OPINION: The Opposition likes to tease the youthful-looking Simon Bridges in Parliament by pretending to not believe he has been promoted to the Cabinet - on the grounds that he's barely out of short pants.
So when yesterday he struggled to make himself heard answering questions as associate transport minister, Labour MPs suggested the technicians had not turned his microphone on because they did not believe young junior could possibly be a minister, either.
“That was not helpful,” the Speaker, Lockwood Smith, said, and motioned Mr Bridges to continue. Accustomed to getting stick, Mr Bridges made The Matrix “bring it on” gesture and tried gamely to continue. But Opposition mirth at his new rules for “droivers' loicences” for jet boats drowned him out.
“I say to members, I'm getting serious now!” Dr Smith warned. But he, too, was met with hilarity, because as usual his face was dominated by a ginormous smile - which proceeded to engulf his face as he realised that he was not being taken remotely seriously. “Well, as serious as I can get,” he said abashedly, before being overwhelmed with giggles.
Labour's Trevor Mallard also struggled to keep a straight face as he raised a point of order. Based on the obvious doubt that could be raised over the veracity of Dr Smith's claim that he was “getting serious”, Mr Mallard was worried there might be a breach of privilege complaint laid - it being a serious offence to mislead the House. “Can I have an assurance that any breach of privilege laid . . . won't be considered by you?”
Dr Smith was having a goofy day generally. During an education question exchange, he became frustrated with the level of noise and the opacity of some of the questions, and exclaimed, “There must be something wrong with the Speaker's ears!”
“Aw, they're not your worst feature!” chorused Labour MPs. “There are options, including plastic surgery,” suggested Labour deputy Grant Robertson.
“Well. . .” Dr Smith faltered, again abashed, and conceded, “There is something wrong with the Speaker's ears, I accept that absolutely.”
“They look good from here!” said National's Craig Foss gallantly.
“Turn sideways and we'll have a look through!” suggested Mr Mallard, ungallantly.
“I asked for that, didn't I?” Dr Smith said, and succumbed to giggles again.
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