Last week during the swearing in of the new Parliamentary Speaker, an affable back-bencher I doubt few New Zealanders had heard of, the Act leader mis-used the occasion to launch a grossly distasteful attack on Trevor Mallard’s appointment as our ambassador to Ireland.
The mood of the occasion was one of congratulations and good-will towards the new chap Adrian Rurawhe, thus Seymour’s outburst was utterly inappropriate and left a poor taste.
As it transpired the new Speaker had to pull up Gaurav Sharma who also tried to use the occasion to attack Mallard who correctly as events have proved, when consulted by the MP for advise, had suggested a low key talking-it-out approach to his problem rather than declaring war on his Party. This Mallard wisely warned, would inevitably lead to his rejection from the Party.
Mallard has come in for a lot of misplaced criticism this year.
First, for his amusing attempts to dislodge the law-breaking mob who besieged Parliament earlier this year, by turning on the sprinklers. The management of Parliament is the Speaker’s task, and he was right to try to dislodge the mob, moreso given the weak-kneed approach by the Police Commissioner.
At the time the protesters were being presented by the media as noble and virtuous, albeit certainly no longer. Their willful damage has cost taxpayers over a million dollars. They were largely an unsavoury rag tag collection of trouble-maker losers and if you doubt that, read Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson’s account in Sunday’s NZ Herald. “Alarming, violent and confronting” she said and spelled out why. So as it transpired Mallard’s approach has been proven correct.
Trevor Mallard has given nearly four decades of public service in Parliament, in a wider range of roles. For those seeking his help he has always gone out of his way, as numerous folk could testify.
He could be faulted as Speaker for at times being too school-masterly vis a vis the rules, and it is that which upset some MPs. The government is doomed to a landslide defeat thus in a year’s time Parliamentary veteran, former Canterbury pole-vaulting champion Gerry Brownlee will become Speaker.
As with Trevor, Gerry’s an affable bloke, but, as a veteran MP he knows the rules inside out and thus should be careful not to become too pedantic but instead look the other way at times.
Periodic Parliamentary uproars provide a welcome safety valve release from both the pressure-cooker environment or alternatively, the tedium the chamber can sometimes lapse into.
That said, Stuff’s two senior political journalists, at the height of the criticism, both independently pointed out that on most counts Mallard’s been a very good Speaker.
So what of his appointment as our man in Dublin? In my view it’s excellent.
For nigh on half a century my company has been the principal office-space supplier to the 60 or so embassies in Wellington. They come to us on the recommendation of other embassies.
Some such as the Russians, Thais, Chinese and Americans have their own premises but most lease, largely from us.
Over that half century I can say this. With only a couple of exceptions, by a country mile the ambassadors leaving the best impressions in the capital have always been ex-politicians.
A final comment is to note that following Seymour’s distasteful outburst, Stuff’s Political editor Luke Malpass wrote a lengthy article in Mallard’s defence, headed “Mallard will make a Good Ambassador” as I have no doubt he will.
More surprising was right-wing Kiwi blog editor David Faraar who also wrote a substantial article praising both Mallard and his diplomatic appointment.
David Seymour should learn from the Nats leader Christopher Luxon that there’s a time and place for everything, including occasions in which to put aside politics. Luxon refused to play this silly game and launch into Mallard on what was a celebratory occasion.
A final point. Hopefully Trevor will be Sir Trevor in the New Year honours. Trust me, he’s earnt it.