On The House
So this is it. The last post, if you like, from On the House.
It's been more than three years and 378 blog posts since the Stuff editor asked me to write a blog on politics, and it's been a hell of a ride.
When I first began writing this blog, an email went round all National Party MPs from Party Central, ordering them not to talk to me anymore. Apparently now that I was blogging I was A Risk.
Fortunately for me, and for this blog, party discipline has never been a long suit of the National Party, and its MPs by and large ignored the edict.
I'd also like to think that the fears some in Parliament held for my blog and the others that followed it - at least from the mainstream media end - have not come to pass.
12:02am: Well that's it for now. For the first time in many years Australians are heading off to bed without knowing who their new PM is. I'm not sure either, but certainly you'd have to say that Abbott thinks it's going to be him. I dunno who has first dibs on negotiating something, since really the two parties finished in an absolute dead heat.
But I can't help feeling that the momentum is with Abbott and the Liberals. They gained seats where Labor lost, they clearly won the campaign, and Abbott appears more confident he is in the driver's seat.
Whatever happens, a fascinating night.
12:00am: Ok a little bit of smug boasting coming in now. Abbott's just pointed out that Labor's result is the worst by any incumbent since World War Two. Incidentally this is also Australia's first hung parliament since World War Two.
Abbott's also had a crack at Gillard for rolling Rudd: "This election has to some extent been a referendum on the political execution of a prime minister.''
Dear oh dear. So two white, middle-aged, balding, barrel-chested men are in charge of the Act Party. How electorally appealing.
Heather Roy, the party's telegenic, approachable, moderate, rational, high-performing, clever, and female MP has been replaced as deputy leader and minister of the Crown by John Boscawen. What on earth was its caucus thinking?
Hmmmm let me think. It's because Boscawen will better connect with the female, upper-middle-income earners Act is chasing at the next election? Because Boscawen has a better track record as an MP? Because Act needs another middle-aged white man in charge?
Or is it because Rodney Hide perceived Roy to be a threat to his leadership, so stamped on the best - and possibly the only - thing Act still has going for it?
You can scream gender politics all you like, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that in a party dominated by aging grey males - Hide, Boscawen, Roger Douglas, and David Garrett are practically interchangeable - the youthful, energetic, female Roy stood out like the proverbial.
I reckon we should have a mini general election later this year.
Just think, why wait for next year? And why should those Aussie have all the fun? With the decision by Winnie Laban to head for a nice safe post in academia, the way is open for Chris Carter and Jim Anderton to call by-elections in their own electorates, too.
We could have a Super Tuesday-style tri-series, with three by-elections all on the same day. That would save the taxpayer money, and spark a lot of interest in politics leading up to the general election. It'd also be a sort of dry run for Phil Goff, too, and would allow his colleagues a better chance to assess his chances of winning - or in the immortal words of Don Brash, to lose less badly - the general election.
There's other advantages to a Super Saturday. With Carter being an Auckland MP, Laban a Wellingtonian and Anderton from Christchurch, we've got the majority of the country covered, so there'd be interest from national media across the board.
Labour's traditionally done pretty well in by-elections. Something about the grass-roots support the party is always able to call upon. And the Tories are usually too busy/important/rich to bother with them. Witness Melissa Lee's trouncing in Mt Albert. Parties from the Left have always given the Nats an almighty scare in by-elections. Think Selwyn, or even Taranaki-King Country.
"It's because I'm gay." Those four words haunted Labour MP Chris Carter's career in politics; the catch-all excuse for the sometimes extraordinarily vain and arrogant behaviour of the MP for Te Atatu.
Carter seemed to think the media's supposed obsession with his sexuality was the reason journalists pursued him down corridors.
In reality, reporters didn't give a hoot about which team Carter batted for. The story was always the Labour MP's erratic behaviour and often cavalier attitude to public money.
One might have thought that being banished to the back benches for refusing to show contrition over his ministerial credit card spending and excessive travel bills might have been sufficient to cool Carter's anger over his perceived mistreatment.
But in one of the most outlandish - and certainly the stupidest - acts I've seen in politics, Carter decided he needed to pen a note to the press gallery anonymously predicting leader Phil Goff's demise.
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