Power in General Debate

June 16th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

 

John Armstrong writes in the NZ Herald:

So Power opted for an oblique, but potentially hugely effective means of undermining a political opponent in the eyes of colleagues. Having made obligatory remarks about the plight of Cantabrians, he launched into a vigorous promotion of Mallard’s leadership credentials.

Power’s lampooning of the long-serving Labour stalwart was the funnier for everyone knowing that while there is precious little chance of Mallard becoming Labour leader, it is not wholly impossible in an unforeseen emergency.

Such was Power’s blitzkrieg-like precision and timing that it was obvious he had devoted considerable effort to writing and rehearsing yesterday’s speech, delivered during the Wednesday afternoon free-for-all general debate in the House.

Power began by naming potential aspirants lining up to take over from Phil Goff. That list included Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson, who was being compared to David Lange – “mainly by himself”.

Power then pondered the “mystery” of why Mallard had been leapfrogged over more highly ranked colleagues and given the tricky task of fronting for the party at last week’s press conference on the police decision not to charge Darren Hughes.

“‘Dare I say it, he [Mallard] looked authoritative and authentic. I have to say he is starting to look just a little bit like a future Leader of the Opposition.”

Power speculated that Mallard’s serious cycling accident earlier in the year had “liberated” the MP from “the important business of pushbikes so he could focus on his hobby of politics”.

I think Trevor’s priorities in order are cycling, blogging and then Parliament.

“He is looking in control, energetic … not doing too much too soon, playing the long game. A very long game,” Power added to the amusement of surrounding colleagues.

The lampooning continued without mercy. “This man knows if he can just wait Phil Goff out, the opportunities to take the reins are there for him … I think has found his mojo in recent weeks. I think knows it is only a matter of time before that long ambition he has held comes to realisation.”

The victim was well and truly skewered by now. Mallard’s only defence was an increasingly broad smile which suggested that as someone who can dish it out, he can also take it when it comes flying back. Even so, he was nervously jiggling up and down in his seat like a fish out of water.

The video is very funny, which is of course embedded above.

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23 Responses to “Power in General Debate”

  1. Chris Diack (723 comments) says:

    “Such was Power’s blitzkrieg-like precision and timing that it was obvious he had devoted considerable effort to writing and rehearsing yesterday’s speech”

    That speaks volumes. Heavens Armstrong is easily impressed.

    The General Debate is pretty much a failure in terms of generating any meaningful contributions from MP’s. The difficulty is to know how to reform it – for that would require co-operation from Labour and National.

    Labour and National use it as an opportunity to slag each other off and the minor parties make largely irrelevant contributions. The theme is always the same: the Opposition [Govt] is weak and divided; the Government cruel and incompetent.

    I guess Power gets points for at least attempting wit – even if it is rehearsed wit.

    Most of Power’s contributions to the GD are in a similar vein – I cannot think of one meaningful thing he has ever said in the general debate – and in that he isn’t unique.

    Perhaps Simon Power will say something meaningful in his valedictory – lets hope so.

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  2. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Well, I like Trev. He’s honest, upfront and a great representative for his community.

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  3. BeaB (2,085 comments) says:

    What a loss. Clearly this man can do far more in the real world rather than waste his time with the stupidities of parliament and the idiots in politics.
    John Key has taken it up as a pre-retirement thank you to his country.
    Labour are stuffed full of drones who wouldn’t stand a chance in the outside world.

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  4. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    On the contrary BeaB, his departure can’t come quickly enough. He didn’t and doesn’t have the courage to ignore official advice in respect of the Peter Ellis case. He’s not interested in miscarriages of justice, an irony considering he’s the Minister of Justice. To top it off, his reforms of the justice system will see more more innocent people wrongly convicted.

    The outside world are welcome to him.

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  5. Murray (8,842 comments) says:

    One hopes that Mallard is better at cycling than he is at the other two.

    You have a somewhat perplexing view of what constitutes honesty mike.

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  6. Elaycee (4,337 comments) says:

    Whilst the usual lefties fawn over Mallard, I simply can’t warm to him – and I don’t put this down to the fact that he is a convicted thug.

    Mallard uses Parliamentary privilege to throw crap around but then reacts very poorly when anything is turned back his way. He hasn’t changed his spots since he came to Wellington from Hamilton in 1993 and took over from Sonja Davies in Pencarrow.

    Crass, rude and displaying all the attributes of a class bully, Mallard is a good fit within Labour.

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  7. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Mallard is a genuinely good guy. He fights hard for his team. Some saw him as an import in 1993, as Davies was before him when pensioned off by the Labour movement to a safe seat, but Trevor (who by the way was born and raised in Wellington) has done a great job for the Hutt and is an extremely capable politician.

    FWIW,mostpoliticians get a bad rap. Personally, I believe most of them are in it for good reasons and do try their best.

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  8. David Garrett (6,787 comments) says:

    DPF, you’re the ultimate political insider…just why DID the Hon. Minister unexpectedly cut short his stellar political career?

    Genuinely curious, from Kaukapakapa…

    [DPF: I have no knowledge beyond Simon's statements. I was as stunned as everyone. My guess is it may have been a mix of deciding to get out on top, and possible a judgement that the leadership was unlikely in the future, so again get out on top]

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  9. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    WAS FIGJAM now FIFJAM

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  10. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    I can’t find my copy of Jeffrey Acher’s ” First Among Equals ” ( unfortunately that probably means I have lent it to someone but haven’t a clue who ) but throughout the novel he describes moments when his four fictional MP’s capture the house and I would loved to have quoted him. Simon Power clearly did so in the above clip.

    While not a National supporter I was saddened by Power’s decision not to stay in parliament, he certainly looked to me to have PM potential.

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  11. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett, I have no idea either but I was amused by the unkind suggestion by Danyl at the Dim-Post ( I think ) that looking across the chamber at Phil Goff, he has decided to exit now and let some other mug take the inevitable opposition leadership role and come back at a later date and reclaim the leadership. Possibly not so far fetched given recent events.

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  12. Johnboy (15,602 comments) says:

    “why DID the Hon. Minister unexpectedly cut short his stellar political career? ”

    Question noted (with huge interest).

    Pending answer awaited with baited breath and pounding heart etc. :)

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  13. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    An excellent piece of mischief. Well done Simon

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  14. pdm (842 comments) says:

    Who is the scruffy looking joker with the moustache and the grunge look behind Power?

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  15. Richard Hurst (801 comments) says:

    “The General Debate is pretty much a failure in terms of generating any meaningful contributions from MP’s. The difficulty is to know how to reform it”

    Dear God, you want something meaningful from a parliamentary debate?! What do you think parliament is for? Rational discussion?! Reasoned argument?! That’s not what its for! A screaming bun fight , immature behaviour and theatrical venting of personal feelings, that’s what parliament is all about. You can’t reform parliament anymore than you can reform a kindergarten.

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  16. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Well done, Simon Power.

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  17. BlairM (2,307 comments) says:

    The whole point of the general debate is to pummel your enemy into submission and hear the wailing of the women. It’s not meant for intelligent discourse.

    Simon Power is one of those politicians in the mould of Bill English who are awesome at debating competitions, but lousy at leadership or governance, or policy, or vision, or anything else that makes it worthwhile to vote for somebody.

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  18. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Blair
    Agreed, performance in debate is not often correlated with performance in anything else. Think of our best parliamentary debaters over the year, Muldoon, Lange…

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  19. Chris Diack (723 comments) says:

    “The whole point of the general debate is to pummel your enemy into submission and hear the wailing of the women.”

    Mmmm we should not expect too much intelligence from Blair.

    Actually the purpose of the General Debate was to allow MP’s to address matters outside the rules of debate (principally relevancy) in the context of legislation (most of it this is the Govt’s agenda) but without any meaningful vote on anything (say a motion – relevancy and agenda setting issues again).

    The minor parties mostly use it this way but National and Labour mostly don’t.

    previously MPs used to do the point scoring stuff in little speeches for notices of motion (that were seldom voted on).

    As I said there isn’t much “debate” general or otherwise it’s mostly abuse. Yes it is a test of the bearpit aspects of Parliament but now a pretty poor one. The six o’clock news agenda is a more important indicator of the relative strengths of Govt and Opposition and the general debate hardly ever contributes to that. Performance in question time can however.

    Power got some column on this because of wit but most of the contributions are complete pitiful dross and have zero impact on the relative bearpit stakes even in the House and certainly not outside it.

    Just as the Speaker has made question time more politically relevant, the Parliament itself probably needs to look at the General Debate. Granted it’s hard to know how it could be made more relevant without National and Labour signing up to this.

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  20. Jeff83 (771 comments) says:

    In a way Simon and Mallard are quite similar. Both have the same ambition, and both realise that ambition will not be realised.

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  21. Clint Heine (1,569 comments) says:

    It shows that even in election year, Labour are not at all focused and the senior MPs are just sleepwalking until November so that they can be rid of Phil. Must be a holiday in there at the moment for most Labour MPs.

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  22. hubbers (230 comments) says:

    God how fat is the guy next to Mallard. Hardly a role model for young Kiwis.

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  23. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    hubbers

    Who is the fattest MP anyway? Gerry? Parekura?

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