A United States parliament?

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US Parliamentary Pie:

USParliamentPie

Labour mis-using taxpayer money?

First a word of caution. This apparent bust comes from the Taxpayers’ Union, who say they are funded and run independently but those involved in running it have close links to National.

They have put out a media release today claiming that Labour appear to be running the campaign for Labour mayoral candidate in Wellington out of their Parliamentary offices. Non-parliamentary activities and electioneering are forbidden uses of parliamentary funded resources.

The Taxpayer’s Union say they have been leaked this email:

LabourStafferMayoraltyEmail

That suggests that “we” from the Labour’s Party Whips office have produced a campaign video for “our Labour candidate for the Wellington Mayoralty”. It is a least a bad look, and it may breach Parliaments rules.

Labour were warned about misuse of Parliamentary resources earlier this year. The Taxpayers’ Union was also involved there. From Speaker’s Warning To Labour Over Parliamentary Funds:

Some weeks ago Labour sent an email in the name of Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened a Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

The email also called on “like-minded partners” to share office space and other facility resources.

It appears that Andrew Little and his MPs are pooling together taxpayer resources to open a campaign office in central Auckland for the Party and Phil Goff’s campaign for the Auckland mayoralty. Use of taxpayer resources in this way is clearly against the rules.

The Speaker has confirmed that the Parliamentary Service will be monitoring Mr Little’s spending and has written to him setting out the rules for taxpayer funded out-of-Parliament offices.

The letter from the Speaker to Labour begins:

Speaker2Labour1

And concludes:

Speaker2Labour2

That is a very clear warning to Andrew Little. Labour should be well aware of these rules anyway.

MPs campaigning for local body office while paid for by taxpayers is suspect, although it has both potential benefits and disadvantages.

Not surprisingly David Farrar has also posted on this, fairly carefully, at Kiwiblog: Lester’s campaign being run from Parliament?  Farrar is heavily involved with the Taxpayers’ Union.

But regardless of the source this does look quite dodgy from Labour, especially after already being warned by the Speaker.

Given there past actions I presume the Taxpayers’ Union will advise the Speaker about this, but don’t expect significant repercussions – that’s why parties keep flouting Parliamentary rules, because they think they can keep getting away with it.

But this is not just flouting Parliamentary rules. It is flouting democracy, giving some candidates an unfair advantage over others.

Now I don’t know if this refers to the same Lester campaign video:

Wellington mayoral candidates get creative and cringeworthy with online campaign videos

Wellington’s mayoral candidates have taken to social media, releasing online campaign videos to sell their message to voters.

Labour candidate and current deputy mayor Justin Lester takes an active approach attending various community events and has citizens endorse him. Robinson says Justin ticks nearly every box with his video.

“He shows that he is embedded in communities, in a variety of communities and people trust him and people endorse him. While people are talking about him he’s actively engaged in a whole variety of environments.

“You can’t fault this video I would have to say in my 17 years of campaign video watching this is the best campaign video any NZ candidate has ever produced.”

Claire Robinson believes anybody running in an election should follow the lead of Wellington’s candidates and campaigns will continue to evolve with technology.

I don’t know what Robinson would think if Parliamentary resources were used to make the video.

A recess challenge for Labour

MPs of all parties have given themselves a longer than usual mid-winter recess of four weeks. Lucky them (but MPs make their own luck when they can).

Tracey Watkins makes a challenge to Labour for the recess period – get tough, or it will look like they have given up on next year’s election already.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Here’s a challenge to Labour. If it wants to show it’s serious about winning the next election, its MPs should use the upcoming four week recess to catch their opponents napping.

If Labour MPs disappear over that period instead we’ll know they’ve already given up on a win in 2017.

There’s already signs that Labour MPs are going through the motions most of the time, with Phil Twyford a rare exception. Even Andrew Little’s barking at passing cars seems to be losing it’s bite.

Next month’s lengthy recess is the talk of Parliament. No one can remember a mid-year break quite this long before. It starts July 8 and carries right through to August 9, when MPs return to Parliament.

The word is that members of Parliament’s business committee – which comprises every party – all agreed on the lengthy break because it would help MPs recharge their batteries.

Some of them would need a wind farm much larger than Parliament to recharge their batteries.

But did the Opposition get the wool pulled over its eyes?

Because Oppositions tend to lose momentum when Parliament goes into recess. And mid-year through a Government’s third term is often when that momentum starts to build.

In fact Ministers and especially the Prime Minister will have to keep working to an extent at least. I month is too long to be opff the job mid-year. The recess will be more for back benchers and Opposition MPs, which will allow Ministers to chug away without being hassled.

As the normally affable minister looks increasingly strained and tight-lipped you can already see the drawbridge going up.

That’s a classic sign of third term-itis but National has dug itself out of these holes before by methods which are now well practiced. It burns the midnight oil, it wheels out policies and speeches, it reheats old news, anything to seize back the initiative. It’s the rugby team that runs on to the field determined to dominate on offence.

But there is a four week recess coming up. Beehive staff will have planned a break. Some of the key ministers will likely be overseas.

Potentially, it’s a political vacuum. A hungry Opposition would try to fill it.

So will it?

Twyford may keep banging away on phantom house doors and Little may do a little barking, and the Greens may take turns at churning out their PR, but will any MPs do some hard yards to put pressure on the Government?

Or better, show some leadership potential and come up with some positive actions or policies. Drive and initiative may get some media attention in a vacuum.

It’s about time that James Shaw stepped up and started living up to the hype that preceded him becoming Greens new co-leader last year.

It will be particularly interesting to see how Winston Peters treats the recess. It’s been a big term for him so far and he has looked jaded in Parliament.

Will he disappear for some rest, or will he do a tour of the country’s rest homes charming some ‘mature’ votes.

Most voters will probably be happy to see and hear less of politics and politicians anyway.

An MP that works out how to use the recess to interest the masses could do well for themselves and their party. But banging on the bashwagon turns voters off big time.

Will anyone step up and look like a positive prospective leader? That’s something that is sadly lacking across our modern politics.

UPDATE: I’ve just realised I drifted off the topic – a recess challenge for Labour. Perhaps I’ve given up on them as well as them having given up unless a resurrection lands in their laps.

Why MPs behave poorly in Parliament

One of the primary reasons why MPs behave poorly in Parliament is because political journalists feed the frenzy by giving the worst of parliament the most attention.

Claire Trevett illustrates this in Pokes and jokes hit and miss but Winston Peters still the master.

Peters may be the master of attention seeking but that doesn’t make it a healthy environment for democracy.

On Key:

To celebrate the occasion and the rare display of Black Caps sledging Australians, Key dedicated much of his speech at the start of Parliament to sledging his own opponents.

On Little:

Little was not bereft of comebacks. He welcomed back Michael Woodhouse – the overseer of health and safety reforms which listed worm farms as dangerous: “I am pleased that we have got through a summer with not a single worm farmer suffering a fatality or serious accident.”

He congratulated newly restored minister Judith Collins for making such a difference in such a short time, noting New Zealand had slipped two places in the corruption index in the two months she had been back.

On Shaw:

But then came poor old James Shaw, the newly minted Green Party co-leader. His caucus was not so well trained at laughing as National and Labour.

His valiant efforts met with a wall of silence.

The circus only rewards clowns.

Nobody was quite sure what he was banging on about, but happily the novice was followed by the master: NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Peters took his usual scatter gun approach to his targets, depending who heckled him.

The sensible leadership over Waitangi events has disappeared in Parliament.

Finally Seymour set about insisting closure of a charter school in Whangaruru was proof the schools worked.

It was all as incomprehensible as circling the desert of the real.

The most respectful and sensible speaker didn’t rate a mention – Peter Dunne. He began by paying a tribute to the late Rt Hon Bob Tizard. He acknowledged Annette King respectfully. And he closed with a welcome back to all members, with a special mention to new MP Maureen Pugh.

But that sort of thing doesn’t rate a mention. We have headline driven political coverage, which grotesquely distorts our democracy.

WHOOPS: And I forgot to mention Te Ururoa Flavell, who flies under the media radar because he’s one of the best behaved and respectful MPs in Parliament.

Straddling the political divide

Some see politics as a big division between one thing or another but in reality there’s far more fairly common ground than there are extreme differences.

But today the ODT chose to call their editorial Straddling the political divide, looking ahead to the year in Parliament kicking off. However i think what they are referring to is more of a divide between what the public would like to see of their Members of Parliament and how those MPs present themselves in Parliament.

Parliament resumes tomorrow with the Prime Minister’s statement taking precedence over other business.

While official business takes centre stage tomorrow, the political year started earlier with the State of the Nation speeches by political leaders.

Mr Key can take all the time he needs as his statement has no limit in length. The debate in reply has a limit of 14 hours but the Government can, if it chooses, and it probably will, adjourn the debate and get on with other business. The year needs to start strongly.

The debate in reply begins with the Leader of the Opposition moving a no-confidence vote in the Government and moves on from there into the Opposition parties trying to score some political points against the Government in general and Mr Key in particular.

Mr Key has been untouchable for seven years and will point to the achievements of his Government as he outlines parliamentary priorities for the year ahead. In the past, Mr Key has deviated from his set speech to get a march on the Opposition, which has an advance copy of his address.

Tomorrow can really be the time for Mr Key to put aside the political agenda of trying to make his opponents look silly and provide some uplifting goals to which he aspires.

The Opposition can use their time to avoid making personal attacks and focus on providing some alternatives to what it sees as damaging policies.

All of this seems sadly unlikely and New Zealanders will again be left frustrated on the sides of the political divide.

As I said at the start, I think one of biggest divides in New Zealand politics is  not left versus right (the main parties are often called National Lite and Labour Lite) but a divide between how our Members of Parliament behave in Parliament and how the public would like them to behave.

Robust debate with opponents and challenging policies are very important aspects of a democracy.

But far too often our politicians resort to petty attacking and opposing for the sake of opposing rather than based on common sense.

The tone of our politics and of Parliament must be set from the top, by the party leaders. When did we last have a leader who led by example?

John Key has been a very successful leader but I don’t think he has yet been a great leader. He often tries to be a person of the people, quite successfully going by the polls but that’s probably as much to do with a lack of strong opponents.

Andrew Little is yet to step up as a credible leader.

The party leader I’ve been most impressed with over the annual Waitangi debacle is Winston Peters, who spoke honestly about the core of the problems. Perhaps the wily old campaigner can rise above his usually futile game playing and end his career on a respectable high.

Is Key capable of providing ‘some uplifting goals”?

Or will he continue to massage the masses with meanderings, policy-wise?

Likeable (to half the population) but with modest achievements who eventual fades away? Or can he become a leader of our times? If he aspires to the latter he will need to do more than just wave a flag.

Can Key find a way of straddling the divide between successful politician and aspirational leader? Does he want to?

Euthanasia submissions due 1 February

Today’s Herald on Sunday editorial focusses on Lecretia Seales and euthanasia, and it points out that Health select committee public submissions on euthanasia close in a week.

New Zealanders have just a week left to voice their opinions on voluntary euthanasia and whether it should be considered under law.

It is not an easy subject. The very term we use to understand the process is altered – and sometimes manipulated – to serve a purpose. Euthanasia, assisted dying, suicide.

It is one of the most difficult questions of our age but one that needs to be asked and considered.

Public feedback to Parliament’s health select committee closes on February 1. In a little over a week, the chance to have a say will be gone.

Regardless of the opinion – or the outcome – it would be to our shame to choose not to contribute to that debate.

 Herald on Sunday

It is a difficult and important issue, covering an individual’s right to choose how they may end their life versus protection of vulnerable people.

The Herald shows how out of date they can be by not providing links to the submission page.

The Parliament website for the Health Committee isn’t helpful either. Business before the Health Committee doesn’t mention it, and if I follow it’s Submissions link I get:

Server Error

Oops – there has been an error. This error has been automatically emailed to our website team and we will endeavour to fix it as soon as possible.

But there is a page:

Petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others

Public submissions are now being invited on the Petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others.

The closing date for submissions is Monday, 1 February 2016

The Health Select Committee has received a petition requesting “That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.” The petition asks for a change to existing law. Therefore the committee will undertake an investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand. In order to fully understand public attitudes the committee will consider all the various aspects of the issue, including the social, legal, medical, cultural, financial, ethical, and philosophical implications. The Committee will investigate: 1. The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life. 2. The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives. 3. The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation. 4. International experiences. The committee will seek to hear from all interested groups and individuals.

The committee requires 2 copies of each submission if made in writing. Those wishing to include any information of a private or personal nature in a submission should first discuss this with the clerk of the committee, as submissions are usually released to the public by the committee. Those wishing to appear before the committee to speak to their submissions should state this clearly and provide a daytime telephone contact number. To assist with administration please supply your postcode and an email address if you have one.

Further guidance on making a submission can be found from the Making a Submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee link in the `Related documents´ panel.

There’s a much more helpful site – Lecretia’s Choice

 

The Health Select Committee is taking public submissions on assisted dying and suicide.  They want to hear from New Zealanders about their beliefs and concerns about end of life choices.  It is your chance to tell our politicians how you feel about end of life care and the choices you want to have.

The Parliament website has a helpful guide that explains the Select Committee Process (PDF) and how it affects Parliamentary decision-making. They also have a longer guide on how to make a submission, the key points of which are covered at the end of this page.

The original petition was “That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.”

We are not happy with the terms of reference created by the Health Select Committee in response to this, as they imply that someone seeking assisted dying wants to die, which couldn’t be further from the truth. They have also brought the issue of suicide into scope, even though this wasn’t part of the request of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society petition. However it is not possible for the terms to be changed at this point, so it is not worth debating this as part of your submission. It is best to focus on the terms as written. The terms of reference are:

      • The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life.
      • The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives.
      • The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation.
      • International experiences.

The Committee intends to consider “all the various aspects of the issue, including the social, legal medical, cultural, financial, ethical and philosophical implications.”

More details at:

Lecretia’s Choice

Crush the Speaker?

Parliament has been degenerating into a bigger shambles than usual with long simmering Opposition disgruntlement threatening to boil over.

The Speaker has been under increased criticism. It’s an unenviable position, with David Carter struggling to keep the House under control.

He’s not the strongest of Speakers but he is also bearing the brunt of Opposition parties failing to make much impact.

Rather than up their own performances a few Opposition MPs would appear to be keen on crushing the Speaker.

Rather than look at their own incompetence they have increasingly taken to blaming the referee.

In MPs playing for yellow card Stacey Kirk suggests Carter may be moved on soon anyway…

But then what more exacting cue for an exit stage-left, with speculation pointing to a plum diplomatic posting for him – perhaps London or Ottawa – at the next Government reshuffle

…and explores the alternatives.

Maurice Williamson

Ask around Parliament and many would say Maurice Williamson would be a sound, and potentially hilarious, choice as Carter’s successor (which is likely why John Key won’t pick him).

A position best served to a senior politician on a downward trajectory – Williamson ticks that box.

Most importantly, his appointment could bring a return to what opposition MPs deem fundamental to Question Time: Ministers may actually be expected to answer questions.

A change of Opposition attitude and asking better questions might also help.

Gerry Brownlee

Perhaps it’s for that very reason Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee appears to be the front-runner, raising fears about what that might mean for political journalists.

He displays an obvious and growing disdain for the Press Gallery, overheard once lamenting how “bloody young” they are, and is a regular complainer about their actions in the corridors of power.

The Speaker’s job is to facilitate debate inb the house though. It’s the MPs job to feed the journalists with stories.

Other names murmured as outside chances include Anne Tolley and Jonathan Coleman. Both seem unlikely.

Anne Tolley

Tolley is determined to oversee massive reform of Child, Youth and Family, which has barely begun.

Jonathan Coleman

Coleman is hardly in the twilight of his career.

In fact, his name has also been thrown in conversations discussing the next Minister for Foreign Affairs. That at least makes more sense than Speaker, him already having proven himself in the understudy role of Defence Minister.

But the doctor appears to have hit his stride in Health and, while ambitious, Foreign Affairs is a tough ask for anyone with a young family.

Any other candidates for a new Speaker?

What about Judith Collins? In practical term she is probably in the twilight of her career, although I don’t know if she’s ready to accept that yet or not.

Crush the Speaker?

Leader should lead the damage repair in Parliament

Key stirred up some major indignation and offence with his remarks in Parliament in Tuesday. This blew up further yesterday when Key refused to withdraw and apologise his accusations that Opposition MPs sided with rapists.

It should be remembered that it is Key who was being criticised and attacked for not doing enough on the detained New Zealand citizens in Australia – but there weas little he could do about Australian measures to deport ex-criminals.

Kelvin Davis provoked Key – very inappropriately – by confronting him in the halls of Parliament and calling him gutless.

The Opposition is to an extent responsible for what transpired in Parliament.

I think Key went too far with his comments – they were designed to hit back politically, hard, but he may not have considered that the consequences of accusing MPs who (it turns out) have been sexually assaulted of siding with rapists was going to be very emotive.

Key was justified in hitting back against over-emotive attacks but deliberately or not he made a serious mistake in the manner of his response in Parliament.

I think that Key has a responsibility to front up on this and acknowledge he has caused undue hurt with his comments. I think he should apologise in part.

But he still has a right to rephrase his counter to the provocation of Davis and other Opposition MPs on the Austrlaian detainees.

Key may believe he has major public support for his stance on the detainees. But in stirring up serious angst on rape issues he should recognise how deep this will hurt many people, and I think he should deal with it appropriately and with care.

This has become a major mess in Parliament. Key is far from the only one responsible for the whole furore but in situations like this leaders should lead, and the leader of the country should lead the repairing of the significant damage that’s been done.

Shaw hits back, continued disorder threatened

In a speech in Parliament yesterday Green co-leader James Shaw has hit back at John Key and the Government and National after Key’s remarks in Parliament about opposition MPs supporting rapists and murderers and ‘child molesterers’.

He said that Key ” lacks leadershipand his comments were “completely unparliamentary”, and until Key withdraws his comments “this House will continue to see a high level of disorder”.

He also said that “the members of the Opposition now have no confidence in the procedures of this House and no confidence in the Chair” (the Speaker)  and “you have to accept that because of the nature of those rulings that we are going to see continued disorder”.

Shaw got into tricky legal territory in turning the focus on Key’s and National’s embarrassing secret – this is currently subject to court ordered suppression so some details are edited and PLEASE TAKE CARE IF COMMENTING.

JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): The last couple of days have been a very sad time in this Parliament. Given that the last speaker, the Hon Hekia Parata, spoke about the quality of leadership provided by our Prime Minister and some of the statements that he has chosen to stand by, to not resile from, and to not apologise for, I am just going to read out a few other quotes of his that I think he may want to stand by in the future as well: “He made a very significant contribution to our caucus.” “He’s a loss in terms of the contribution I’ve seen him make as a politician.” “I’m very happy for him to continue in the position that he does.” “He is a fully functioning member of the caucus.” Those are in relation to [Edit – identification of person]. So when we stand accused of backing rapists and murderers we take great offence.

Alfred Ngaro: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Those comments—that current issue is actually before the courts and so I would like to take a point of order about it being sub judice.

Mr SPEAKER: I think on this occasion those remarks are OK within the general debate. I will listen more carefully. If there is any reference to a matter that is before the courts, that would of course be out of order. At this stage the speech is in order and it can continue.

JAMES SHAW: So when we stand accused of backing rapists and murderers and paedophiles, I say that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. The quality of leadership—so-called—that has been provided by our—

Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to draw your attention to the fact that in the member’s speech he spoke about [Edit – identification of person] and then immediately started talking about rapists and drawing the Prime Minister into the debate. I do not know whether that is appropriate. I do not think it is because he is trying to link the two together.

Tracey Martin: Speaking to the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, I do not need assistance from the member. It is a dangerous territory that we are in. At this stage I have ruled that the speech can continue. If it moves to an area that is before the courts, then I would cease the speech immediately, because I am very conscious that Parliament has the responsibility that the judiciary has. In future if any members wish to get close to this line, the Standing Orders are quite clear that you need, in writing, to take this matter up with Speaker so he can be better prepared. But I have ruled that the speech at this stage and certainly where it has now moved to can continue. I do not want further objections unless we go into an area of territory that is dangerous, and, frankly, I will be listening very carefully, so I will be the first on my feet, I suspect.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I have ruled on the matter. Is it a fresh point of order?

Chris Hipkins: It is a fresh point of order. I will try to be very careful in doing so. It is that where members suspect that the particular Standing Orders that you are referring to—and I think we all know what they are—are being transgressed, I think we get ourselves into some difficult territory that it may be useful for you to provide some further guidance on to the House. Members may interpret a comment a member is making as traversing that material that either was not intended or so, but in raising a point of order they may themselves actually introduce material that links comments that either were not intended or were not intended in that way. I wonder whether you can give us some clarity on how members can raise that without themselves getting into the difficulty with the courts.

That’s an interesting and valid point. While initial comments may go close to a legal line it’s possible that comments in response could combine to threaten to trip over that line.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Well, I do not think there is any guidance I can give on that, but I accept the point the member is making. The issue now has been highlighted by the points of order raised. That is, effectively, what the member is saying. As I said, I have not ruled anything out at this stage but I am listening carefully. I invite Mr Shaw to continue his contribution.

JAMES SHAW: When we stand accused of backing rapists and paedophiles and murderers, we take great offence—particularly those members who have been the victims of rapists and paedophiles and murderers and who have fought for years and years and years for the rights of those victims. I find it absolutely extraordinary that the Prime Minister has chosen to distract from his own troubles by choosing to go on the offence and to say—for some inexplicable reason—that the records of members on this side of the House in fighting that fights are somehow the exact opposite. That is what he is accusing them of.

Key obviously hit a raw nerve. His attack was deliberate but he may not have considered the potential rammificatins of what he said.

That is an extraordinary thing. I mean, the lines that he is using—I get that they have been dreamt up in the Australian offices—

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Crosby/Textor.

JAMES SHAW: —of political consulting firm Crosby/Textor, because they have been trotted out here and in Australia. He wants to look tough on crime, and I know it is a dog whistle to the kind of red meat brigade who consistently vote for National. But it is absolutely unacceptable in this House to accuse members of the Opposition of backing rapists and murderers. It is completely unparliamentary. It lacks leadership. It brings this House into disrepute. It is quite clear that until an apology is made for those comments and until they are withdrawn that this House will continue to see a high level of disorder. Mr Speaker, I would like you to reflect on your own rulings. I recognise that you have made a number of rulings in relation to this matter over the last several hours and looked at the events of yesterday, but you have to accept that because of the nature of those rulings that we are going to see continued disorder. Essentially, what has happened is that the members of the Opposition now have no confidence in the procedures of this House and no confidence in the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will stand and withdraw that comment.

JAMES SHAW: I withdraw and apologise, Mr Speaker—unlike our Prime Minister, who does not have the grace to do so.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just carry on with the speech.

JAMES SHAW: What we have seen here is that the Opposition has been attempting to hold the Government to account on its human rights record, attempting to hold our Australian friends to account for their transgressions of human rights.

What has happened is that in order to distract from that issue and in order to look tough on crime and boost the poll ratings amongst the sort of “Stamp them on the neck until they stop what they’re doing” crowd, the “Lock them up and throw away the key” crowd—I think it is the Prime Minister who should be locked up.

Emotions were obviously high but that’s starting to look like tit for tat abuse.

The extraordinary thing here is that they have just gone on the offensive and decided that in order to distract from all of that they are going to lay it on this side of the House—that for some reason members who have been abused, members who have stood up for the victims of abuse for their entire career are somehow backing rapists and murderers and paedophiles. It is utterly absurd. It is completely offensive. It lacks leadership. It is unparliamentary, and it brings into disrepute this House and our proceedings.

Parliament looks set to be a very unhappy place unless this is dealt with apropriately by all concerned.

Parliamentary All Black team

Audrey Young has selected an political All Black team – Here they are – All Blacks of NZ Parliament.

She has given details but here’s the team line up.

  1. Loosehead prop – Judith Collins
  2. Hooker – Trevor Mallard
  3. Tight-head prop – Gerry Brownlee
  4. Lock – Amy Adams
  5. Lock – Phil Twyford
  6. Blind-side flanker – Andrew Little
  7. Open-side flanker – John Key
  8. Number 8 – Grant Robertson
  9. Halfback – Ron Mark
  10. First five-eighth – Bill English
  11. Left wing – Jacinda Ardern
  12. Second five-eighth – Paula Bennett
  13. Centre – Annette King
  14. Right wing – Winston Peters
  15. Fullback – Steven Joyce

Who would want to try and coach them?

That’s 7 National to 8 Opposition and ten male to 5 female, which approximates Parliaments current proportions.

  • Reserves: Simon Bridges, Chris Hipkins and Te Ururoa Flavell.

The Greens may or may not appreciate being left out of the rugged team but Turei and ACT’s Seymour are on the sideline:

  • David Seymour has nominated himself as the water-boy but he has roped in Metiria Turei to be his special assistant to sniff test each bottle for alcohol.

Peter Dunne is the only one not represented, and he doesn’t really look like referee material.

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