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The Wellington Company

Green Maiden in Distress

who are the people in your neighbourhood?

The retirement of Michael Cullen is a huge loss in terms of Parliament’s tradition of great humorists. Arguably he was the funniest MP in our history although some would claim the honour belongs to David Lange. But Lange’s most famous witticisms largely occurred outside of the debating chamber.

My favourite Cullenism occurred following one of Winston Peter’s notorious late-night incidents in which he was alleged to have punched an Indian taxi-driver. Not long afterwards Winston was in full rant in the House about migrants coming here with alien cultures. “Point of Order,” Cullen interrupted. “I do not see why Chinese migrants should be obliged to indulge in fisticuffs in Courtenay Place so as to satisfy the member’s cultural requirements”.

One thing about Winston, he could always laugh at himself as indeed he did on this occasion.

Yet Cullen’s accomplished Parliamentary career got off to a dreadful start with his maiden speech. Foolishly, he bragged of receiving a private education via scholarships by “ripping off” wealthy donors. Pouring scorn on their generosity left a shocking impression and he was widely condemned in newspapers across the land. At that juncture no-one would have picked the success which lay ahead of him.

I mention that in the context of another maiden speech which is currently being widely circulated around the capital. I was shown a copy by a Government Departmental Head and interested readers can Google “New Zealand Parliament Hansard, maiden speech of Catherine Delahunty” which was delivered on the 11th February of this year. Distressing though it is, believe me it’s worth the trouble.

Delahunty is a new Green MP. After a lifetime of obsessive reading of tens of many thousands of books, articles, magazines and what have you, I do not believe I have ever encountered such overwhelming tosh which any reasonable person would dismiss as the product of a deranged adolescent.

There’s something dreadfully wrong with our system if such a person can become a legislator, paid for by taxpayers. More to the point, it says a great deal about the Greens if she is the best they can produce.

Not long after the selection of Russel Norman as the Greens joint leader I watched him being interviewed on television. The interviewer took a poke at his Party’s wet imagery, citing folk-dancing.

Norman looked genuinely puzzled. “What’s all this folk-dancing nonsense?” he queried, seemingly unaware of the Party’s much ridiculed Annual Conference some years ago when scrawny bearded men and plain women delegates were shown on television whirling about folk-dancing. I honestly believe that incident set them back for years. On the basis of the astonishing gibberish spouted by Delahunty, unless suppressed she is surely another potential time-bomb for her Party.

If one wanted to wipe the Greens off the political map, and I personally don’t, then a nationwide household delivery prior to the next election of copies of the Delahunty maiden address, would achieve that in one blow. God only knows what Russel Norman must have felt when he heard it delivered.

Whatever attributes Delahunty may have, they clearly have no place in our legislature. In the interim, if you haven’t already read it for as I said, it’s being widely circulated, then check out her maiden address and weep in despair. In saying all of that I’m mindful of Rob Muldoon’s counsel when I once protested to him about the wetness of a particular National candidate.

Rob, doubtless correctly, reminded me that Parliament is the House of Representatives and observed that a Parliament of geniuses would be a disservice to the nation. Such people, he asserted, see and experience the world quite differently from common folk and accordingly lack the all-important touch and sensitivity to everyday concerns. More to the point, he argued that the wider range of members’ backgrounds, the better the Parliament.

But there’s a limit. What, I wonder, would he have made of the Delahunty maiden address vis a vis his general observation re the merits of hearing all voices. I have no doubt he would have drawn a line there and instead his intense political tribalism would have come to the fore.

I can hear him now; that famous cackle and then, “Bye bye the Green Party”.

Bob Jones

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