Day in day out, or some weeks from Tuesday to Thursday, at least, our parliamentarians gather en masse, or about 20 of them usually, to debate matters of state in the House of Representatives. From time to time The Spinoff intends to recognise these oratorical contributions with the award of the Spinoff Golden Gob.
Drawn from the last month or so, here are the gifts of the Gobs.
The first runner-up in the inaugural Spinoff Golden Gob awards ceremony is Sarah Dowie, National MP for Invercargill, who was rostered on for a busy night in the house, giving numerous speeches, culminating in this, about passports:
“Of course I rise in support of the Passports Amendment Bill (No 2). I think that for half past nine at night on a Tuesday this is actually quite exciting, because there is nothing worse than having to renew a passport after five years and having to go through overly complicated bureaucracy to do so. So 10 years will, of course, be well received. Kiwis are well known for flying, even though, technically, the bird itself does not fly. But we fly. We love to travel, and it will be wonderful to have a 10-year validity period for our passports, and to be able to travel for extensive periods if desired without having to turn round and renew a passport and go through all of that documentation process again and again and again …
“To travel on a New Zealand passport is revered. We are well respected overseas, and it is certainly something that I experienced as a traveller on my OE several years ago. We will not mention how many years ago that was.”
Chris Bishop MP interjects: “Where did you go?”
“Well, I based myself in Britain, Mr Bishop, with my now husband, who was a professional cricketer for Wimbledon. We travelled extensively around Britain and around Europe, and the passport was very well received in the EU, especially in some of the more obscure countries, you could say. We are well known, and well known for our compassion as a country and as a civilised country …
“This is a wonderful bill. I cannot wait to have a 10-year passport myself. Unfortunately, I did have to renew mine prior to this bill coming into force, so I will have to put up with a 5-year [passport] … But one day I will have a 10-year passport in my hot little hand and I will be able to roam throughout the world for an extended period and take in the culture that the world has to offer.
“Because it is such a positive bill, we are bringing the commencement date forward by a month because everybody is so excited. I think it is wonderful to finally get to this stage, and for half past nine at night I think it is a fantastic way to end my time speaking tonight.”
The second runner-up in the inaugural contest for the Spinoff Golden Gob is Clayton Mitchell, the New Zealand First MP who as it happens was also speaking during a reading of the very same epochal passport term legislation:
“I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to join in the fanfare of entertainment this evening and to actually put New Zealand First’s voice out there to say we also show solidarity and a parliamentary collegiality in support of this fantastic outcome. Those are a whole bunch of big words, I will tell you right now. They are not as big as the biggest word I know, I have to say, which is, of course, a Māori word, but we do not even need to go there today.”
Meka Whaitiri MP interjects: “Say it, say it, say it.”
“Well, why not? For the sake of the spirit of tonight and it being 10 minutes until 10, Taumatawhakatangihangakōauauōtamateapōkaiwhenuakitanatahu is actually the longest word in the world, at 72 letters long, but I just thought I would run that off, just with big words.
“I have to say I very much enjoyed the speech tonight by Mr Cunliffe. It was very entertaining. It was sort of fun and sort of provocative at the same time. It reminded me of watching three frogs in a sock and, of course, that can be very entertaining. Conversely, on the other side, we had a speech that could actually turn a good bill into something horrid and morbid. Of course, Mr Hudson — I do not know — you have just got this ability to turn something good into something so bad. When you ‘monologued’ to us this evening it just about made me put my head in my soup. But anyway, we diverge.”
But the winner of this inaugural Spinoff Golden Gob goes to one of the Big Beasts of parliament, Mr Steven Joyce, and his point of order responding to Tracey Martin’s suggestions he had used the term “sweet pea”. Here it is:
“I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just feel the need to respond to the comments from colleague on the other side of the House because she is incorrect and she has misheard. I think, for the benefit of the House, I would like to make the point that the comment I actually made was in reference to Mr Mark and it was ‘sweary bear’. That was what I was saying, which I have said before. So please—I did not make the comment that Tracey suggests I did.”
More Golden Gobs will be handed out in due course. All submissions gratefully received.