Speaker Carter

Jane Clifton writes at Stuff:

As new Speaker began his first full sitting day in the job, Winston Peters started as he meant to go on, too: “Pointofordah!”

This is usually the first thing out of the NZ First leader’s mouth at question time – but this was before the first question had even been asked. Mr Peters’ urgent problem with Mr Carter was “the regalia you’re wearing”. What was the background of the feathery capelet bedecking the Speaker’s shoulders?

Mr Peters’ mockingly querulous tone – “because we’re full of curiosity” – made it clear he was really asking: “What the heck have you come as?”

Mr Carter decided not to take offence, however, and explained good-humouredly that it was a Maori gift, symbolising “goodwill, honour and peace to the House”.

Mr Peters laughed delightedly as if he’d just heard the punchline to a good joke – though there was an immediate outbreak of goodwill in the form of House-wide applause for Mr Carter.

Save for a little cantankerous sniping later from the usual suspects, Mr Peters and Labour’s , and a bit of cheek from Green co-leader Russel Norman, Mr Carter had a reasonably undemanding workout.

I thought it was a good first outing for Speaker Carter. What was pleasing is that when Ministers didn’t answer a factual question, he allowed the Opposition MPs to re-ask the question (without it having to count as an additional question) until the Minister answered.

The funniest aspect was in relation to question 11 from Chris Hipkins to Hekia Parata about which, if any, particular decisions she regretted. Trevor Mallard got up before the question was even asked and started quoting several and Speaker’s Rulings. I, like most, was busy looking up the orders and rulings being referred to until at the end of his point of order he revealed that he was suggesting to the Speaker he be lenient if the primary answer is longer than is normally allowed. Very very funny, and a nice reasonably subtle (for Trevor) use of points of order to sledge someone.

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