Andrew Dickens: National is being a petty pain in the arse

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Friday, 15 February 2019, 12:07p.m.
National likes these stunts, but I think it makes them look childish.
National likes these stunts, but I think it makes them look childish.

There’s a little story this week that I commented on and thought we’d move on but it caused a surprisingly large flurry of outrage in my email inbox.

Now I’m going to start this tale by stating that I can’t abide lateness.  Punctuality for me is more than a courtesy it’s pretty much a necessity.  I think it’s because I’ve spent my life on the radio and in newsrooms where deadlines are deadlines, not movable feasts.

I start this radio show everyday at 12 pm.  No excuses. I have NEVER been late for an on-air shift.  That’s because I make sure I get to the office with leeway.  I’ve done breakfast shifts for 25 years of my career and I never slept in.

So I was pretty horrified by a story this week that a select committee had been cancelled because government members of the committee were late. After all, they should have been there and ready 10 minutes before.

So the committee was set for 8 am.  One of the government members called in sick and others were minutes late. The opposition members were on time. The rules are that you have to have the quorum filled by 8.10am.  So you’re given 10 minutes grace. The government got their quorum numbers together by 10 minutes and 30 after 8.

So there was the committee at 11 minutes past 8 ready to go albeit a little late. And there were 15 submitters who had travelled to Wellington to participate in the democratic process. But the National members refused to convene saying Labour was late and everyone went home.

Now the one thing I hate as much as tardiness is intolerance and childish petulance. I can’t believe the National members made that call and I said as much on the radio this week. I called the whole lot of our politicians, left and right, childish entitled brats.

Well, this spurred the most remarkable flurry of correspondence from National supporters who couldn’t believe that I felt National had some blame.They all felt the blame lay solely at the incompetent government's feet. One fellow called Garry, called me an apologist for the government and didn’t know where I stood.

I have emailed Garry and told him where I stand. I stand for the taxpayers. The 15 people who pay their taxes but also paid their way to Wellington. The people the National party MPs eyeballed in the hall and said, tough, we’re going to waste your time and money to make a point against Labour.

I remind you that we’re talking about a whole load of MPs that we pay $170,000 a year to, who were getting per diems who walked away from a meeting.  The actual cost of this stunt to taxpayers is in the tens of thousands.

National likes these stunts, but I think it makes them look childish. There’s argy-bargy in the House this week about all the unanswered written questions that have been posed by the opposition.  Well, partly that’s because the opposition is asking petty pointless questions by the truckload.  Not to be useful but to be irritating and again I find that tactic to be a waste of my money that I pay in taxes.

So the reason I’m raking this one over again is that we had two promises after the election. One was for the most open, honest and transparent government ever. That’s not happening. But we also had a promise for the largest and most effective opposition ever. Being a petty pain in the arse is not what I thought that meant.