Brownlee's joke misses the mark

MICHAEL WRIGHT AND MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2012

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Gerry Brownlee might be a Simpsons fan but it appears his parliamentary colleagues are not.

On Thursday, the Transport Minister faced some tough questions in the House from Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford on funding options for Auckland transport development.

With a deadpan delivery worthy of fictional Springfield mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby, Brownlee quipped that Labour's criticisms were "rather silly" and observed: "I would consider hiring Lyle Langley and Associates to do a scoping study for us on the city rail link.

"I know they have done some very good work on similar projects in Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook and if [Labour] think this stacks up we'll give it some consideration further."

Simpsons aficionados will note Brownlee's reference to the episode when the perennially gullible Springfield townsfolk are duped into spending newfound money on a faulty monorail network.

Lyle Langley, himself a parody of musical character Harold Hill from The Music Man, is the smooth-talking conman who convinces Springfielders the project is a good idea.

Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook are other towns Langley put "on the map" with equally dodgy monorail systems.

Marge Simpson was the only person sceptical of Langley in the episode Marge vs the Monorail.

Relying only partly on notes, Brownlee delivered the line well, but the joke seemed to miss the target.

No-one laughed.

Speaker Lockwood Smith quickly moved on to the next tabled question.

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