Politicians joke, fire shots in final speeches of the year

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 20 December 2017, 7:55PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has paid humorous tribute to Andrew Little, telling MPs if you're ever his deputy "run for the hills".

Tipping her hat to the man she replaced in the run up to the general election, Ardern said Little was "one of a kind", as Parliament finished up for the year today.

Chest-beating, political insults, and accusations of neglect from all parties coloured Parliament's adjournment debate this evening.

Ardern went through what she had learned over the year – starting with not to plumb her own toilet. She referred to National's finance spokesman Steven Joyce's claims of a "hole" in Labour's books during the campaign.

"I learnt an election can be a good, clean contest of ideas – with the exception of a few holes.

"I learnt that if you're ever a deputy to Andrew Little, prepare for the unexpected, and possibly run for the hills. And if you're a deputy to someone like Andrew Little, you will get the opportunity to see what an extraordinary man and politician he is. One of a kind."

She then listed what the Government had done in the 56 days since winning the Government benches, while also poking fun at herself and her "annoying dose of relentless positivity".

She ran through paid parental leave, the healthy homes bill, the families package, and the fees-free tertiary education policy, adding that it would have been a great policy for her when she used to work in a supermarket.

She finished by wishing her team a "restful" break because "there's a lot more to come in the New Year".

Opposition leader Bill English started by making fun of the numerous Government commissions, saying how refreshing it was to head to the summer break "without a Christmas Commission".

He thanked parliamentary workers including the Diplomatic Protection Squad, who used to protect him when he was Prime Minister. He said he once came to the debating chamber and, forgetting he was no longer Prime Minister, waited for a DPS member to swipe open the door for him.

"I invented the walk-run so the DPS could keep up with me when I went out on exercise."

He then said it was "a bit rich" to listen to the Government trumpet its "moral awesomeness and self-congratulations ... when they opposed every measure it took to generate the surpluses they are now handing out".

"They found the lolly bag and ran the lolly scramble without having any idea where it came from."

He said the families package meant his family would get $6000 "which we don't deserve", rather than the $1000 he would have received under National's tax cuts.

"I thank to the Government for that unexpected gift."

English ended on a more serious note: "Can I wish everyone in the chamber a Merry Christmas. It was one of the most intense campaigns we've had with the greatest public interest I can recall.

"It's good that the politicians showed the public we could debate these things intensely, and have a democratic transition so the country can get on with the job."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters took aim at National's front bench and each of their leadership ambitions.

"Amy Adams - she is playing such a long game it will be all over before it starts. Judith Collins - she's been playing a short game for a long time."

He called Simon O'Connor the "oldest young man in New Zealand politics", while Nick Smith had the virtue of "perfectly embodying how old and tired National looks".

He called Steven Joyce "fake news", and finished by calling Jian Yang "National's Manchurian candidate" - Peters' pick for the next National Party leader.

But even Peters was momentarily gracious enough to wish everyone a safe summer break.

"We've got to be safe on our roads, on our beaches these holidays. But the most dangerous place to be right now is the National party front bench, because right now they know they can't win, ever, with them."


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