A silly editorial

June 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

No fewer than 14 National MPs are retiring at the coming election, plus a couple from other parties. While the turnover is refreshing for public life, it carries a cost if every departee gives a valedictory address.

That cost became apparent this week when the Prime Minister remarked that the loss of John Banks’ vote would not make much difference to the Government’s remaining legislation because would take up much of the time left in this term of Parliament. Really?

They’re a factor, but a minor one. Valedictories are generally 15 minutes so 14 valedictories is a total of three and a half hours.

But if so many are leaving that their valedictories may take up sittings over several days, it is time to ask whether all deserve one. Few voters could name many of those retiring this year. Many are leaving because they have not been able to make much impact and accept that they should give others a chance. More credit to them, but valedictory time should be reserved for those who have made their mark and will be missed.

A pretty appalling snobbery.

No not all retiring MPs are high profile Ministers. But MPs who work to improve laws on select committees, who help develop policy, who represents the interest of their electorates are an invaluable part of Parliament, and the suggestion that some of them shouldn’t be allowed a 15 minute valedictory is nasty, mean-spirited and s form of snobbery

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29 Responses to “A silly editorial”

  1. Redbaiter (9,631 comments) says:

    Since when have the neo Pravda writers at the NZ Herald ever given a real damn how parliament’s time has been used?

    They’ve frequently encouraged all kinds of unnecessary legislation frequently under the guise of their wittering concern for the mythical socialist concept of “equality”.

    Part of the west’s “Lapdogs of socialism” movement- pretenders who have brought the craft of journalism in the west into utter disrepute.

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  2. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    I hope when Darien Fenton makes her valedictory parliament rises in unanimous acclaim and asks the Speaker to give her three hours! :)

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  3. mikenmild (11,752 comments) says:

    Got a thing for Darien have you, Johnboy?

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  4. Left Right and Centre (2,997 comments) says:

    They deserve their 15 mins of flame.

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  5. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    How could I not have milkey?

    She’s a blonde! :)

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  6. Tarquin North (361 comments) says:

    Rajen Prassad would be able to make a riveting speach. Did he actually acomplish anything? Anything more than five minutes long would require some serious padding.

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  7. mikenmild (11,752 comments) says:

    I seem to recall he issued a press release once. Can’t remember what it was about though.

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  8. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    GO..GO..GO.. Petone milkey! :)

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  9. TM (100 comments) says:

    15 minutes is a long time for a self-indulgent speech. I would be pissed off if any of my colleagues spoke for this long when they left, even the ones I hold in high regard.

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  10. BeaB (2,148 comments) says:

    And I suppose the Herald would choose their favoured few. I wonder what their criteria would be? They give disproportionate space to the showmen and the weird. Probably they would be allowed a valedictory for its entertainment value rather than one from a hard-working, conscientious MP who hasn’t made headlines.

    Perhaps part of the reason for the low voter turn-out is the way the Herald and other media continually portray politicians in the worst light, take deliberately unflattering photos of them and never publish speeches, contributions to committees, policy documents or, in fact, anything that would help inform the electorate.

    It was typical that old Lefty rag the Listener could only think of disreputable reasons for John Banks’s long contribution to politics.

    When our media are always so sneering, mocking and belittling, it’s little wonder that the public find other things to occupy their time rather than waste a Saturday morning at a local school hall.

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  11. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    You’re onto it BeaB.

    I wish the press would stop publishing those photo’s of Cunner’s that make him look like a Turtle! :)

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  12. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Afternoon Minus. You’ve missed a few! :)

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  13. UrbanNeocolonialist (310 comments) says:

    What does each of MP sitting cost the country? Couple of hundred thousand? How does the country get any benefit from valedictories? Do it at a pub or elsewhere, don’t waste taxpayers money and valuable time in the house.

    The whole debating chamber concept is rather dated in the 21st century. The processes it encapsulates could be far more efficiently conducted as an online forum/format. The amateur dramatics, rhetoric and schoolyard bickering are all a bit childish and don’t contribute to the better running of nz. It also prevents a lot of very able people who aren’t good at witty responses vitriol and rancour from rising in govt, cutting down the potential talent pool to those who spend all their time in lecturing/talking roles (eg lecturers, lawyers, DJ’s, journalists, pastors, and other jobs that involve a lot of public speaking) and giving way too much power to dickhead demagogues like Lange, Peters, Muldoon et al.

    Humans have evolved to think that having a powerful leader is a good thing (perhaps it was in stone age), but putting too much power in the hands of one individual has proven to be a terrible thing time and time again in modern history – far better to have it shared amongst members of an elected body.

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  14. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Worked for Mose’s UNc.

    Imagine the bickering among the Jew’s, as to exactly where the Red Sea should have been parted, without him? :)

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  15. David Garrett (7,554 comments) says:

    Urban: You make a very good point. I would have said 90% of the words spoken in debate is simply “filling” and adds absolutely nothing to the process…In addition of course, an opposition member could make a Churchillian speech in the HOuse against a Bill or some aspect of a Bill, and absolutely nothing would change…except just now and again..

    I recall one of the Nats’ crime Bills which had something to do with conducting criminal proceedings by video, thus saving all the time expense and trouble of transporting a prisoner from jail to court. Someone worked out that it was theoretically possible the way it was (badly) drafted for a whole trial to be done without the prisoner being able to see his accusers…and that is a fundamental no no..The Maoris indicated they would vote against it (they almost always opposed any justice bill) and the Nats were relying on us and Dunne…Long story short, Figjam Power had to come down to the House late at night and introduce an amendment, or it would not have passed…but that is very very rare.

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  16. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    Perhaps David you could just let us know whn the Hearld does a sensible editorial.

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  17. Scott1 (576 comments) says:

    Valedictories are just another sign of the arrogance of politicians.
    They can do their Valedictories on the TV after the news if they want, but they should stop wasting my time with pompous speeches about how awesome they think they all are.

    There are probably a whole set of other over pompous things that the politicians do that should be cut too.

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  18. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Mr Speaker could dispense with that pompous dead turkey feather cloaky thing and the pompous chap that carries the pompous mace to start with! :)

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  19. mara (795 comments) says:

    Give all just 5 minutes. There, fixed it.

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  20. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    And I’d love to know what the pompous, chinless chap that sit’s to the right of Mr. Speaker is actually there for? :)

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  21. Scott1 (576 comments) says:

    David G,
    Hmm 90% wastage sounds about right.
    Are there any workable rules that could be put in place that would help?
    (aside from Valedictories being reduced to 0-5 mins)

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  22. MT_Tinman (3,257 comments) says:

    If we dumped the lot and put a married couple in all the speeches could be over the dinner table.

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  23. Pongo (374 comments) says:

    what a petty small minded editorial. Many of the retiring MPs would have done a vast amount of electorate work, would have improved laws and been generally well regarded in the communities they represented. It reflects quite badly on the herald with that sort of a line especially coinsidering the vast amount of media time is spent on member of their own profession who have either done something stupid, retired, died or whatever that the public care not one fucking jot about.
    God knows why anyone subscribes to it.

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  24. peterwn (3,309 comments) says:

    The Herald never suggested who would decide whether a retiring MP had bone ‘enough’ to warrant a valedictory. Presumably the Herald thinks that ‘neutral’ Bryce Edwards should hold that exalted position on $1k a day.

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  25. ross411 (880 comments) says:

    Why do they even get a speech? It’s just a chance for a career blowhard who lives it large on taxpayer money, to have one final forced audience, at our expense. I’m sure it’s important that they get it from an insider ex-member of the boy’s club, like Farrar. But as a taxpayer, who watches this shit but the insiders.

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  26. tvb (4,515 comments) says:

    They should be allowed to leave with dignity. I hope john key and other ministers have the good grace to be present. The Herald reporters can be absent if they like

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  27. Akaroa (588 comments) says:

    Well, when you get up on your hind legs and speak to a captive audience – such as we’re discussing here – fifteen minutes can seem to be over in a flash. (Anyone whose done any public speaking can attest to that!)

    On the other hand, when listening to some tiresome old bore – (I’m not necessarily talking about our Parliamentarians in saying that btw) – then fifteen minutes can sometimes seem interminable.

    But – and to be serious for a moment – whatever opinion one holds about individual parliamentarians, I think the least that can be done is to give them time to make a valedictory speech to their fellow MPs in the house.

    Think about it.

    Your average MP has almost certainly put all sorts of hours into getting into the House, and, in many cases, let slide other opportunities – and probably made other personal sacrifices – all in the name of service to the community and nation.

    I take off my hat to them all – whether they be dorks or diamonds!!

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  28. mara (795 comments) says:

    Who remembers valedictory speeches anyway unless they are cosmically brilliant or idiotic? Mostly they inspire boredom and polite response. Likewise, why does the House rise and clap when the Speaker announces the presence in Parliament of some visiting non-entity?

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  29. gump (1,661 comments) says:

    @DPF

    In 2011 you blogged that the cost of running Parliament was $435,000 per hour.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/06/labours_400000_an_hour_filibuster.html

    So the cost of holding three and a half hours of valedictory speeches will cost the NZ taxpayer over $1.5 million dollars.

    Why isn’t the Taxpayer’s Union protesting this outrageous waste of money? It seems pretty hypocritical that they haven’t spoken up about it.

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