Hard work not enough, Bridges a link over muddly water

I wonder how many voters could name the leader of the Opposition? Simon Bridges has been leader of the national Party for a few months, but he is not making much of an impression, especially not a positive impression.

Newstalk ZB – The Soap Box: If Simon Bridges fails, at least he’s tried

That headline on it’s own has quite negative connotations.

You can say plenty of things about National’s leader Simon Bridges and plenty of people have. Of the aspirants for the party’s top job, Bridges was probably the least known but was considered shrewd.

His own biggest problem though is prominence. He’s not well known by the electorate, and with the last opinion poll putting him at nine per cent, he knows he has cause for worry.

So there was only one thing for it: to get his mug out to the masses.

By Saturday, he will have held 66 public meetings through the length and breadth of the country since May.

No one can argue that he’s work shy, even if a number of the meetings were at inconvenient times in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

While he’s been putting himself out there glad-handing, he’s also become a social media warrior, hitting all the platforms, some of the time telling us stuff that we don’t really need to know, like how good he is at changing nappies or how obsessive he is with the laundry.

Who has heard? Who cares?

But it’s away from Parliament that Bridges really needs to make his mark and if he can’t make it there, his 55 National colleagues will become restless.   But at least they won’t be able to say he hasn’t put in the hard yards.

Andrew Little put in some hard yards as Labour leader – like Bridges he toured the country meeting as many people as he could. I went to see him at a Dunedin promotion, and he looked lame. Most of his hard yards were limping down hill.

David Cunliffe worked hard as Labour leader, as did David Shearer, and Phil Goff before him. All failed to impress voters.

Bridges still has time to find out how to step up, but at the moment his yards are going in small circles, nowhere politically.

At the moment his best chance of success in 2020 is if the media and voters get over-babied and over-Arderned.

National still has a chance if the current Government continues to misfire and if it makes major mistakes, or if there is a financial crisis.

But Bridges is far from being a tower of strength. He looks more like a link over muddly water between national’s past and their future.

David Parker’s and Parliament’s reputations enhanced

Last week David Parker was under fire for alleged, with claims he had a ‘close personal relationship’ with property  developers given a Government exemption for overseas investment in a development at Te Arai.

Matthew Hooton said that Parker should stand down pending an inquiry, and made allegations that he later retracted and apologised for. A Facebook post and an NZ Herald article are no longer online.

On Thursday Hooton tweeted:

‘Entirely blameless’ is a major retraction.

Audrey Young writes:  David Parker emerges with reputation not just intact but enhanced

When things get really bad a fog can sit over the whole Government for weeks. Sometimes it results in a political scalp, sometimes it just damages the individual.

Rarely does it enhance the reputation of the minister involved. But in the case of the exemption for Te Arai development to the foreign-buyers ban, that is what has happened to David Parker.

The only other occasion in which a political reputation was clearly enhanced in the face of a ministerial crisis also involved David Parker, in 2006.

He shocked everyone including his own Prime Minister when he resigned as Attorney-General the day allegations were published in Investigate magazine over some historic filing of returns to the Companies Office.

Parker was reinstated to cabinet a few weeks later when evidence turned up at the Companies Office disproving the allegations. He returned a more honourable minister than when he resigned.

In the 10 days since the select committee recommended the controversial 15-year exemption for Te Arai development at Mangawhai, events have moved more slowly, but no less honourably.

And most of the stunning relevant revelations exonerating Parker occurred in House itself as National has put the heat on Parker.

National had legitimate questions for Parker about the background to an exemption for one development at Mangawhai involving settlement funding of two iwi – and Parker more than answered them, which he did so at length, and with reasoned and passionate argument.

It is National’s job to hold the Government and Ministers to account. In this case Parker responded and showed there was no cause for concern about his involvement.

What has emerged is that although the Treasury advised against any exemption for any development, it was done after Parker took a paper to cabinet and sought its approval.

Parker refused to listen to any private pleadings of any developer during the course of the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill banning foreign buyers from buying New Zealand houses.

He made it clear they should make to the committee.

When select committee members and cabinet colleague Shane Jones (at the behest of John Key) raised the potential injustice, Parker did the proper thing and took it to cabinet.

So Parker acted properly.

Disarmingly, Parker did not defend every aspect of what has occurred.

He conceded in the House it was fair enough that National question whether he and select committee should have looked into details about the level of the iwi involvement in the development before recommending the exemption.

As they haver a right to do this, and a responsibility to do this if they think that things warrant proper scrutiny. It was a proper use of Parliament. And Parker responded properly and showed that he had acted properly.

There are still things to be asked over the Te Arai development, but both Parker and Parliament have had their reputations enhanced over this.

Parker stands out as probably the Government’s most capable looking Minister.

Nine years of neglect

When National were in Government they kept harking  back to the previous Government, blaming Helen Clark and her ministers for nine years of doing some things different to how National might have done them.

Now Labour and Winston Peters are laying the ‘last nine years’ on rather thick, with Simon Bridges reinforcing the past time frame.

From Question time in Parliament today – Question No. 2—Prime Minister:

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he accept that more than 32,000 people have either gone on strike or have signalled they will go on strike this year and that this figure exceeds the number of people that went on strike in the last nine years?

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he disagree, as he said this morning, with the statement that more than 32,000 people have either gone on strike or have signalled they’ll go on strike this year and that this figure exceeds the number of people that went on strike in the last nine years?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I say that there are a number of negotiations going on, because this Government does not have a tin ear. We understand the conditions under which they have suffered after nine years of neglect where the whole intent of the Government was to govern for the few against the interests of the mass and the many.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The reality is that if, for example—to use an analogy—there is a so-called bus stop where no bus bothers to turn up, then it’s quite likely no one actually goes to the bus stop. But we run transport services and we listen. And so a whole lot of people out there say, “Maybe we should approach the new Government and get a fairer deal.”, and we are saying to them, “You will get a fair deal, but we can’t turn around nine years of neglect in the space of one Budget.”

Question No. 5—Finance:

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Actually, if we look at per-person growth since New Zealand exited the recession, it’s shrunk nearly a quarter of the time since the recession. So under the previous Government’s policies, it was actually going backwards. In this case, it’s not growing quite as fast as we would like, because it will take a little longer than one quarter of activity to correct the last nine years.

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Of course I agree with the Minister of Energy and Resources, who’s doing a fantastic job. From time to time in the economy, we have to deal with certain supply constraints. What I do know is that sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring issues like climate change isn’t going to deliver New Zealand a sustainable economy. We’re doing something about it after nine years of the previous Government doing nothing.

Question No. 6—Housing and Urban Development:

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Yes. After nine years of neglect, we can’t go from zero homes to 10,000 overnight, but we are making solid progress in increasing the capacity of the construction industry.

Question No. 8—Health:

That is the result of nine years of underfunding.

I hope we don’t get nine years of talking about the last nine years. It’s already stale and lame.

At least the Green ministers just get on with trying to do their jobs in however man years they get to do it. And David Seymour gets to go dancing.

Hard lefties oppose National cooperation on climate change

Jacinda Ardern has described climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment” (in a campaign speech in August 2017).

Simon Bridges won’t go that far. On Q+A yesterday

CORIN DANN So certainty. Is climate change the nuclear-free issue of your generation?

SIMON BRIDGES I would not go that far. Is it the most significant environmental issue? Is it an important long-term issue that we need to deal with and deal with seriously and provide certainty on? Yes.

Bridges was vague about where he actually stands on a number of climate issues, and is nowhere near as radical as the Greens, but National have signalled a willingness to work together with other parties – National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission.

But how genuine are they? Not at all according to some on the left.

MickySavage asked yesterday: Does National really want climate change to be a bipartisan issue?

His post concludes:

If this is what National and Simon Bridges is promising then all good and the Government can get on with things.  But if this is merely a replacement of outright denial with a more nuanced approach designed to delay urgent action being taken then he should rethink this.

Bridges has just been reported criticising National MPs expressing doubts about climate change.

Many comments at The Standard didn’t trust National and didn’t want them involved. Petty partisan politics is so ingrained some people can’t countenance cross-party cooperation.

Gabby: “Much easier to wreck things from the inside.”

Robert Guyton: “National’s funders will say, nah.”

Jess: “Bi-partisan means two parties. National wants to regress to Nat vs Labour with Nat as the bigger party, instead of a coalition. Or if they really see Govt and opposition as two parties, their perspective is going to be no help whatsoever (no surprise there).”

Kat: “Agree with you Jess in that National just want to maneuver into a position of taking out the coalition in 2020 by appearing to be genuine about serious issues.”

marty mars: “Simon is insincere imo. The gnats don’t care. Last throw of the die in many ways.”

Stuart Munro: “Trying make a wedge to peel off a few blueish Green voters.”

Jenny: “Feeling the ground shifting under them, National’s corporate sponsors desperately need a bipartisan consensus to do nothing meaningful about climate change.”

Draco T Bastard: “Translation: He wants Labour and the Greens to compromise and accept National’s position. And National will not budge from its position.”

What I think DTB really means is that he doesn’t want Greens to budge from their position – ignoring the reality of an MMP Parliament that requires agreement (and compromise) from at least three parties.

I joined in and said: This is the best opportunity ever for cross party cooperation on dealing with a major issue facing New Zealand and the world. Getting pissy about shunning parties because they don’t measure up to ideals (non of them do) is a bit pathetic given what is at stake.

Robert Guyton:

“Moving towards doing something”
Shuffling their feet so they aren’t considered dead.
That’s all.

I queried Robert: What approach do you think is best Robert – MMP democracy, or petty partisan politics? Greens will get closest to what they want if they’re prepared to work hard with all other parties in Parliament to get the best out of all of them – kinda like the James Shaw approach.”

Robert:

James is handling this issue beautifully, in the way a snake-handler manipulates vipers. Still vipers though.

This was Shaw’s response to National’s announcement they would work with other parties ion climate change:

Fortunately commenters on left wing blogs don’t run things in Parliament, but as Eugenie Sage found out, they can kick up a stink when Ministers follow laws and procedures and allow something activists don’t like.

Wayne Mapp also joined in:

Thank goodness the commenters here are not actually in govt. Most of you would not talk to National on anything (except for terms of surrender).

In reality in a range of issues governments and oppositions co-operate. For instance on national super, various environmental issues, a number of national security isssues there is dialogue and adjustment to get a bipartisan (sometimes multi partisan) consensus.

In fact John Key’s initiative in Opposition was to do the anti-smacking deal with Labour.

But hard lefties seem to hate dealing at all with the political ‘enemy’. In response:

Stuart Munro: “Well you’re a pack of lying assholes.”

One Anonymous Bloke: Here’s a radical idea to improve your public image: stop lying and killing people.

Fortunately people like that are nowhere near real political decision making, all they have is futile vitriol in social media.

This morning on RNZ:

Q&A – Bridges on cross party climate change cooperation

This morning on Q&A: National says it wants to work with the Government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. What does that really mean? National leader Simon Bridges will be with us live.

This could be interesting.

One National’s decision:National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

One of the more ridiculous comments in response:

Climate change is a fraud, perpetrated on us by troughing and corrupt scientists. Not a single prediction, model or claim about the catastrophe that awaits us if we do nothing has ever come true, nor is it ever likely to. We are hobbling our economy by pandering to this nonsense.

https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2018/06/why-simon-no-one-cares-except-liberal-elites/

Apart from stupid that is either very ignorant or deliberate bull pandering to an ignorant audience.


Overall impression is that this is a one of Bridges’ better interviews. I think he and his PR team have been doing some work to improve his public performances – they have plenty of time to prepare for QA interviews.

He was knowledgeable – and there was even signs of some passion. Perhaps he can grow into the job.

As well as climate change a lot of the interview was spent on prisons and crime – this was to Bridges’ advantage because it is something he is very familiar with – he was a lawyer and crown prosecutor before getting into politics.

On the panel, on climate change, Peter Dunne says that National had no choice to engage on climate change in Parliament.

Fran O’Sullivan says she was quite disappointed that Bridges failed to say clearly what he supported on irrigation and stocking levels – but Dunne disagrees, saying that putting bottom lines out there at this stage is not a good idea.

As soon as I saw that panel i thought of The Standard.

National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

National have had a rethinks and have done a bit of a u-turn, now saying the support having a Climate  Commission. This makes strong cross party support for addressing climate issues.

The Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement supports a Climate Commission:

  • Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The number one point in the Labour Green Confidence and Supply agreement was setting up a Commission:

Sustainable Economy

1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050, with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form, energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission

b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.

c. A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.

d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

In a step towards that in April Green co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced an Interim Climate Change Committee:

The Minister for Climate Change today announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

“We need work to start now on how things like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), and we need planning now for the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035,” says James Shaw.

“The Interim Climate Change Committee will begin this important work until we have set up the independent Climate Change Commission under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

“The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the Climate Change Commission,” Mr Shaw said.

“If we want to help lead the world towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must create a moral mandate underpinned by decisive action at home to reduce our own emissions.

“Setting up the Interim Climate Change Committee is a great step in that direction,” says James Shaw.

Last week Shaw announced Zero Carbon Bill Consultation Launch.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges tweeted:

Bridges spoke on this – Speech to Fieldays on climate change

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

Today I have written to the Prime Minister and James Shaw, offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission.

I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bi-partisan progress on climate change.

The Climate Change Commission would support New Zealand’s emission reductions by both advising the Government on carbon budgets, and holding the Government to account by publishing progress reports on emissions.

The Commission would be advisory only, with the Government of the day taking final decisions on both targets and policy responses.

There are a number of details I want to work through with the Government before the Commission is launched – such as ensuring the Commission has appropriate consideration for economic impacts as well as environmental, and that the process for appointments to the Commission is also bipartisan.

But I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

This is a significant and a good move by Bridges and National.

With all the multi-MP parties working together positively on climate change issues New Zealand should make good progress on addressing climate change issues.

Dan Bidois on his Northcote win

New MP Dan Bidois has a lot to learn now he has won the Northcote by-election. He will have that chance on the National back bench for at least two years.

Simon Bridges says he will give Bidois some minor responsibilities – his biggest task initially will be coming to grips with being an electorate MP and setting himself up in Northcote.

1 News interviewed Bidois before his win: ‘I have been a fighter my entire life’ – New Zealand’s newest MP Dan Bidois takes out Northcote by-election

“I have been a fighter my entire life. I dropped out of school at 15, found out I had cancer and beat it, completed my butchery apprenticeship, eventually getting mentored to go to University and falling in love with education. Ultimately I went on to win a scholarship and complete my Masters at Harvard.”

“I have had to fight for everything I have achieved in life, and so I want to bring that determination to Northcote and fight for the things that matter locally – improving transport, stopping the fuel tax increases, and getting more investment in local services like health and education.”

He said prior to his victory when asked what issues he would pursue in Parliament, that he was “passionate about education and making sure we’re getting more kids learning good trades. I would like to see more done around apprenticeships”.

The economy has been doing well the last few years, which has lifted incomes and meant the Government can afford to invest more in public services, but we can’t take it for granted. The new Labour-NZ First Government is making a range of changes that will slow that growth down, which is really bad for families. We can’t take good economic management for granted.

There is currently no scheduled vote on abortion or cannabis, but I haven’t seen evidence the current systems aren’t working properly. I would want to study the issues more before I made a decision on these two.

I haven’t read the proposed euthanasia legislation yet. I do have some concerns around it though, in that we have to make sure that there appropriate safeguards so our sick and elderly aren’t abused.

Sounds like he has been well indoctrinated with standard National responses in preparation for the by-election.

Time will tell whether he fights for his own voice and his own views.

 

Looking back at Northcote party polling

Claims were made by Labour, and National in response, about ‘party polling’ leading into the voting period for the Northcote by-election.

NZH: Simon Wilson’s Northcote Notebook: Labour closes gap in Northcote byelection

Labour Party polling for the Northcote byelection puts candidate Shanan Halbert just 2.1% behind National’s Dan Bidois. Sources close to the party confirmed that, in a poll conducted last week, Halbert was preferred by 46.3 per cent of those asked, and Bidois by 48.4 per cent.

That’s a change from a poll conducted by Labour in early May, which had Bidois leading Halbert by a more comfortable margin, 50.8 per cent vs 44.4 per cent.

National Party sources dispute these numbers. They say their polling shows a gap of about 8 per cent.

In the days before election day Labour candidate Shanan Halbert and leader Jacinda Ardern both said the election would go ‘down to the wire’. as did a party press release: It’s down to the wire in Northcote by-election

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern and Northcote Labour candidate Shanan Halbert campaigned together today in Northcote, emphasising how important it was that people get out and vote for a strong local voice before 7 pm Saturday.

Shanan said “It was a pleasure hosting Jacinda in the Northcote shops today. We spent time encouraging locals to ensure their voice is heard by joining the thousands of others who have already voted in the by-election.”

“We know from the polling that this race is down to the wire. If everyone who voted for me in the 2017 General Election votes for me again in this by-election, Northcote will have a strong local voice in Government come June 10th.”

if everyone who voted for the National candidate in the general election voted National again Halbert wouldn’t have a chance.

It’s normal for parties to talk up their chances going in to an election, but quoting party polls without giving any details should be viewed with scepticism.

Halbert was running against a nine year MP and Cabinet Minister in the general election, while he was up against a virtual unknown from out of the electorate in the by-election.

Election night results for the National and Labour candidates in the Northcote by-election:

  • Dan Bidois (National) 10,147 – 50.98% (general election 52.27%)
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) 8,785 – 44.14% (general election 35.25%)

Election night majority 1,362 – difference 6.84%.

So that is nowhere near the 2% claimed by Labour. It is quite close to what National claimed.

There could be a number of explanations, like – Labour support faded late in the campaign. or more Labour supporters didn’t get out and vote.

It could also be that Labour bullshitted about their polling to try to talk up a close contest.

Or Labour’s polling is crap.

For all we know Labour’s poll asked something like “Will you vote for the local candidate SHANAN HALBERT, or the unknown out of electorate candidate with a foreign sounding name?”

Or the polling was done by Labour’s door knockers.

Whatever the reason it emphasises that caution should be taken about any polls – they are an approximate measure in the past, not a prediction of the future despite what media try to say.

And one-off party polling claimed during an election campaign, with no details given and no history of polls showing trends, should not be promoted by media as news, and should not be taken to seriously.

 

Greens scoff at National+Green option.

In their latest poll Newshub did the usual pointless prediction of possible governing numbers (an election has never been decided on a media poll):

These two alternatives presume two major things:

  • That NZ First will not make the threshold – predicting the political demise of NZF and Winston Peters has been proven wrong many times over the years.
  • That Greens would consider a coalition with National over Labour.

It was made very clear during the last term, and especially during coalition negotiations last year, that Greens did not see National as an option for them.

Greens have virtually said that unless National adopts all the Green Party policies then they won’t consider any political alliance (this is ironic given the number of compromises Greens have made with Labour and especially with NZ First, but that’s another story).

This was reiterated by Green party member Matthew Whitehead at The Standard in Pollwatch: Reid Research, 27/05/2018

There is zero chance, despite what Newshub implies, that the Greens will even look at today’s National Party as a valid coalition partner. You would need 75% of Green delegates at our AGM to agree to even consider a coalition deal from them, and the perception that we could do so tends to hurt us in polling. Implying such a deal would even be considered is pretty mischievious.

John Hart, who was 12 on the Green list for 2017 and was expected to become an MP until the Green’s crashed a month before the election, tweeted:

@farmgeek So ACT isn’t included in the Labour/Greens numbers because that would be ridiculous right? And yet lumping Greens in with National…

@StewartLundNZ I think the point was to show that without the Greens, National has no shot at getting back in. But labour would only need the Greens – no need for Act’s seat

@farmgeek That’s cool, but I’d prefer they stick with reality-based scenarios.

@MJWhitehead  Yeah, the correct thing to do here would just be to show NACT at 59 because that coalition ain’t happening with National looking anything like it does today.

@ConanMcKegg Really trying to push that Blue Greens narrative still. I’d have thought that would have died by now.

Gahhhhhhhhh — what part of the Greens will never ever be in govt with National do media not get !? P o l i c y s – light years apart.

I haven’t seen anyone in Greens suggest that going with national in any way was a possibility. They look fully committed to Labour or bust.

Interestingly I can see no poll reaction from @NZGreens, jamespeshaw or @maramadavidson – actually they have been veryu quiet on everything over the weekend.

But that won’t change the apparent impossibility of a National+Green option.

Interjection ban on National dog barker, and crappy “stupid little girl” cop out

Parliament’s question time can be raucous, with some members barking at every passing Minister. National MP David Bennett annoyed the Speaker enough today to earn a two day ban on interjecting.

In Question No. 9—Children:

Darroch Ball: What is the Minister doing to ensure that children get the best services that they need?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Excuse me, Mr Speaker. I forgot that we had one other question coming, perhaps. On behalf of the Minister for Children today, Oranga Tamariki are holding the first of 14 regional hui with their 525 providers to talk about how they will work together in the future to ensure that all services meet the best needs of the child. Collectively, they receive around $268 million from Oranga Tamariki per year. The ministry is trying to give them greater certainty around their funding and is moving to longer-term contracts—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume her seat. David Bennett will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: I withdraw and apologise.

In Question No. 11—Social Development:

11. ANGIE WARREN-CLARK (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made regarding the Growing Up in New Zealand study?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Mr Speaker—

Hon David Bennett: Oh, has she got her notes this time? Good on her!

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Today, I announced that the Government would restore more than $1.9 million—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat. Now, Mr Bennett, your interjections are very, very frequent. Referring to members using notes in the House to answer questions is an area which is totally my responsibility and not for you to comment on. I would like to remind the member that several of his colleagues rely heavily on notes, not to answer questions, which is quite a lot harder, but even to ask them.

In Question No. 12—Employment:

Hon WILLIE JACKSON (Minister of Employment): Thank you, Mr Speaker. In response to the first part of the question, of course I stand by my statements. As for the second part, the policy response for job seekers remains the responsibility of the Minister for Social Development.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does he stand by his statement that “people have commitments,” as reasons that unemployed New Zealanders cannot pick fruit, and, if so, how many commitments does an individual need to not have to show up to work?

Hon David Bennett: How many commitments have you got?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Of course I stand by—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! David Bennett, once again you have interjected, involving me in the answer, and what we’re going to do is have you on an interjection ban for the rest of this question time and tomorrow. [Interruption] Order!

Overyapping in Parliament is unlikely to do the opposition any good, Putting a muzzle on Bennett for a couple of days will be better for the House.

Also under scrutiny is an as yet unidentified National MP – Newshub investigates: Which National MP made a ‘very sexist remark’ about Jacinda Ardern?

In Parliament last week, while the Prime Minister was speaking, a National Party MP hurled a “very sexist remark” across the Chamber.

He – and yes, Newshub can confirm the remark was made by a man – called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a “stupid little girl.”

As soon as the comment was made, Speaker Trevor Mallard stopped proceedings in the House, calling for the person who made the “very sexist remark” to apologise.

A week later, the culprit still hasn’t owned up to the remark. If they ever do, they will have to stand in Parliament, withdraw the remark and apologise.

At the time the comment was made, Mr Mallard said the remark wasn’t made by Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges; “It was someone behind.”

Behind Mr Bridges sits Matt Doocey, Jonathan Young, Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith.

Other men in close proximity are Simon O’Connor, David Bennett, Jami-Lee Ross, Chris Finlayson, David Carter and Paul Goldsmith.

So with the culprit not big enough to own up all these MPs have a cloud hanging over them.

Newshub asked nine of the 10 male MPs who sit behind Mr Bridges whether they made the remark and whether they know who made it. The tenth has been contacted.

The nine MPs are named and all deny making the statement. The tenth must be Simon O’Connor.

Regardless of who it was this looks terrible for National.

Mr Bridges said he’d have to review footage before deciding what would happen to an MP who made such a remark – though he said these sorts of remarks are heat of the moment.

“Parliament’s a place of cut and thrust. People say things in the heat of moment, on all sides of the House, including, let’s be honest, the Speaker,” Mr Bridges said.

That’s a crappy cop out from Bridges. A decent modern leader would have made sure the culprit stood up in Parliament and made a damned good apology.

Without that National look like a pack of mongrel MPs who have no idea how to build respect in opposition.