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MPs should not only follow the rules but follow them with stars

Written By: - Date published: 9:16 am, August 31st, 2021 - 68 comments
Categories: chris hipkins, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, Parliament, trevor mallard - Tags:

Parliament will be sitting today.

Not the streamlined digital accessible to all Parliament where all MPs could take an active part but the pared down version where five MPs are present in the debating chamber and get to throw barbs at each other.

The rest of the democratic and corporate sector in Aotearoa is agog.  Over the past 18 months we have all worked out how to do our business differently.  For me I can’t count how many Zoom, Skype or Teams meetings I have taken part in either for Council business, for politics or from a business perspective.

Digital meetings work.  There are downsides, the interpersonal contact before and after does not occur and it is much more difficult to read a room.  But there are advantages, people tend to be more civil and instead of drowning in morasses of long speeches business tends to be more truncated and to the point.  And no travel is required.  A number of groups whose meetings I attend have decided that Zoom works perfectly well.  Instead of a two hour meeting and up to an hour’s travel we now have a one and a half hour meeting.  Winning …

The development has more than a hint that Judith Collins has used the incident to deal to Chris Bishop.  It appears that a subcommittee of Bishop, Chris Hipkins and Trevor Mallard came up with the idea of a digital Parliament and how it would work.

But then National announced it would oppose the proposal and Bishop was sacked as opposition leader of the house in what Richard Harman describes as a very public humiliation (paywalled).

And now we have Auckland based Collins travelling to Wellington to shout in a near empty chamber.

The Greens and the Maori Party have expressed opposition and will not be there today.  From Henry Cooke at Stuff:

The Māori Party will not attend in-person sessions of Parliament under Covid-19 lockdown, saying National and ACT are endangering people by rejecting a virtual option.

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said she and fellow co-leader Rawiri Waititi would not be attending the session in Parliament.

Green Party MPs have also said they will only attend when Wellington is in level 3 – not on Tuesday, when it remains in level 4.

Collins has insisted that she was an essential worker and is justified in insisting on Parliament resuming.  From Russell Palmer at RNZ:

National leader Judith Collins would be required to fly down to attend, however. She said MPs were essential workers, and defended flying from Auckland to Wellington.

“I would much rather be home with my family, I would much rather that. And they would rather I was home with them. But why should I expect police officers, people who stack shelves in supermarkets, people who work in the airlines, to go and do their jobs … and I’d rather stay at home. that’s actually not what we expect from our leaders.

She said the government had steadfastly refused the opportunity to bring in the Epidemic Response Committee.

“That would have avoided any of this. As for the Zoom Parliament, never been tested here. The government has had 18 months, and [Speaker] Trevor Mallard had 18 months to work out how that would work. We’re looking at it and we don’t think that’s going to bring the scrutiny.

Such an absolutist view.  She has a right and will insist on exercising it no matter what the greater good is.  It is a shame she did not adopt the same approach when dealing with Ricardo Menendez March when she said that MPs have to be very careful to make sure that not only that they follow the rules, but they “follow the rules with stars basically”.

And she has danced on the head of a pin by claiming that the Epidemic Response Committee, which meets by zoom, should be reinstated but that all of Parliament meeting by zoom cannot.  She ignores the reality that National a year ago was the largest party in Parliament,  Now it is more of a rump that is in danger of becoming a minor party.

My personal view is that Collins has hopelessly overreached.  Comparing the importance of MPs being able to rock up to Parliament as being just as important as nurses, police officers, cleaners and supermarket workers is asking for a beat up.  The work of a politician can and should be done digitally right now and Auckland based MPs should do what the rest of us are doing and staying put.

She had better perform spectacularly well.  Otherwise she will look like she is gumming up the works of Government just so she can try and score some cheap political points.

68 comments on “MPs should not only follow the rules but follow them with stars ”

  1. Jester 1

    Judith Collins an essential worker……..I just choked on my coffee laughing.

    • Forget now 1.1

      MPs are essential workers for sure (though parliament is not the executive). But it is just as surely not a form of work that demands physical attendance (unlike say; nurses). Photo ops should not be prioritised over safety – what is essential to an individual politician is rarely essential to the country as a whole.

      This article by Wiles had a nice paragraph about the parliament meeting situation; in the broader context of effective health measures against the delta variants:

      The first big thing we have to do is ensure that anyone who can work remotely is working from home. Even if they are classed as an essential worker. I’m gutted to see that some opposition MPs have decided that parliament must meet in person at alert levels three and four. That puts not just them at risk, but everyone who needs to now come to the Beehive so that they can work there. Whatever your politics, I don’t think this is showing good leadership during a pandemic and sets a dangerous precedent. It wouldn’t surprise me if people begin to take that as a sign that they too can travel around the country and/or go in to work. All at a time when we need our restrictions to be as tight as possible.


    • georgecom 1.2

      an essentially what worker?

  2. dv 2

    I wonder if yes has had a covid test and had both jab.

    It would be 'ironic' if she brought covid to parliament.

  3. Stephen D 3

    I really hope that someone in the media draws a parallel with Collins total disregard of the science of COVID lockdowns, and how she would have managed the pandemic should she have been PM.

    With a graph😀

  4. fender 4

    Don't be so cruel, everyone knows Judith hasn't got much longer as opposition leader so let her have her fun while it lasts. And she hasn't been to church since being photographed praying prior to the last election !!

  5. Byd0nz 5

    The big danger is she will make a big fool of herself. Then she may get rolled as Nat leader, we don't want that, at least not until after the next election.

    • tc 5.1

      I dunno slimey bridges would be an equally gifted leader with his sense of entitlement and book to pimp.

      • lprent 5.1.1

        He did restrain himself from the essential tool with the select committee until after the outbreak was well dealt with.

        And he didn't act like the Collins super-spreader.

        After all, a National MP (possibly Nicola Wills – I just thought her name was ‘idiot’) was saying that in an unmasked parliament, that the MPs should only be 2 metres apart. Where do National find these people?

        That is the now out-dated distance for people with masks. Mallard was probably wrong for setting it to 5 metres – as he said that was a compromise – 10 metres is the safe unmasked distance. Unfortunately viruses tend to use the no-compromise strategy.

        But seriously – where do these extremely scientifically thick National MPs come from?

        • Clive Macann

          Louise Upston whinged about the 5m distance.

          • lprent

            Ah thanks. I scanned the article … Don't even know who Upston is.

            Scanned her wikpedia page and was astonished to see that she has been in Parliament since 2008. Looks like she might be a local MP – that Taupo electorate is huge. I can't see how Lake Karapiro can be in the Taupo electorate – but it does look like it must be.

            Otherwise she looks like a dead weight for National.

    • Treetop 5.2

      I would give Collins the platform to show what substance she is made of when it comes to the uncertainty of the Delta strain. There would be one condition, to abide by all the level restrictions once in Wellington.

      I would like to know more about the parliament bubbles.

  6. Ad 6

    If we get a fresh infection number in the 40s today Collins is pretty sunk.

    Hang in there Judith you're just what the country needs from the Opposition right now.

  7. Graeme 7

    This is wedge politics by the happy clappy wing of National. If Parliament can sit, then churches can worship. Anything more than Level 1 fucks their cashflow.

    Could also be a gross overreach

  8. Red Blooded One 8

    and it was only a few days ago that we were questioning accusations from the right (yes D___d that was you) that Jacinda wasn't competent to run DEMOCRACY via Zoom. Turns out the Troglodytes are in National and Act, now having to get less opportunity to ask questions because of their stubborn adherence to oppose at all costs.

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    The PM was blunt about her view of Collin’s intransigence on RNZ this morning.

    Hopefully “the public” will see this NZ National behaviour for exactly what it is. They are still sculling from an infinity keg of sour grape juice. The Greens and Māori Party at least have displayed some principle.

    The rest of us use zoom, and as Micky points out, so did the Epidemic Response Committee which Collins wants back! Why doesn’t she just drive to Wellington like Soymun did…

    • tc 9.1

      I thought she hung them out to dry over this in the covid 4pm update.

      Smiling all the time calmly explaining the situation.

  10. Reality 10

    Suspect Judith is wanting some media limelight on her and a few cameras around. Must choke on her cup of tea each time the PM is on TV and she misses out. The editorial in today's Dominion Post is worth reading and puts Michael Woodhouse in the dog box. After his childish toilet seat antics last year, his homeless man and divulging private information, he is not worthy of any respect.

    • Tiger Mountain 10.1

      Good. The filth some of those Nats came out with in 2020 should not be allowed to vanish down the memory hole.

  11. Patricia Bremner 11

    She has removed obstacles in her party to the point where she is left with the dregs and a very poor piece of timber holding up her political house. She has white anted herself and her party. It is so obvious, even her party supporters are critical.

  12. mike 12

    The trouble with a digital parliament at question time is that National can't shout the whole place down. In the house they barrack as a substitute for pithy interjection, sneering and poopooing ad infinitum and clapping like seals if they think they've scored a point. Tragic.

    Their last government of proven incompetents has morphed into a rump circus of cackling dumbos. Totally lowest common denominator this lot.

  13. Pete 13

    According to the sitting calendar for Parliament the sitting dates for July were the 1st, 6th, 7th and 8th.

    I don't think the world ended. I don't remember back then hearing a cacophony and baying at the moon from Collins or other politicians, Mike Hosking or their braindead supporters about that meaning the end of democracy. Nor caterwauling that the government was avoiding scrutiny.

    "She had better perform spectacularly well?" It isn't some sort of show but credit to Collins and Co. for making everything into a circus. 'Smarmin' & Bayly' or 'Jerk de the Spiel' ?

  14. Grant 14

    Jerk du cercles?

  15. Robert Guyton 15

    Essential workers wear masks – I wonder what style Judith will choose? I'm thinking clown or zombie, but others might have more vivid imaginations.

  16. Enough is Enough 16

    Why is this happening? Judith doesn't have any control of parliament?

    • Gosman 16.1

      Except the way Parliament's business committee works is usually via consensus. It is a vital part of our democracy and one I would hope you wouldn't want the government to ride rough shod over. You might like that to happen at this point in time but imagine if the political party you support is in opposition and the government of the day decides to manage parliamentary business in the way it likes without reference to anyone else.

      • Nordy 16.1.1

        Thanks for confirming the govt is doing the right thing (as it has done consistently), unlike the rabble that is the opposition.

  17. Incognito 17

    The Prima Donna doth protest too much.

  18. Poission 18

    Its airborne.(it travelled 20 metres)

    In 1906 M.H. Gordon, after gargling a liquid culture of S. marcescens, recited passages from Shakespeare to an audience of agar plates in an empty House of Commons. He had been commissioned to study the atmospheric hygiene of the House after an epidemic of influenza had appeared among its members. Gordon recovered colonies of pigmented S. marcescens from agar plates, demonstrating that speech, as well as coughing and sneezing, could project bacteria into the air. He reportedly suffered no ill effects from the experiment.


  19. Maurice 19

    Surely with Labour's majority Parliament is completely unnecessary and legislation can simply be put in place without the House being involved at all?

  20. Jake 20

    Please tell me the names of the members of the Business Cttee, and how they voted

  21. coreyjhumm 21

    She's living in our fantasy world. Collins is on another planet.

    As angry,disappointed heartbroken and at times disgusted with the current governments inaction on housing mental health and poverty and the rage their vaping regulations and threats of putting mean people in jail give me and many others

    This insane parliament sitting has made me stop hating the labour party and remember I hate the nats more. Utterly reckless and disgraceful to have parliament sit physically.

    I am mad that Ardern as PM didn't just use her powers to stop this, I think the internal polling must be bad she can stop us vapers from buying quit smoking products at dairys and stop everyone from going to work but refuses to use her constitutional powers to have parliament sit .. somethings up there …

    But I will never forget the risk national and act have put the country in just for point scoring. Utter trash people.

    I was entertaining the idea of voting act purely on free speech and vaping as labour and the greens don't care about poor people or housing or anything that's not a woke upper middle class cause and so I was going to abandon the left after being a lefty my entire adult life… but I don't want these reckless idiots in

    Now I want a lab/top or lab/nzf govt.

    Which is progress from me wanting labour out of power completely.

  22. Patricia Bremner 22


  23. dv 23

    National leader Judith Collins has pressed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on whether higher vaccination rates would have shortened the lockdown, as Parliament returns


    Vaccination helps to reduce the affect of the virus on the individual.

    IT DOES NOT stop transmission.

    • Andre 23.1

      On a population level, the vaccine does not stop transmission, but it greatly reduces transmission. So if JuDarth were actually asking questions in good faith rather than just trying for some political cheap shots, it would have been a fair question.

      Against the Delta variant, the Pfizer vaccine has real world effectiveness of roughly 75% in preventing infection for those fully vaccinated. That simple reduction in the number of people that get infected from an infection source directly translates to reduction in transmission at the population level and any outbreaks dying off sooner.

      There's also the matter that the breakthrough infections that do happen tend to be shorter than the infection duration in unvaccinated people, which is also likely to reduce transmission, but I haven't yet seen anything that puts numbers to that.

      To put rough hand-wavy numbers to it, if the Delta variant has R0 around 6 in a completely naive population (as New Zealand effectively was until May-ish), then in a 25% vaccinated population R0 would be roughly 5, in a 50% vaccinated population R0 would be around 3.8, in a 100% vaccinated population R0 would be 1.5.

      Note that the R0 being above 1.5 even in a fully vaccinated population means that further infection control measures such as ongoing mask use, social distancing, minimising potential superspreader events etc will still be needed to bring R effective below 1 so that outbreaks die out instead of growing.

      It also means that there is no chance of achieving herd immunity from vaccination alone. Everyone will be exposed to the virus at some point, the question for the vaccine hesitant is whether they want face the virus having received the protection of the vaccine, or face it with a naive untrained immune system with attendant much higher risk of severe disease or even death.

      https://www.ndm.ox.ac.uk/files/coronavirus/covid-19-infection-survey/finalfinalcombinedve20210816.pdf (big pdf of actual report with raw data and good graphs)

      https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-08-19-vaccines-still-effective-against-delta-variant-concern-says-oxford-led-study-covid (summary for general reading)

    • Tricledrown 23.2

      Check out Israel's latest covid outbreak returning to normal is not going to happen.Aucklands hospitals are already overstretched with just 40 patients.

      Collins grow up behaving like lord haw haw is treasonous to our country and our woefully underfunded health system which your Natinal Party largely caused tax cuts making it difficult to fund properly.

  24. Paul 24

    Die Hard 3 is NOT a Christmas movie.

  25. Given the junk yard that is now the national party the only possible alternative to JC is Simon Bridges.

    It will be interesting to see what the wealthy capitalists (including the downtrodden farmers (federated or not) choose to lead a "national" party,

    When they are not leading tractor led demonstrations about how badly they are treated

    None of them refused government handouts for wages and salaries. Some have had the decency to return the money, others, not.

    Boycott is an interesting word.

    • Maurice 25.1

      Perhaps we could all bring home to farmers out displeasure …. by stopping eating anything they produce?

      • Robert Guyton 25.1.1

        Are the cropping farmers howling alongside of their livestocking bro's?

        • Patricia Bremner

          Not as much Robert, but our tendency to overcrop one thing, avacado or grapes etc, which require large sources of water, often drawn from aquifers is a worry to many.

  26. Patricia Bremner 26

    Judith is doing her "shift the blame" number."It's her not me!!" What a crock.

    What has Judith done to improve our covid experience? I can not think of one thing.

    Does she even talk to the scientists? Or does she rely on what is convenient for her? When asked if she had talked with the Samoan community she said she talks to her husband all the time!! He of the horrible facebook posts!!

    Then when challenged she shows what she wanted all along… to poke a decision from Jacinda she could moan about. Full of it!!

    Jacinda Ardern is way ahead of this failed politician.

    • Pete 26.1

      What has Judith done to improve our covid experience? At least today she entertained me.

      Mostly I enjoyed her complaining that Ministers had their staff working in the lockdown. So did she want Parliament to operate? Does she want Ministers to operate or not?

      I suppose if you're going to look like a blue whale you may as well be all at sea.

  27. georgecom 27

    least under level 4 conditions no one can get close enough to bury the knife in her back. I imagine JC feels some safety as nats leader under level 4

  28. swordfish 28


    Jesus, how depressing for a once vibrant forum … the dreary echo chamber banality of tribal / partisan politics … particularly when those tribal politics are geared exclusively towards the less than noble goals of (a) furthering the careers of a small cadre of highly privileged politicians & (b) enacting the dubious ideology of equally privileged Woke ideologues … how bout focussing on the more profound issues of the day rather than petty, pointless fluff like this … it's beginning to resemble a ritualised Catholic liturgy … Micky starts with the incantation "In the name of the Judith, and of the Simon, and of the Holy Spirit" to which the faithful answer with mindnumbingly predictable variations of "Amen."

    I mean, what's the bloody point ? … apart, of course, from engendering some kind of small-scale communal solidarity.

    Then again, maybe this petty dumbing down is simply an inevitable corollary of the ascendancy of New Middle Class Woke politics & the deadening effect their authoritarian "moral" policing exerts on the crucial debates of our time.

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