Emotions ran high after a man tried to jump from the public gallery to the floor of the House yesterday afternoon. It was a moment of high drama, and in its aftermath there was an exchange which did no-one any credit. Insults flew across the floor of the House in a moment of considerable disorder. We're sure that a number of Honourable Members including the Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition's Junior Whip will be reflecting on the incident, and their reaction to it. Things are said and done in the heat of the moment which are later regretted; something we know only too well.
Ironically, the 49th Parliament has been one of the better behaved of our memory, and we put that down to two things. Firstly, Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith has been an outstanding Speaker; probably the best in the time in which we have been actively interested in politics. He has an obvious passion for the institution of Parliament, and significantly, one of his first acts as Speaker was to reintroduce the procession into the House each day so that the Speaker entered via public areas and not through a private corridor. That was a small but important acknowledgment that MP's are the servants of the people who elect them. Dr Smith has also tried hard to make Question Time more useful, and require Ministers to answer questions, and for that he deserves credit.
The second aspect has been the absence of Winston Peters. The NZ First leader had an inate ability to incite disorder in the House, especially via the use of frivolous points of order. Parliament has been more orderly for Peters' absence.
So here's a song for our MP's as the 49th Parliament is dissolved this afternoon:
School is indeed out; until the summer, at least. And for some today, school's out for ever. Some will know that, and have said their last hurrahs; others will become casualities of that odd thing we call democracy.