Lockwood Smith

Tears of impotent rage…Felix Marwick is upset he isn’t shaping opinion

Feel the tears of impotent rage from Felix Marwick, upset that he isn’t one of those shaping opinion in election year.

There’s nothing quite like an election campaign for getting tempers up, emotions raised, and judgements lowered. All of a sudden anything becomes a tool for political gain. This is something we all need to bear in mind over the next five and a half weeks before the election.

Those with vested political interests will scheme and manipulate in almost any way that suits their purposes.  We’re already seeing it happen.

Consider the manufactured outrage we’ve already seen over a couple of incidents. Firstly the “f**k John Key” chant recorded at an Internet Mana rally. This is not necessarily the degradation of society and an all time low in politics that some would have us believe. Believe it or not it’s actually not all that unusual for those of the younger generation to use coarse language about their political leaders. It’s been happening for generations. I recall chasing the then Tertiary Education Minister Lockwood Smith around Canterbury University campus back in the 1990s. The language we used was not exactly complimentary and was generally similarly used on any visiting government minister. Just ask Ruth Richardson how she was treated by protestors after her “mother of all Budgets”.

Abuse of politicians isn’t respectful, but it’s not unusual.

What is interesting; however, are those who point to the incident as some sort of political Armageddon and a sign of dirty politics of the left. I’m really not convinced that Cameron Slater can claim any moral high ground here, nor can David Farrar. It’s really a bit rich for someone who ran a billboard campaign against the Electoral Finance Act that compared then Prime Minister Helen Clark to totalitarian leaders to be drawing comparisons between the Internet Party, Dotcom, and Hitler. Dotcom may be many things (and some of them reasonably unsavoury) but to draw parallels between him and one of the most reviled figures of the 20th century is simply ludicrous.

No it isn’t ludicrous Felix, those billboards were legitimate political debate around an issue, the erosion of freedom of speech by a implementation of a draconian law enacted by a morally corrupt government sensitive to criticism. It was a policy debate not a ranty chant from a Fat German Crook. Clark was acting like a totalitarian, and so she got compared to other dictators.

Bear in mind the footage that raised so much ire had been floating around for at least a fortnight and had been previously reported on. Where was the outrage and criticism then? Or was it a deliberate strategy to draw attention away from the other hot story of the day – foreign ownership of New Zealand land?

It was floating around for weeks, but the mainstream media ignored it, swept it under the carpet, pretending desperately that it wasn’t a story. Unfortunately it was. The traditional filters from the media are now gone. News is what people think is news not what tired journalists in the Press Galley think is news.   Read more »

Cunliffe making stuff up on TV3′s Firstline

On Firstline yesterday David Cunliffe gave us all a demonstration in weapons grade making stuff up.

At 3:00 he says that:

“The Prime Minister is responsible for the lowest standards of Ministerial conduct that I can remember in my time in Parliament, bar none”.

What about Labour’s Taito Phillip Field, the only ever MP found guilty of corruption?

When he was in the dock, David Cunliffe, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen all went into bat for him saying that “all Taito is guilty of is working hard for his constituents”.

Cunliffe even defended him multiple times in the house.

Lockwood Smith, at the time, issued this press release:

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith says the Labour Government has “stooped to a new low” with its efforts to avoid accountability over the Taito Phillip Field fiasco.

“The Immigration Minister, David Cunliffe, is now refusing to answer legitimate questions about warning notes and telephone calls by Immigration Department staff to the Minister’s office.

“Those messages focused on the fact that Thai overstayers, who were later given visas on special Ministerial direction, were working for Taito Phillip Field while he was advocating on their behalf.    Read more »

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant – Green Hypocrites Outed

I blogged last week about Green MPs and their blubbing over lobbying. I alluded to there being two MPs who enjoyed the company of a lobbyist and her client at parliament despite the calls from their leader to unleash the disinfecting powers of sunlight.

Yesterday Holly Walker blogged again about lobbyists without any mention of the fact at least two Green MPs enjoy the company of lobbyists from time to time:

International best practice is to have a publically available register of lobbyists so that the public knows everyone – not just those who have a special swipe-card – who is seeking to influence decision makers about what.

If our parliament is really as open and accessible as everyone says, there should be no need for particular individuals to have swipe card access.  Read more »

Queens Birthday Honours [Full List]

QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY HONOURS 2013

The Order of New Zealand

ONZ
To be a Member of the said Order:
Emeritus Professor Albert Wendt, CNZM

For services to New Zealand

The New Zealand Order of Merit

DNZM
To be a Dame Companion of the said Order:
Mrs Ngāneko Kaihau Minhinnick, JP

For services to Māori and conservation

KNZM
To be Knights Companion of the said Order:
The Honourable Robert Stanley Chambers
(Deceased. This appointment took effect on 20 May 2013; Her Majesty’s approval having been signified before the date of decease.)

For services to the judiciary

Mr John Stratton Davies, QSO

For services to business and tourism

Dr The Right Honourable Alexander Lockwood Smith

For services as a Member of Parliament and as Speaker of the House of Representatives

Mr Gordon Frederick Tietjens, CNZM

For services to rugby   Read more »

Grant Robertson, Prime Minister? – Delivering Heads

Grant Robertson

Grant Robertson has failed in four years to deliver a single National minister’s head. This may seem a brutal measure of success, and it is, but aspiring leaders need to deliver heads.

The usual approach to delivering a head is to put a minister under so much pressure that they crack. This starts with lots of written questions, and is supported by ruthless questioning in question time, so every time a minister stands up their side all cringe.  Read more »

A good reason to bypass him

Nick Smith is lobbying hard for his reinstatement ‘advising’ the Prime Minister through the media that he thinks his gardening leave should end.

A refreshed Nick Smith says while his time on “gardening leave” has been good in parts, “my advice to the prime minister is ‘the garden is done’.”

If anyone other than a Bill English club member did that they’d have Wayne Eagleson whispering in their ears about how their career could be impacted by their impertinence.

Not only that it appears he has gone around his green taliban mates to get their support.  Read more »

Chris Finlayson is the perfect Arts Minister

Chris Finalyson is perhaps the best Arts Minister one could find in the world. He loathes pretentious art.

The Parliamentary Art Collection, value $12 million, includes an artwork in shagpile that can only be described as a piece of its time.

That time is 1981 – the year of the underarm bowling scandal, the Springbok Tour, and the first hints of the trend that shoulder pads and big hair will become. The piece, Variation in Apricot, is considered ‘textile art’. It reportedly feels like touching a dirty dog.

Arts Minister Chris Finlayson’s immediate reaction is sotto voce: “S***, that’s awful.”

Then he gets closer and sees the plaque that says it was donated by the National Party caucus wives in 1981 – when Robert Muldoon was the Prime Minister.

“Oh my God,” he says, shamefaced at slighting the taste of such a group of women. He slams into reverse and hunts for a more diplomatic adjective than ‘awful.’

“It certainly is a unique contribution to the art collection in Parliament.

I couldn’t think of better lighting for it. It has been very carefully thought through.”

It is in a dark corridor of Parliament, in an area where no members of the public and few MPs would go.

There are other insults:  Read more »

Lockwood to London, machinations begin

Parliament’s worst keep secret is out. Lockwood Smith has been appointed High Commissioner to London.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lockwood Smith, has been appointed New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister John Key announced Smith’s nomination to the position this morning.

“Lockwood Smith has had a distinguished political career and his nomination is a mark of the high esteem in which he is held,” Mr Key said.

“The nomination of Parliament’s Speaker to the role of High Commissioner emphasises the importance of relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.”

Smith has held the speaker’s role since 2008. He will likely take up the appointment early next year.

He has served as a Member of Parliament since 1984, when he was elected MP for Kaipara. In 1996, he became MP for Rodney, a role he held until 2011 when he went on the National Party List.

And so the machinations begin.

As parliament rose for the summer break David Carter and his loyal band of South Island supporters have been all cock-a-hoop and telling anyone who will listen that the deal is done for Speaker. Lockwood Smith has unwisely also said in a room full of people just recently that he knows who the next Speaker will be.

This of course presumes that it is the Prime Minister who appoints the Speaker. He does not. It is an open vote in parliament.

David Carter, assisted by Bill English has been lobbying hard behind the scenes for the job of Speaker. If asked he quietly bats the question away. He has been told by the PM not to be open.

However it looks like they may have been premature in starting to talk of the deal. Word has it too that Amy Adams, another South Island MP, is set to replace Carter when he ascends the speakership. Terribly ambitious and hopelessly immodest about her ambitions she has set about gloating too.

There is a wrinkle though. Both Carter and it appears the Prime Minister aren’t aware that the vote for Speaker cannot be whipped, despite threats to do so. They are also unaware of standing orders that mean that proxies are disallowed…so whereas Carter and the PM may have believed they had 59 votes in the bag for their choice they have forgotten that some MPs may well be away when parliament resumes and the expected vote is taken.

There is certainly room for a suitable challenger to set the cat amongst the pigeons and lobby to garner the support of the Greens, Labour and NZ First. Carter cannot expect any votes from NZ First after a long running and acrimonious battle with Winston Peters over the years.

Peter Dunne can be expected to follow standing orders and John Banks has the required grit to resist attempts by the PM to try and make the vote for Speaker a supply and confidence motion…which would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Surely the PM won’t risk an election over the role of Speaker.

If someone can get that support, and pick up just a few National back benchers then the PM…and Carter risk a humiliation in the vote for Speaker.

Of course that all presumes that venal self interest doesn’t take hold to settle everyone down.

Clifton on Tigger

I was recovering from my trip to Fiji and so missed this article by Jane Clifton about National’s next Speaker:

The parliamentary speaker’s chair will be vacant early next year when Lockwood Smith is posted to our High Commission in London, and though to say speculation about who will be our next caped crusader is feverish would be an overstatement, there is a degree of jockeying for the position among National’s seniors.

Not all the jockeying, however, is aimed at securing the position. As a result of a flying wedge interrogation operation I conducted at one of those inside-the-beltway Wellington parties the other night with two fellow senior members of the press gallery, I can be reasonably certain that the front-runner is not the widely-tipped David Carter, but Maurice Williamson. By a process of gall, guile, charm and flattery, we have reliably deduced from our research that, while both ministers have been sounded out for the role, one is having a renewed lease of life in his portfolios and wants to keep them, while the other gentleman, not to put too fine a point on it, has not.

I can just imagine Jane leading the flying wedge.

Not, as a regular parliamentary sketch-writer, that I’m self-interested or anything, but a Williamson speakership would guarantee a lively and entertaining parliament, as the Pakuranga MP has a ready and anarchic sense of humour, and what Dr Brian Edwards likes to call the performance gene.

He’s understood to be very enthusiastic about the idea –as he is about much in life, the early-90s nickname Tigger having stuck fast. Unless he affects a personality change, he would be the most colourful presiding officer in living memory, and would likely build on Lockwood Smith’s change of the role, to a less legalistic style of applying the standing orders.

Williamson would also, again not to put too fine a point on it, not necessarily need a microphone as all past speakers have done.

The only questions are: how Williamson might manage to keep a straight face during the arcane daily ritual whereby the speaker is escorted at funereal pace by liveried officials carrying the ceremonial mace into the House each day; and how might the former Air New Zealand IT wallah part with his beloved iPad for the hours he would be required to spend in the chair?

There are some others who would eye the job with envy:

However, other speakership possibilities are experienced assistant/deputy speaker MPs, Eric Roy and Lindsay Tisch. It’s not clear whether either has yet been shoulder-tapped to express an interest in the job, but if not, at least in the latter case, it may be because the MP’s short stature would require him to over-use the speakerly warning,”I’m on my feet!”

There is at least one other wild card contender, who falls into the realm of a would-be poacher-turned-gamekeeper. No, not John Banks – that I know of, anyway – but watch this space.

Lindsay should just retire, his days of glory faded a long time ago. He is just holding up a safe blue seat for a star of the future.

I’m interested in who her wild card may be.

Explaining is Losing, Ctd

Winston Peters got slung out of the house today for his utter petulance. Tracy Watkins writes:

Parliament’s tribute to three dead Kiwi soldiers has been married by acrimony which led to NZ First leader Winston Peters being ejected after parliament’s Speaker accused MPs of behaving like spoilt brats.

Speaker Lockwood Smith ordered Mr Peters out after a series of exchanges following a tribute to three kiwi soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Sunday.

Dr Smith said Parliament had just paid tribute to the soldiers who had lost their lives.

“And we carry on like spoilt brats.”

After Mr Peters left, Dr Smith said he had received “numerous complaints” in recent days from people concerned about the behaviour of MPs in the house.

The exchange occurred during normal parliamentary business and question time after MPs delivered speeches honouring the dead soldiers. Mr Peters was disputing the way Prime Minister John Key had answered a question.

Now he is “explaining” in a press release, attacking Tracy Watkins and even spells her name incorrectly.

New Zealand First says Fairfax reporter Tracey Watkins latest diatribe on events in Parliament today is a disgraceful piece of journalism.

Rt Hon Winston Peters says tributes to three dead soldiers occurred in Parliament but business had then moved on to Question Time.

“To suggest what happened in Question Time reflects on their memory is totally irresponsible but not untypical of this reporter.

As regular readers will know, explaining is losing and it looks like Winston peters will be joining Trevor Mallard at the dementia ward.