Take the media’s handling of Parliament going into Urgency.
When Labour filibustered over the second Auckland Supercity Bill, there were articles in the newspapers and snide remarks from news commentators about the supposed waste of money (although no-one was ever able to establish how much running a few extra hours of Parliament costs, except it’s a small amount).
Flash forward five months and we have now had five consecutive sitting weeks of the House being put into Urgency by National, and the same to come next week. National is using Urgency about three times as often as Labour did in its first term.
Is there a murmur from the media? Is there a complaint? You bet there isn’t.
In fact, there’s real grounds for criticism. Brownlee’s made a complete pig’s ear of running the House and it is costing money. He’s running Urgency but doesn’t have enough legislation.
On Tuesday there were two hours of extra time in the evening and on Wednesday four in the morning, meaning overtime had to paid to staff. But the Government to run out of legislation to pass at 8pm on Wednesday when it would usually sit until 10. So, the staff got paid their regular hours that night even though the House wasn’t sitting.
Yesterday, the House ran out of government legislation to vote on at 5pm, meaning four sitting hours were wasted but all the staff still get paid for their regular hours, of course. A total of six hours Urgency and five hours lost regular sitting hours – and it cost the taxpayer both ways.
But the concern for wasted taxpayer dollars that journalists exhibited when the cause was labour is absent when National is behind it.
Now, maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I should have been playing the David Farrar and whipping up the issue every day until it gets mainstream traction but, unlike Farrar, I prefer to write about the issues. Maybe Labour MPs should be pouring the story into journos’ ears like National MPs undoubtedly did when Labour extended Urgency.
Or maybe there’s simply no point expecting even a basic level of balance from a media that is still head over heels for their wee Johnnie.