Speaker's spontaneous ejection pops discipline cherry
Mallard managed to get himself chucked out of the chamber for the day - right before the General Debate began at 3:30pm. He had been belligerent during question time and pushed the quizmaster Speaker once too often - defying his rulings. I believe this is the first instance that this new Speaker has exercised his powers to eject an MP for the day's session as summary punishment for bad behaviour.
There is a lot of pre-budget tension, a lot of swagger and confrontation from both sides now the media have officially declared the government's extended honeymoon over. And a lot of talk of debt to GDP ratios and the international credit ratings agencies. English and Key both answering. Unemployment was noted, but our stats look better than even the Aussies.
Annette King's probing of the Social Welfare Minister over Christine Rankin's appointment process was strained, but Bennett came through unscathed. She and Education Minister Anne Tolley have been targeted by Labour as weak ministers with big portfolios. So far however both have remained above water - with Tolley the one more likely to sink if they keep the barrage up.
Russel Norman made a good case when the Transport Minister, Stephen Joyce, conceded that a cost -benefit analysis had not been done yet on all of the seven significant highway projects the govt has made their priority. How could they have made a list without knowing the value of it? How indeed? The roading-trucking lobby was not really mentioned, but one can imagine where National's ideas in this department may have sprung from.
Joyce and Judith Collins - the double act behind the government's anti-social motorists bills - kept couching their speeches in terms of serving the needs of Christchurch. But little beyond echoing outrage at things that their bills will not address.
In the General debate the out-going female co-leader of the Greens made their opening speech instead of the by-election candidate Norman - who one would of thought could do with as much publicity as possible. He should have given that speech. Then again it's not as if National will let Melissa Lee anywhere near a microphone in the House or in Mt Albert. Act's candidate, John Boscawen, was in full tersely clipped flight however later on: speaking particularly about the contentious Waterview link and attacking Labour's David Shearer.