Not great vibes in Parliament this week as Christopher Luxon fumbled the horse at his first Question Time rodeo. James Elliott has his light take on the news of the week.
The week started with some positive Covid news, as opposed to Covid positive news. We have secured the supply of 60,000 of Pfizer’s new antiviral pills to treat Covid patients. The Pfizer pills won’t arrive until April but in the meantime Pfizer beach towels (4m x 4m) and Pfizer sun hats (with 2m brims) will be available by Christmas, just in time for the summer holidays.
They’re called ‘Pfizer pills’ for the time being because the brand name is yet to be released. Brand names under consideration include “Bitter for Some”, “Toldyasoprin” and, especially for unvaxxed Covid patients whose complications include acute conspiracy syndrome, “Neo Blue”.
Speaking of Neo Blue it was a big week for new National Party leader Chris Luxon. On Monday he delivered the previously announced announcement of National’s new caucus line-up. All eyes were on Simon Bridges, the former leader who failed in his attempt to become the former former leader by becoming the leader again, and Judith Collins, who became National’s most recent former leader by kiboshing both her own leadership and Simon Bridges’ attempt to become the former former leader by becoming the leader again.
Chris Luxon delivered his scripted lines with all the assurance of a nervous school boy trying to pass off someone else’s report on what he did in the holidays as his own.
As it transpired, Simon Bridges was nudged up four places in the National Caucus to number three and was given the finance and infrastructure portfolios, a nudge that – and I can’t stress this enough – was most definitely not, according to both nudger and nudgee, accompanied by a wink when he pulled out of the leadership contest.
Meanwhile, Judith Collins was shunted down to number 19 of the 20 ranked caucus members, which makes you ponder what poor David Bennett did to be ranked at number 20. If you don’t know who David Bennett is, neither did I. Judith was given the ‘Research, Science and Technology’ portfolio, something she has a “real passion” for according to Chris Luxon. This is true. Apparently she is now passionately researching recipes from Lucrezia Borgia’s Christmas cookbook.
On Tuesday Chris Luxon got his first 1-on-1 crack at PM Jacinda Ardern during Parliamentary Question Time. If you’re not familiar with Question Time it’s the time when MPs get to ask questions of government ministers including the Prime Minister. It’s also the time when the rest of us wonder how anything gets done in Parliament if this is how MPs spend their time. In fact Question Time is about a lot more than just questions and answers, it’s a partially choreographed pantomime in which the lead players are judged not only on the delivery of their scripted lines, but also on their improvisations, interjections, and general swagger – the vibe if you will.
To make ICU capability the theme of your first serve at the PM was not so much a serve as a lob…
Chris Luxon delivered his scripted lines with all the assurance of a nervous school boy trying to pass off someone else’s report on what he did in the holidays as his own. At one point early on he got lost in his notes to the accompaniment of several “sorrys”. Not a great vibe.
To be fair it was his first rodeo as National’s leader at Question Time and as he stressed the day before, politics is a team game. But having his own questions to the PM bolstered and barbed by David Seymour’s supplementary questions probably wasn’t the team game he had in mind. My question about Luxon’s questions is why did he focus his questions on ICU resourcing? Whether we have adequate ICU resources is, at this point in time, a somewhat moot point given that our ICU capability is not currently being severely tested. Which isn’t to say that it won’t be severely tested in the near future, but to make ICU capability the theme of your first serve at the PM was not so much a serve as a lob, a lob that the PM smashed away comfortably with her well-rehearsed recitation of the Covid response measures that have so far spared any significant stress on our ICU resources. So far.
Chris Luxon may be a newbie at Question Time but he’s had a Twitter account for a couple of years now. The great thing about Twitter is that you can take as much unpressured time as you need to hone and craft a tweet into the perfect 280-character call to arms. So you have to question how much honing and crafting went into his midweek tweet that ended with this line – “We will be out there in the world happening to our future, rather than letting the future happen to us”.
It sounds like something Morpheus might have said to Neo in The Matrix. But didn’t. Because it’s just too weird. Almost as weird as Chris Bishop raising a point of order during Wednesday’s Question Time to point out that the PM hadn’t put her mask back on after answering a question. Also not a great vibe.
Have a peaceful weekend.
burning down the house