National gets a new spin doctor, Andrew Bayly takes on Grant Robertson, Barbara Kuriger orders apples to stay ripe and Chris Hipkins has an unexpected encounter with a bagpipe.
Monday: New recruit for Collins:
National has secured a new chief press secretary after the departure of Michael Forbes, who fled to calmer waters after working under three National leaders in quick succession.
The new recruit is understood to be PR man John Mitchell, who worked for the Internet Party founded by Kim Dotcom – and was also the PR man for the Wellington Phoenix Football Club when it was owned by Terry Serepisos.
He will prove a valuable asset if Collins needs to fire any more renegade MPs: Mitchell was one of the judges on The Apprentice in 2010.
Mitchell starts in two weeks.
Tuesday: Andrew Bayly v Grant Robertson showdown
After Grant Robertson took a jab last week at National’s finance co-spokesman Andrew Bayly for only confronting him twice in Question Time since the May Budget, Bayly fronted up to Parliament with fire in his belly.
He put a question to a delighted Robertson on Tuesday.
Bayly stood for his big moment – only for Robertson to discover the question was about the management of MIQ rather than his management of the economy, and would have been better put to Chris Hipkins.
On Wednesday National’s other finance spokesman, Michael Woodhouse, had a go at Robertson, making a better fist of it by asking why the Covid fund had been frittered away on unrelated projects.
On Thursday, another question was put up – but Robertson was either feeling the heat or did not want Bayly to burn out. The question mentioned tax so Robertson simply transferred it to his colleague, Revenue Minister David Parker.
Wednesday: Don’t pick a fight with a man with a calculator
Act leader David Seymour is usually a diligent watchdog over taxpayers’ money and the use of Parliament’s time, so eyebrows rose on Tuesday when he got each of his nine MPs to ask him two questions each about his member’s bill, the Regulatory Standards Bill.
Parliament costs about $20,000 an hour to run, and Leader of the House Chris Hipkins noted afterward that it seemed like a monumental waste of Parliament’s time.
The next day, Seymour retaliated. He calculated how much time (and money) Labour had wasted since the election by getting its own MPs to ask ministers soft-ball patsy questions.
That came to 270 questions – taking 783 minutes of Parliament time at a cost of $4.287 million.
Seymour noted that Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s patsies alone had cost $444,651.
Thursday: Barbara Kuriger – from nark to jester
National MP Barbara Kuriger has had a tough week after it was revealed she was the MP who dobbed Todd Muller in for whispering to media.
But it takes more than that to keep Kuriger down. Parliament went into urgency to extend the timeframes for government audit reports because of auditor worker shortage.
Kuriger noted that a quick law change was not a viable solution for others facing worker shortages, such as orchardists. To drive her point home, she put in an amendment to extend the apple picking season by requiring local governments to “ask that apples stay ripe for picking for an extra three months.”
It did not pass, but Beehive Diaries applauds the effort.
Friday: Wedding Crashers: Parliament edition
A decision by Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins to do a last-minute press conference on Friday afternoon resulted in an unexpected and unusual scheduling conflict.
Hipkins called a 3pm standup in Parliament, only to discover that his colleague, Ilam MP Sarah Pallett, was getting married in the Legislative Council Chamber behind it at the exact same time.
Viewers of the livestreams were treated to Pallett’s bridal procession, bagpipes and all, before Hipkins’ announcements on the transtasman bubble.
Congratulations Sarah Pallett!
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