OPINION: He may be out, but Brendan Horan's not down, to judge from his nifty gatecrashing of his former leader's grandstanding in Parliament yesterday.
It's not everyone who can muscle in on NZ First leader Winston Peters' limelight and escape without a bloody nose. But Mr Horan, sacked from the caucus last week over financial allegations, has, after all, learnt at the feet of the master.
Mr Peters was grilling Prime Minister John Key about the relaxation of entry criteria for Chinese tourists who fly with a particular airline - a controversial deal, aimed at encouraging longer stays by wealthy Chinese visitors.
Mr Key was making Mr Peters extremely crotchety by defending the positive discrimination, saying such visitors were unlikely to become overstayers because, having come such a long way, they had already demonstrated they probably had the means to get home. They would probably be frequent fliers and as such, "high-class individuals", he said, stoking Mr Peters' ire further.
Mr Peters then had the obligatory point-of-order row with Speaker Lockwood Smith about whether Mr Key had properly answered his questions, and Mr Key added opacity to injury by saying he was only repeating what the immigration minister had told him, "and I've got no reason to deny that it's incorrect".
Mr Peters was by now at steam-emitting pitch, when Mr Horan rose to ask a question from his new seat at the back of the chamber.
"Does the prime minister agree that natural justice and due process are relevant in the administration of the Immigration Act?" he asked - a clear reference to his dismissal from caucus despite the financial allegations against him not having been proved.
Mr Peters could only mutter in his seat as Mr Key agreed, saying it was important to be consistent. This could be challenging when dealing with 171,000 visas for visitors, he said. "But when it is one of eight, you would think you would get it right," he added, referring to the erstwhile size of the NZ First caucus.
"You mean like you got it right with John Banks?" Mr Peters snapped back, a retort aimed at Mr Key's refusal to sack a minister after financial allegations.
Dr Smith intervened to restore order at that point, but Mr Horan had the beaming satisfaction of being the cause of much smouldering and snarling by his ex-boss.
- The Dominion Post