Since it's nearly time for On the House to adjourn for the year, I thought we should dish out a few awards from the performances of 2009.
Being a blog, this is interactive, so I'm assuming y'all will contribute your own thoughts on who did well and who didn't.
So without further ado, On the House's pollie awards are as follows:
Politician of the Year: It's fast becoming a cliche but I still can't go past Prime Minister John Key. It wasn't a faultless performance by any means, but he held the Government together well through a mixture of charm and the occasional stern word. Better than I and many other commentators expected, he's more popular now than when he took office, and after the worst recession in 60 years you can't argue with that.
Highly commendeds go to Justice Minister Simon Power, who powered through the work this year, Health Minister Tony Ryall, who got us through Swine Flu, and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, who navigated her party through some difficult times.
Idiot of the Year: ACT Leader Rodney Hide. Trashed his public credibility by claiming the perks he'd always railed against, big-noted to a journalist at an ACT function and denigrated his boss on more than one occasion. No wonder former president Sir Roger Douglas and Heather Roy tried to roll him.
Highly commended to Maori Party MP Hone Harawira. I've seen him nominated for worst peformer, but I don't think that's fair. Harawira did some dumb things, but you never doubted his sincerity. Plus he remains a rock star in his electorate.
Worst Performance by an MP: National backbencher Melissa Lee. Completely stuffed up the Mt Albert by-election campaign, embarrassed herself and her party, wrecked her chances of promotion, still under a cloud over funding received by her film company during the last election campaign.
Highly commended to Labour's Ashraf Choudhary, who appears to have done absolutely nothing but eat his lunch. Again.
Loser of the Year: Has to be former minister Richard Worth. Lost his job in a witch hunt and his reputation got trashed without ever being found to have done anything illegal. Tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion for little more than being an aging Lothario.
Backbencher of the Year: Labour's Jacinda Ardern. She's smart, she's good in the House, she can deliver a decent speech and says what she believes. A rising star for Labour.
Highly commended: National's Nikki Kaye. A close second, Kaye has concentrated on shoring up Auckland Central for National. Took on one of her own ministers over the preservation of some trees in her electorate and won.
Most Improved MP: Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee. Put to rest accusations of a low work rate who wasn't the sharpest tack in the pack. On top of his portfolio and a canny political strategist to boot.
Highly commended: Transport Minister Steven Joyce. Straight into Cabinet, and didn't put a foot wrong.
Least Improved MP: Finance Minister Bill English. 2009 should have been his year, but he lost the moral high ground established in the Budget over the silly housing allowance claims he made on his Karori home.
Begrudging MP Who's Annoying But You Have To Respect Them MP: ACT's John Boscawen. Painful but always on-message. You might not agree with his somewhat extreme views, but he's not afraid to voice them at every opportunity. Doesn't suffer his leader's vanity.
Simply Most Annoying MP Without Redeeming Qualities: Labour's Chris Carter. Not only did he do nothing, he complained like mad when the media fingered him for spending thousands of taxpayer dollars flying him and his partner around the world. Even pulled the "it's because I'm gay'' line. Acted like a prima donna. Annoyed the public, infuriated his colleagues.
The I-Told-You-So Award for proving the media wrong: This also goes to Key. He said the economy would improve faster than we thought and he was right. He said Copenhagen would be a failure and it wasn't worth going and he was right about that too. He said the Reserve Bank would continue to cut interest rates and he was ... well, two out of three ain't bad.
Those are the major ones, I think. Feel free to add your own.
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