Comment: There was no claiming of a scalp from politicians or journalists on Monday, as is so often the case when there’s a ministerial resignation.

“Good morning” was replaced with “Are you okay?” and MPs and staff from across the political divide spoke and sent messages expressing nothing but great sadness over the “tragic” scenes that unfolded the night before.

The word tragic is usually used in moments of loss and grief, but in this instance was elevated to describe the demise of a political career.

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On Monday morning the Parliament collective had an outpouring of emotion for an MP who is both well known and well liked and had gone through something that ended with her crashing her car and getting arrested.

There is a newfound acceptance in Parliament in recent years that yes, people make mistakes and that includes politicians.

While there was acknowledgement this was a terrible mistake worthy of no longer being justice minister, there was also empathy for a woman who had experienced a deep and distressing time – a victim of her own demons after a well-documented period of mental health issues.

Sometimes it takes the worst of times to see the best in politics.

No one was ignoring Kiri Allan’s failures, but they were keen to put them in context.

A day is a long time in politics, however, and that was all it took for Act to ensure MPs were sat in the House dissecting the ministerial resignation of Allan on Tuesday.

The politicisation of Allan’s poor judgment and subsequent career loss was in full swing – broadcast for all to watch.

There are few, if any, other jobs in New Zealand where that sort of trial by colleagues takes place on live television.

All of that before she even gets to her first court appearance.

Act leader David Seymour had called for the urgent debate and used his time to criticise the culture and leadership of the Government, saying the “tragic sequence of events” experienced by Allan were “inextricably linked to the context of that Government”.

National’s Penny Simmonds was scolded by her colleague and Assistant Speaker, Jacqui Dean, for being well off topic when she lambasted the Prime Minister for letting down not only Allan, but also “farmers who have lost hope for their industry”.

She went on to say Allan resigning was “a consequence of the lack of support and leadership that was not shown to her by the Prime Minister, and I believe there have been a number of signals over the last few years that this Prime Minister, in his role as a minister, has done similar things to people within those areas and now to his Cabinet”.

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman had initially been heartened by the reporting of Allan’s resignation and crash, noting it was “different than it might have been a few years ago”.

She went on to tell the House, on behalf of the Greens, that the political commentary had set that back, including the call for an urgent debate.

Both Grant Robertson and Megan Woods kept their comments mostly to concern for Allan, while acknowledging her errors and how untenable it was for her to stay on as a minister.

As far as urgent debates go it was grim.

Much like Jacinda Ardern was once Labour’s biggest asset, Hipkins is heading into the 2023 election in the same position and that makes him vulnerable.

National and Act have been sucking up oxygen wherever they can find it this week, looking for a way to insert themselves into the story.

National leader Christopher Luxon has walked back comments he made on Monday evening when he told media, “Personally, I would have wanted some reassurance from a clinician or from someone that actually the individual is good to come back to work”.

On Tuesday morning he denied saying he was calling for a clinician to advise or sign off on a minister returning to work after mental health struggles, telling media, “No, I didn’t say that, I said I wanted some reassurance that they’re okay”.

Labour’s clearly going to be punished by some voters all on its own and doesn’t need help from the Opposition to achieve that – especially if that help leads to Luxon and Seymour creating their own negative headlines.

Some voters will have empathy for what has happened, some will see it solely as an Allan issue and not one the Prime Minister could have prevented.

For others it will be the final straw, and then there will be those who reserve their judgment and decide in October whether it’s a deal breaker or not.

This might cost Labour the election in the end, but it’s impossible to know that now when there is so much more water to go under the bridge.

Any number of gaffes, stuff-ups, or scandals could take place between now and when voting begins, and it’s not just Labour at risk of that.

Much like Jacinda Ardern was once Labour’s biggest asset, Hipkins is heading into the 2023 election in the same position and that makes him vulnerable.

The easiest way for National and Act to capitalise on Labour’s terrible run over recent weeks and months is to leave Hipkins out on his own being scrutinised by the media and political commentators for how he’s handled things.

Commenting on the regular only leaves Luxon and Seymour open to becoming the story themselves by not getting the tone right.

Yet, Luxon has pushed back on the suggestion that he’d be better off saying nothing, telling media it’s his job to hold the Government to account and Allan’s actions are a serious matter.

Both of those things are true, but with wall-to-wall coverage the public will judge Hipkins and Labour all on their own – they don’t need Seymour and Luxon explaining to them why the justice minister crashing a car and getting arrested is bad.

There are plenty of other Labour disasters to draw attention to that don’t have the complex backdrop of mental health to navigate and risk getting wrong.

Jo Moir is Newsroom's political editor.

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