Immediately following the opening prayer, John Key sought the call and was recognised by Speaker Lockwood Smith. What followed was a disgraceful display of dissent and disrespect to Parliament, to Members and to the Speaker. And it comes as no surprise that Rt Hon Winston Peters was right at the centre of it. The action (for want of a better word, although perhaps petulance might suffice) starts at about the 1:55 mark, and we wonder what the Speaker of the Cook Islands House of Representatives made of it all:
It is less than one year since the public returned Winston Peters and his team of MP's to Parliament. But in that year, Peters has managed to get himself sent from Parliament no less than three times by Lockwood Smith, in February, August and then again yesterday. Yesterday, Dr Smith twice threatened to name Peters after having ordered him to leave the Chamber, and following that, Peters continued to argue as he left the House. Lockwood Smith should have named Peters in our ever-hunble opinion, such was the level of his petulance and dissent.
So it begs the question; is it time for Parliament to have a Three Strikes Standing Order? Winston Peters' behaviour will not change as long as missing the remainder of a day's proceedings is the worst sanction he faces. He enjoys the notoriety of being Parliament's bad boy.
So how about the MP's on the Standing Orders Committee do something tangible and grade ejections from the House. The first could carry the same sanction as it currently does, a second ejection during a set time period or during the life of that Parliament could carry a longer suspension (two days, perhaps), and a third or subsequent ejection could mean that the MP is automatically named, and gives the House as a whole the opportunity to vote on the length of the suspension.
Winston Peters lost the plot yesterday, and his behavior brought no credit on him or his party colleagues. On the other hand, Trevor Mallard had the foresight to see all where this was heading, and left of his own accord before Dr Smith could kick him to touch.
Winston Peters is the most senior MP in the current Parliament. But yesterday he behaved like a spoiled child who didn't get his own way. It was one of the worst displays we have seen in our many years of watching Parliament, and it does Peters no credit whatsoever.