OPINION: Parliament is an institution founded on ancient traditions, but it's a while since it tried to start a new one. It is by no means certain yesterday's Come to the House Dressed Like Tony Ryall Day will catch on.
In honour of the adventurous shirt-and-tie combos of the departing health minister, who made his valedictory speech yesterday, the National caucus rummaged for its loudest ties - and in some cases, its most gangsterish shirts.
Winner on points was junior whip Tim MacIndoe, who affected giant polka dots on clashing checks, and an orange plastic gerbera buttonhole. Energy Minister Simon Bridges ran him close with his tribute of a pink retro floral wallpaper number, strobing from a sinister dark shirt.
Beside him, Nathan Guy smouldered with a frontispiece of what looked like radioactive tamarillos. Chief Whip Louise Upston and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett also wore ties.
It was a well-meant homage, if not a strictly accurate one. No-one came close to capturing Ryall's Italian tablecloth gingham oeuvre for shirts, or his quarrel-with-everything-and-make-the-television-picture-all-wriggly stripy tie statements.
Wisely, frontbench MPs didn't even attempt it - not even, curiously, Ryall himself, who confoundingly wore an unexceptional apricot tie and a militantly non-clashing white shirt.
He did, however, preface an answer to some health questions with, "Can I first just note that the standard of dress on this side of the House has vastly improved."
Winston Peters prefaced his next question with, "Can I just note looking at that side of the House that you can have lots of money, but no class."
If a tradition is indeed born from this, more should rightly follow. The House has many characters besides Ryall, and it's easy to imagine, for instance, a Talk Like Winston Day, in which MPs prefaced every sentence with a belligerent "Point-of-order-Mister-Speaker!" Or a Smile Like Judith Day, in which people shot ‘Crusher' Collins' beady "I'll-rip-your-throat-out" grimaces at one another. There could be a Nitpick Like Trevor Day, in which, just for fun, everyone put pegs on their noses and talked very slowly.
However, it's safe to say there will never be a Do Your Hair Like Peter Dunne Day, a Party Like Aaron Gilmore Day or a Shane Jones Retrospective Film Festival at Parliament.
- The Dominion Post
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