It seems odd at first, blocking our closest friend’s leader from speaking in our Parliament, but the Greens were right to look at the higher principle. The debating chamber is where our sovereign assembly meets, it is not a place for foreigners to come, at the government of the day’s invitation, and lecture our elected representatives. I think the NBR put it best (not online):
“Like the Peters Sellers character in Being There, Key’s transition from “Chance the Gardener” to “Chauncy Gardiner” has been so convincing that no one dares challenge it. He now lacks advisers who can say “No, prime minister”. Where were his media people to stop him mincing down the catwalk and being blokey with Tony Veitch on radio, repeating the mistake he made with Paul Henry on television?
An even more cringeworthy mistake, although so far unremarked, is his idea of having Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard make a speech in parliament’s debating chamber. It’s a first, he says, apparently without understanding why it’s never been done before.
The chamber is designed solely for debate between members of parliament. Not only are all the seats taken; there is nowhere for her to stand. To have our elected representatives subjected to a lecture from a foreign prime minister is an act of supreme constitutional cringe. It’s a wonder that the Speaker, who control entry to the chamber, is allowing it to happen.”
Yes, a remarkable lapse from Lockwood, who is usually so keen to defend Parliament and its customs. Key, however, just doesn’t get it, like he doesn’t get anything. Most of his politics is based on the myth that he alone can somehow overturn the norms and rules of politics, that he can turn water into wine (and smile and wave at the same time). It’s not true, and the dangerous thing is he believes the myth.
And where was Gillard meant to stand? In the Speaker’s chair?