You have to admire the rat cunning of The Shark with this exchange in the House yesterday:
Switching support from one political party to the next has its downsides when past comments come back to haunt you.
Labour’s latest recruit Willie Jackson, who spent much of his time cheering on the Maori Party’s waka before boarding the Labour bus, was the butt of the biggest joke in Question Time on Tuesday as Labour’s attempted point-scoring went pear-shaped.
Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, who is also the Maori Party co-leader, had his record of success questioned by Labour’s Maori Affairs spokesman Kelvin Davis as the war for the Maori seats heats up between the two parties.
After a series of queries, and a lot of beating about the bush, it was time to move on to the next question before Flavell’s co-leader Marama Fox jumped up asking the Speaker of the House, David Carter, for a supplementary.
Carter told her she didn’t have any spare but Fox pointed out she had “an agreement to have another supplementary question allocated”, which she’d sneakily co-ordinated with National’s chief whip Tim Macindoe.
After a bit of toing and froing and Carter telling them to be more organised next time, Fox asked Flavell, “has the minister read any reports about the very good work he and Te Puni Kokiri are doing?”
Of course he had, and he was away with his prepared answer: “I have to take my hat off to the Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Maori party beating while gaining wins from the government in the 2016 budget.”
Then there was a catalogue of his successes over the last two years, followed by the punchline: “Mr Speaker, that quote came from the newest member of the Labour Party – Willie Jackson.”
Right on cue the House erupted with the Government benches wildly applauding as Labour and NZ First were split between putting their heads in their hands and randomly shouting whatever came to mind.
Kelvin Davis and Labour should really stick to beating up on people with chinky sounding names and cuddling criminals. Bashing The Shark probably isn’t a winning proposition these days.
What this does show though is Labour’s willingness to be condescending and doctrinaire towards Maori.