What’s this? Detente? Or has Christmas cheer arrived early for our politicians?
As Parliament met for the last time this year, Prime Minister John Key finally backed down and gave a heartfelt apology for tarring Labour as the party that “backs rapists”.
Labour leader Andrew Little rose in return to apologise for criticising Speaker David Carter as being too partisan.
The dual apologies was a nice end.
Smart politics on Labour’s part also. The privilege complaint against Little was for saying that the Speaker is too partisan, but a very specific allegation that he conspired with the Government to disqualify his members’ bill.
As the Clerk of the House had revealed that he had advised the Speaker that the bill should be disqualified (as it was near identical to another one that had been voted on this year), then Little was facing the unedifying possibility of a hearing where he either has to call the Clerk a liar, or admit he made the conspiracy theory up. So it is a smart move to make it go away.
A demob happy Steven Joyce delivered chocolate santas around the press gallery.
Even Annette King’s two fingered salute to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman was done in good humour.
It all felt like a strangely cheerful end to what has been a particularly toxic political year.Even the spectators who dropped paper from the public gallery onto the heads of MPs seated below them seemed to enter into the spirit of things. They were there to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But from a distance, the paper could have passed for confetti.