount of interest in the processes of the House, and I am sure that you will have quite an instinctive feel for how the House needs to operate.

Given that we do operate under different Standing Orders these days, one of the things I would point to is the way in which the Business Committee now has, I think, a more meaningful role in the way in which the House decides how it will proceed.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent)

Mr Speaker-Elect, I rise as an Independent member and congratulate you. I would also like to thank you for confirming that you will uphold the dignity and respect of this Parliament.

Video of speeches from InTheHouse: