The skirmishing over a set of doors between Labour and National MPs’ offices has broken out again with each blaming the other for the dividing wall across what had become known as Parliament’s “demilitarised zone”.
With work on the doorway due to start soon, National backbencher Judith Collins on Tuesday tweeted: “Sad that@nzlabour has insisted on $50k doors between Lab & Nat MPs on Parlt’s 2nd floor.”
But Labour senior whip Chris Hipkins denied “insisting” on the doors, saying it was part of the original agreement between the two parties.
And a spokeswoman for Parliamentary Service said that while the actual cost of the door was not yet known, “it would almost certainly be less than $50,000”.
The double doors bring to an end a detente originally hammered out between Collins and Labour’s Annette King after the election when Labour’s shrinking caucus forced a shared area in the old Parliament Buildings.
Under the deal the two sides agreed to use lifts, toilets, a kitchen and staircases “behind enemy lines”, on the understanding that no-one strayed into each other’s offices without permission.
Hipkins said that agreement was only temporary and the doors were Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee’s idea, which he proposed when the offices were divvied up.
“If Judith would like to give up her office … we would be more than happy to take it back. But the doors were put in so that Judith could get the office she wanted in the corner,” Hipkins said.
National and Labour MPs are sharing a floor, because Labour has so few MPs they no longer covered the whole floor. All you need is an agreement that you respect each other’s offices and don’y go wondering in without permission.
The National MPs on that floor have said that they are fine with that approach.
It is Labour which has insisted on putting the doors in. They have been asked many times to drop the demand, but they refuse. So the result is up to $50,000 being spent on a new set of doors.