Jane Clifton writes:
It’s probably safe to say that yesterday was the first time in history – possibly anywhere in the world – that a male Speaker of Parliament has found it necessary to defend his masculinity before the House.
Speaker Lockwood Smith’s unexpected intervention came after Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee, unconsciously reverting to a habit formed when Margaret Wilson was speaker of the last Parliament, referred to him as “Madam Speaker”. Dr Smith boggled somewhat, but politely waited until Mr Brownlee had finished his answer – which Mr Brownlee clearly considered to be a particularly witty riposte to pesky questions from the Greens – before asserting his manhood.
Unfortunately, hardly anyone except Dr Smith had noticed the garbled “Madam”, so the general air of shock can be imagined when he suddenly announced to Mr Brownlee: “I need to assure him that I have never had a sex change.”
MPs turned agape to Dr Smith, while a staggered Mr Brownlee struggled with his composure, clearly trying to think how his clever answer about mining could have been interpreted as a slur on the Speaker’s gender.
“I expect not!” he said, floundering. “Or there would have been a statement to Parliament.”
“It’s just that I’m not Madam Speaker,” Dr Smith explained, to everyone’s relief.
You can see it below on the video from In the House. I have to say I think In the House is a world class service. Being able to find and embed videos from the House within a few hours of proceedings in Parliament is excellent.