- Date published:
9:39 pm, June 30th, 2020 - 47 comments
Categories: China, grant robertson, jacinda ardern, national, todd muller, winston peters - Tags: covid-19, Covid19, matthew hooton
Poor Matthew Hooton must be wondering about what he has let himself in for.
Because it seems pretty clear, even at this early stage, that Todd Muller will not be the saviour for the National Party that they were hoping for. They may as well give up now and regroup so that after the election they can make the ex Air New Zealand guy leader. Or Judith Collins. Or someone else.
Two incidents yesterday showed why. One was the leaking of National’s internal poll results. 55 Labour to 34 National is not the leadership bounce they were hoping for. And Muller reluctantly disclosing it, and someone leaking that Muller reluctantly disclosed it suggests that the wounds evident in National’s caucus immediately after Simon Bridges was dumped have not healed.
Then yesterday afternoon in the house Todd Muller was destroyed.
Here is the video.
Hansard is interesting:
It started with this question from Winston Peters:
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Prime Minister, should we, despite there being a spike in COVID-19 cases in Beijing, open our borders with China, as Mr Muller from the National Party suggests?
Todd Muller: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Apart from knowing me for 30 years and he still can’t get my name right, that is not what I have said, and I have never said that directly.
Peters then raised a point of order relating to whether or not Muller was telling porkies.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A member’s word must be taken, but if that question has been put at least four times in this House—and the Hansard will attest to that—on the fifth time he can’t ask us to surely believe his word.
And Labour’s research unit went into overdrive and immediately fed Grant Robertson with the relevant media source:
Hon Grant Robertson: What is the Prime Minister’s response to the statement from National Party leader, Todd Muller, that it was critically important that we considered broadening the bubble beyond Australia: “It’s totally appropriate that Australia is our number one priority, but concurrently we need to be thinking around ‘so how do we open up to China, what does that look like?”
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I would confirm what I’ve said many times in this House: regardless of the overseas country we are considering, the criteria needs to be the same—that is, the safety of New Zealanders, the ability to keep our economy open, and our ability to move around domestically freely. Importing cases puts all of that at jeopardy.
Muller chose to continue to ask when the Government is going to open up the border. This was an incredible line to keep pushing given that National had the Government on the ropes last week because the border was not sufficiently sealed. Big business may want to open up the border but I can guarantee you that the vast majority of ordinary kiwis do not. And he kept feeding Jacinda home run ball after home run ball.
Todd Muller: To the Prime Minister, again, could she please confirm for New Zealand what is the criteria that would meet her satisfaction for the border of New Zealand to be opened to other countries?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: For the third or possibly fourth time: a country or state being free of community transmission, the ability to rapidly contact trace along the same criteria that we have in New Zealand, and the ability for rapid turnaround of testing so that we can be assured of the public data for any country being accurate data from which we make our judgments. To come back to the principle of what the member seems to be getting at, the suggestion that somehow New Zealand is standing in the way of opening up a trans-Tasman bubble is simply incorrect. There are two issues at play. One, community transmission in Australia—the idea that we would open up to the entire nation right now I think is out of step with where the New Zealand public is, and would threaten our position. Secondly, the possibility of state-by-state openings is not a matter for New Zealand; it is a matter for Prime Minister Morrison and is up to him. If the member takes issue with that, he should contact his counterparts in Australia.
Winston also had a dig:
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister, on the question of opening up the border with China, has she seen the Stuff article of 25 May—that’s last month—where Mr Muller said, “How can we move into other countries, like China, in due course”?
Nick Smith then chose to raise a point of order on the basis that quoting Muller in questions was an attack on him. I kid you not.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer to Speakers’ ruling 159/5, that states: “It is not reasonable to use questions from the governing party or its support parties to attack other members of the House.” …
I am not sure that Nick’s interjection was helpful. Maybe he was trying to help Muller. Maybe he was pointing out what an own goal Muller had just scored.
Even now it is clear that Todd Muller does not have the ability to match Jacinda in the house and National must be dreading the thought of what will happen in the campaign debates. And going on yesterday’s performance his tenure as opposition leader may be short lived.