Testing The Speaker

By   /   May 24, 2018  /   47 Comments

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QUESTION TIME IN PARLIAMENT this afternoon was a useful reminder of what Jacinda and her government are up against. In theory, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition are supposed to impress the Visitor’s Gallery as a government-in-waiting: sagacious, witty and (to use a favourite parliamentary term) honourable. In practice, Simon Bridges’ National Party Opposition comes across as ignorant, boorish and disturbingly truculent.

QUESTION TIME IN PARLIAMENT this afternoon was a useful reminder of what Jacinda and her government are up against. In theory, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition are supposed to impress the Visitor’s Gallery as a government-in-waiting: sagacious, witty and (to use a favourite parliamentary term) honourable. In practice, Simon Bridges’ National Party Opposition comes across as ignorant, boorish and disturbingly truculent.

Bridges’ people put one in mind of a hitherto unbeatable rugby team which has unaccountably lost the season’s most important game to a rag-tag bunch of scrawny and inexperienced ring-ins. “It shouldn’t have happened!”, has slowly-but-surely morphed into “It didn’t happen!” National appears convinced that if everyone had played by the rules they could not have lost the game. In their minds, Labour, NZ First and the Greens were only able to claim victory by cheating outrageously.

And so, they sit there on the Opposition’s side of the House, forced to swallow the bitter bile of defeat every time they lift their eyes to the mocking gaze of Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters and James Shaw.

The person who makes them retch most violently, however, is the Speaker, Labour’s Trevor Mallard. There’s an insouciance about Mallard’s management of the House; a barely suppressed glee; that is quite clearly driving National’s MPs crazy.

Mallard positively twinkles in the Speaker’s Chair. His many years in the Chamber have armed him against every trick in the Opposition play-book. Hardly surprising, since Mallard has, at one time or another, played every one of them. Knowing exactly what to expect, this parliamentary poacher-turned-gamekeeper lies in wait for the lumbering Nats and daily spoils their fun by dispensing a judicious measure of galling intellectual acuity and dead-eyed malice. He isn’t the least bit scared of Gerry Brownlee, Paula Bennett, Jamie-Lee Ross or David Bennett. They know it – and he knows they know it.

And still they come at him: proud Tory Samurai whose traditional swords and arrows are utterly unequal to Mallard’s pearl-handled Colt 45. He shoots them down for sport.

It will be interesting to observe how long Bridges is prepared to let this unequal contest go on. He must know that a battle with the Speaker, if it is not to end in the Opposition’s complete humiliation, must be escalated to the point where the normal operation of Parliament becomes impossible.

The problem is that the raising of spurious points-of-order and refusing to withdraw and apologise for unparliamentary conduct is an extremely risky strategy. Open defiance of the Chair, leading to the naming of members, interventions by the Sergeant-at-Arms, mass walkouts and point-blank refusals to re-join Government members in the Chamber will certainly bring the business of the House to a standstill. Unfortunately, it may also send the National Party’s public support into free-fall. New Zealanders don’t tend to have much time for players who argue with the ref.

But, even if National’s 44 percent support-base stays solid behind their wronged heroes; and even if Labour, NZ First and the Greens buckle in the face of such reckless political hatred; New Zealand’s parliamentary democracy would be irreparably damaged. The country would have reached the point so terrifyingly described in William Golding’s dystopian novel, Lord of the Flies, when Jack and his fellow savages overthrow the schoolboys’ brave attempt at self-government – symbolised by the beautiful conch-shell which guarantees whoever holds it a fair hearing.

“By him stood Piggy still holding out the talisman, the fragile shining beauty of the shell. The storm of sound beat at them, an incantation of hatred. High overhead, Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever […..] The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time even for a grunt, travelled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went. The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red.”

Democracy, too, is a fragile thing and the rocks used to destroy it take many forms.

 

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47 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    We all call the National Party “turbulent”

    They look so unhinged now, as they reallly cant get over loosing can they?

    “Simon Bridges’ National Party Opposition comes across as ignorant, boorish and disturbingly truculent.”

  2. R.P Mcmurphy says:

    no two ways about it. this opposition is a rabble.

    • Marc says:

      What a damned under estimation, they are the most dangerous, mafia like political mercenaries and gangsters.

  3. Marc says:

    This is an AGENDA, Chris, it is NO coincidence.

    Simon Burned Bridges bluffed the new government member parties into worrying about getting enough votes to get Mallard voted in as Speaker, he extorted a deal out of the bluff, hence got National many Select Committee chairmanships, under their control.

    This government is too inept, now the Nats are following a strategy to undermine and discredit the Speaker.

    Mallard is not as tidy and honest as he may make out to be, he is as ‘independent’ as that last hopeless Speaker Carter. He also intrduced a stupid new way to enforce ‘order’ in the House during question time, taking away supplementary questions from an offending party, and granting extra ones for the other party or parties in opposition, or in government.

    This has become a high risk counting and evaluating game, it is simply a high risk approach. Mallard also made some calls to order and some rulings that are inconsistent, he is his own worst enemy.

    The MSM note his past as not being such an ‘angel’ of an MP himself, having been ruled out of order and thrown out of the House.

    The Nats though are not as forgiving as Labour was when they were in opposition, they want to take Mallard out, so they get a weaker Speaker, or even one of their own, so they can truly screw this government.

    Business lobbies and interests, especially the vocal farming lobby, have vowed to take this government down, no matter what it takes. Watch and listen to the daily news, their complicit MSM ‘reporters’ of ‘scandals’ and ‘revelations’, often whipped up minor issues, are hard at work to get there.

    We will face an early election late this year, wait and see, this government is inept, weak and will soon find enough to fight among themselves, and the Nats will get their MSM mercenaries move the sentiment in the public downward for this government, so some major fabricated or generated ‘scandal’ will later see to it, that this government cannot continue, and an early election will be called.

    That is what is going on, it is an AGENDA.

    • Peter Mcfarlane says:

      I wouldn’t be so quick to underestimate the voters. This entitlement is very off putting for many voters from both sides. There is also the fundamental problem that national would have to get their highest vote ever to get above 50%. As they still don’t have a Coalition partner. If they’re trying to sweet talk Winston they’re doing a very bar job of it.

      • Marc says:

        There is a VERY strong base for National, the property owners are supporting them, the business operators are, including the once public enterprise SOE employees forced into contractor roles, to fend for themselves. Property owners are even middle class ones having boarders or flatmates pay the mortgage, and those having one to two rentals.

        A value system has evolved that respects people only for their OWN efforts, that is not collective and not socially focused, unless the focus is on groups with the same interests, like business associations, or community groups with their own selfish interests.

        They judge the rest by their interest, are they working, apprentices, in training, to SERVE them, or not, that is the judgment over those NOT owning property, the slaves.

        And they exert their power, the property and business owners, they have REAL control. If any person expresses dissent, the owners and bosses will express disapproval and exert power, and get them into line.

        Hence low union membership, hence little dissent, hence all tied into the slavishly serviant and corrupt system that is totally unsustainable, but they carry on, as if there is NO tomorrow, screw tomorrow, we want to consume, grow and waste now, to have ‘positive’ economic outcomes, all else is negative, ‘sabotage’ and ‘terrorism’, wait and hear it.

        This government is targeted to be destroyed by the vested interest holding powers that be, no doubt about it, is will happen soon, any person not getting this is an IDIOT.

        But people are black mailed and pressured, with their limited means, so they vote accordingly, they did this three times for Key.

        • XRAY says:

          That National was voted in 2014 and almost again in 2017 is in part because of Labours flawed method of electing unelectable leaders of such low inspiration, it was for National, like shooting fish in a barrel.

          Proof of that is when Jacinda bypassed the system.

  4. OCON says:

    An extremely partisan, selective and biased opinion piece Chris.

    Not once did you discuss the Speakers job description, which requires him to be impartial. Not once did you mention Mallard’s Machiavellian manovres to undermine the opposition by inventing something about what he thought he heard and then leaking it to the media in order to paint National in a negative light.

    He deserved what he got in parliament today; and should he continue with this arrogant partisan approach, he will be the one responsible for bringing the house into disrepute.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      National equal to civil dis-obedience as partm of a criminal act of sabotage on our parliamentary system.

      I would not be surprised if ex-National speaker david Carter was behindn this unruly stategy as he is styrangely quiet over this isn’t he just now?

      Remeber he was (according to trevor Mallard) assisting him in his new job for awhile earlier.

      Marc is 100% corect as national are embarking on a ‘mob rule’ action now in an attempt to sack the new government and should be hauled over the coals by the PM and her Parliamentary Crown Legal team for attempting to take over the elected Government as they always refussed to recognise MMP fromthe beginning.

      This is the end result of a ‘dyfuctinal mob rule opposition’ now we see ahead and must be arrested before we desend into anarchy.

      National = akin to marfia.

      weelcome to a third world opposition party form of unruly government if National get back in again.
      Dcarry times ahead.

      Labour need to firmly take control here.

      • OCON says:

        What a load of conspiratorial horse shit Clean Green!

        • John W says:

          That judgment may depend non your value system.

          Surely public good is the over riding goal, unless of course you believe trickle more down.

    • Pete says:

      I enjoyed reading your not extremely partisan, selective and biased opinion!

  5. XRAY says:

    National simply do not care how they gain power, be it whipping up public discontent through ludicrous hyperbole or just plain causing similarly over the top melt downs in Parliament to disrupt the functioning of democracy. They just don’t give s shit how it’s done

    Having been removed from power they just cannot accept it.

    National are imitating a gang not a political party.

  6. As National’s so-called reputation for “prudent fiscal management” is threatened by a new narrative of incompetence over the last nine years, they will increasingly become more belligerent and toxic in their behaviour.

    It may take a major scandal amongst National’s ranks for their hubris to be punctured.

    Until then, if they persist, New Zealand’s politics may become as acrimonious and our Parliamentary system as moribund, as the United States.

    It will require the Fourth Estate to highlight this situation, and to be reflected in David Farrar’s polling/focus groups, before National’s behaviour changes.

    Because until that happens, Bridges will see no reason to change strategy. It will take public opobrium to achieve that.

  7. Marc says:

    This is all much more serious as many loyal readers here realise, this is the fight over POWER of NZ Inc, and the law itself is designed to FAVOUR owners of power and EMPLOYERS, read it, do not believe any stupid naive BS.

    If you believe that your naive little voice on Fakebook or Twitter or here even matters, you better see a psychiatrist to get a reality check, they are by the way paid also by state or other vested interest groups.

    • Christine says:

      Marc is likely correct here; there is an agenda – and English more or less said so after he found out that he’d lost; currently they may be trying to trigger a constitutional crisis but they would have to be confident of being able to form a new govt; most bullies being cowards, some may be floundering.

  8. Marc says:

    I just love this warming of fire:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdvFxS6k_ZM

  9. Marc says:

    This is what frikcing some parts of Auckland deserve. I live here, we are denied a liveable quality of life, high exorbitant rents, we are treated like shit, fuck you landlords, I want you to get this fucking treatment, you capitalist swines:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjfoTFZYSuM

    FUCK YOU NZ Landlords

  10. Marc says:

    Democracy is a joke, there are revolutionaries evolving:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP3tClyL-3I

  11. Marc says:

    By the way, to answer all the screw balls and manipulators: The Black Block is the ONLY FEASIBLE answer to the quasi fascist system we have, such a capitalist system that reduces us to mere numbers of slave idiots to compete with each other for shit low paid jobs that on the so called global market are nothing but slave jobs, low paid and hardly sustainable,

    Hence we believe in passive resistance, but at times even forceful resistane is totally justified.

  12. Mike the Lefty says:

    Wasn’t it Paula Bennett who told Jacinda Adern in last parliament under the benignly smiling compliant National speaker Carter to “zip it sweetie”?
    Boy, she doesn’t like the boot being on the other foot does she?
    Typical National, they think they are born to rule.
    I think Trevor Mallard by and large does an OK job but has yet to really impress his style and personality on the house the way that Lockwood Smith did and David Carter failed miserably to do.

    • bert says:

      Bennett is a crass Westie and you can never take that out of her. She is the epitome of lipstick on a pig and as for Brownlee, listening to him gleefully and willing tell the media the “silly little girl” remark repeatedly, isn’t there a cricket pitch that needs rolling.

  13. Aaron says:

    National only had 44% of the vote because there is no one else for right wingers to vote for. ACT is joke and NZ First have gone into government with the enemy. If I was a right winger and a polling company asked me who I would vote for if an election was held today I’d be like; “National… I suppose”

    It’s only because National voters regularly vote that they got within 6% of the government – which lets face it, is actually a long way from being in power

    • Pete says:

      ACT is joke? That’s a bit harsh.

      Act is, Act is … Act is David Seymour.

      Okay, I concede, you got it, Act is a joke.

  14. bert says:

    Having 9 years listening to Carter admonish anything Winston or the left bloc asked, Mallard is a breath of fresh air. The reality is that Benefit and Blownee didn’t complain then!

  15. LOLBAGZ says:

    This artificially affected outrage about insignificant interjections is an example of the mask-like falseness and the effectively artificial intelligence nature of this regime. They are all scambots, their smarts are artificial

  16. James Brown says:

    I loved this: “And still they come at him: proud Tory Samurai whose traditional swords and arrows are utterly unequal to Mallard’s pearl-handled Colt 45. He shoots them down for sport.”

  17. Liminal says:

    The Natz’ frontbench is just appalling and a disgrace to a parliamentary democracy [can’t HM Queen be informed of their vile antics?] 🙂
    They actually LOOK like the scoundrels that they are (some here may remember the film The Unbearable Lightness of Being).

    • Mike the Lefty says:

      A large part of the reason being that they still can’t fully grasp the situation that they are in opposition, not government.
      I recall a classic interview in which Pete Townshend of the Who was asked why the group smashed their instruments on stage.
      Pete replied facetiously “all lies not a word of truth” and when pressed he admitted “that was last week wasn’t it?”
      Que forward to the NZ parliament 2018.
      National needs to grow up and admit they were outsmarted in the negotiations to form a new government (yeah right!)
      Even the National-loving MSM are commenting on how the National frontbenchers are acting like a bunch of foiled desperados and bringing the house into disrepute.
      Did we expect any better?

  18. maako says:

    “Righto Kick him in the Guts Trev” https://youtu.be/uShmZMtrePY

  19. esoteric pineapples says:

    It’s interesting that National is taking the same path as the Republican Party in the United States. I’ve never come across anyone pointing out the similarities, let alone asking why? Is it a co-incidence or are their conduits between the two?

    • OCON says:

      Maybe its because there’s nothing to see here. In other words your making it up.

      • John W says:

        Which part

        • OCON says:

          All of it. In particular the bit about the Nats following the Republican party.

          This thread is about Mallard who is the Speaker and how the darstedly National Party are being mean to him – the poor darling.

          In the US its the Republicans who control the Speaker’s chair in Congress and whatever position runs the Senate (which they also control) and so they are in a totally different situation to NZ The US situation is incomparable to here.

          The other consideration is that EP doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  20. Brian F says:

    I watch QT on TV most days and the constancy on the various visages of the Opposition National party is one that speaks volumes, saying: “sore losers”; “we have no right to be on this side – we were born to rule”; “how did this catastrophe happen to us?”; “silly little girl” … etc etc.
    The most entertaining and enlightening visage is that of Judith Collins. I am left wondering if she actually does spit tacks!

  21. Miles says:

    Mallard is a shocker Speaker. Totally biased towards the Speaker, but also, unsure of his own rulings. National have been patient long enough, they don’t grand stand like Winston does at every opportunity (and gets away with it!). Dreadful Speaker, that fits a dreadful, iligeitimate govt! Bet he doesn’t last three full years, and same with the three headed hydra govt.

    • Quicksilver says:

      Bless you Miles.
      Your incoherent rant reminded me precisely of Simon -10 Bridges deluded oratory in Parliament.
      You’ve done a nice job lampooning the irrational outbursts of many of the non-thinking right wing by mimicking their pathetic commentary so well.

      Congrats!

    • In Vino says:

      So the Speaker is biased towards the Speaker? Please try to make sense.

  22. Andrew says:

    This government is already in trouble.

    If it wasn’t or Mallard’s evident bias as Speaker, Claire Curren’s head would already be on a pike.

    The next obvious target is Twyford. The man is a prat and already he’s lost one of his portfolios because of this. Kiwibuild is a slow motion train smash – and he will wear it like a millstone.

    What’s next???

    A vote of no confidence in the Speaker? A walk out?

    Fun times!

    Mallard is just a thug – previously found guilty of assault in parliament and blatantly unsuited to the role of Speaker. He lacks the intellect to do the job.