Thursday, May 12, 2005

*scrittle* *scrittle* *SPLASH!* *paddle* *paddle*

Helen Clark was absent from Parliament today. Normally Michael Cullen stands in for her during Question Time but he was also absent today which I can't recall happening before. As a result Parliament was treated to the rare spectacle of Phil Goff answering questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. If Michael is refusing to stick around for Helen anymore then this state of affairs will become more common in the near future.

A side-effect of Phil's pathetic eagerness to hog the parliamentary limelight was that George Hawkins persuaded him to answer questions on his behalf while George could avoid exposing his ineptitude about the police 111 review. Consequently Phil answered questions on behalf of Helen about her "confidence" in George Hawkins (whatever the confidence is for, it certainly isn't for competence in the job) and also answered questions for George about his confidence in the Police Commissioner!

Another curious absence during Question Time was Annette King; answering questions on her behalf was the obscure Mita Ririnui. Why Annette didn't front up is also a mystery as the questions asked didn't seem to be very tough. I suspect NZ First has a physiotherapy scandal up its sleeve.

On the other hand, David Benson-Pope is probably regretting his decision not to follow George's example after he was ambushed with lurid allegations that he abused secondary school students with tennis balls. Throwing tennis balls at students talking in class is bad enough but sticking balls in student's mouths while tying their hands together is, if true, grounds for resignation and prosecution. However the allegations have apparently been floating around parliament for months (according to a semi-coherent Jill Pettis, senior government whip). In such circumstances, a good test of the veracity of the allegations would be whether more than one student makes them.