There was some drama yesterday in the Beehive.
Kris Faafoi and Trevor Mallard announced that they will be resigning from Parliament.
Faafoi’s resignation was transmitted pretty clearly when he gave up the Mana seat last election. His is the best way to end your parliamentary career. Structure things so that no by election is required and the functioning of Parliament can continue with no fuss. If Simon Bridges had done the same thing the country would have been spared the millions that the Tauranga by election will cost.
Trevor Mallard also announced that he will be resigning. He is apparently to be appointed as our next Diplomat to Ireland.
Mallard is controversial. He has a habit of getting involved in incidents that attract controversy. He is also hard working and dedicated to the job. Audrey Young’s analysis that Mallard will make a fine diplomat and that he is competent, usually acts in the best interests of Parliament and New Zealand, and can work collegially is also accurate.
In particular she said:
Most of what he does as Speaker, and previously as a minister, has been uncontroversial and unseen. He is competent, usually acts in the best interests of Parliament and New Zealand, and can work collegially.
He has undertaken reforms that have allowed Opposition MPs to put the heat on ministers if they don’t know their stuff.
He has not been a great Speaker inside the House because of his intolerance of hubbub, which tends to come more from the Opposition.
Mallard is 80 per cent good, 20 per cent bad but it is the bad that is remembered, particularly two episodes as Speaker.
National has attacked his performance as Speaker. My view is that this is hubris and a reflection of the fact they still do not understand how they are not in power. Mallard is direct and often abrupt but if you watch him closely he has really tried to make Parliament work better.
The third major development was Poto Williams’s sideways shuffle out of Police and into Conservation and Disability issues. Chris Hipkins will replace her as Police Minister.
I thought she was an interesting choice as Police Minister but her considerable experience dealing with domestic violence meant that her selection was a good one. More recent pressures from gang inspired drive by shootings and National’s frankly misogynist attacks on her have caused Ardern to adjust.
The debate rankles. National’s suite of policy proposals will have no practical effect. The answer is to increase police resources and police numbers both of which Poto has achieved.
And this morning National kept up with the foghorn claiming that Hipkins will be nothing more than window dressing for the public. National’s tactic of attacking and raising people’s level of grumpiness is pretty clear.
It will be interesting to see what Hipkins does about National’s campaign for warrantless searches of gang members. The proposal is legally very difficult to get right and in my view cannot be justified. At least National appears to now understand that there is a warrantless power of search for arms and is arguing that there should be no restrictions on when it can be exercised. But don’t expect any reduction in National’s rhetoric.
She is an utterly decent person, a very good employer, unlike many in Parliament and a hard working, well networked and intelligent MP. Politics as usual, as played by National, does not not credit these sorts of people. It should.
Kiritapu Allen has been elevated into Cabinet and given the Justice portfolio. Call me biased but I think that lawyers should always be preferred for this position.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan has also been awarded for completing some important projects and has also been elevated to Cabinet and will be associate Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety.
Michael Wood has shown his importance by being made Minister of Immigration. This is one of those portfolios that can challenge but I am sure he will be up to the job.
There are other consequential changes.
Today Next Tuesday should be an interesting day in Parliament.