MP tweeting - or napping - during taxing talk

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2013
Parliament TV

Attorney-general Chris Finlayson appears to fall asleep during a session of Parliament.

Minister for Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson

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Parliament might have been in urgency over the weekend, but there was nothing quick about Chris Finlayson's response to jibes he had fallen asleep.

The attorney-general appeared to be slumping and snoozing as MPs argued about an increase in petrol tax on Saturday afternoon.

Labour's deputy leader Grant Robertson first noticed the minister's lack of attention as he debated the finer points of the Customs and Excise (Budget Measures – Motor Spirits) Amendment Bill – Committee Stage – Part 2 (2).

Robertson could be seen leaning over and peering at the National MP.

"I'm just checking on the attorney-general's wellbeing over there," he said, interrupting his speech.

"Perhaps, not so great at the moment?

"He's gone. He's completely gone. That's terrific."

At that point, National's Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross can be seen trying to get the minister's attention.

Finlayson then lifts his head, to cheers from fellow MPs.

"Oh, there he is. Very good," Robertson continues.

A spokesman for Finlayson denied the attorney-general was asleep, saying he had been checking Twitter and ignoring Robertson.

On Friday, Finlayson, who is also Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, took exception to Robertson's comments about Budget cuts in the arts and culture sector.

He went on a Twitter spree, using the hashtag #goldenage, to outline a series of positive initiatives.

Parliament went into urgency on Thursday to pass a series of Budget-related bills. It saw MPs debating late into the night on Thursday and Friday, finally finishing on Saturday evening.

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