Question Time at Parliament

I went to the first Question Time of the year at Parliament with Martin to sketch some politicos today. I haven’t there for years… the place reeks of tradition, but unfortunately once you enter you also feel completely cut off from the outside world. Inside the chamber it was like the first day of school, although things didn’t stay civil for long.

After a series of cringeworthy speeches praising the Queen for sixty years of successful self-perpetuation, it was on to the patsy questions and snark. We were seated in the Speaker’s Gallery near a party of Swedish politicians (who sensibly left after about twenty minutes) and I watched John Key with interest – I’ve never seen a man look so bored before. He slumped in his seat, grey-faced and rumpled, only appearing animated when bouncing up to answer a question with a contemptuous bark. The rest of the National front bench looked pretty much asleep (well, they’re not really needed, are they?) while the Labour members passed iPads back and forth (holiday photos?) and poked at smartphones.

The level of debate was not exactly high. The seats have microphones, which gives the hecklers an unfair advantage – there was someone I couldn’t see from Labour (Clayton Cosgrove?) who wouldn’t shut up. Paula Bennet absolutely demolished a poorly-phrased question from Jacinda Ardern, which doesn’t bode well for Labour’s future, especially when you consider the material National gives them to work with! It seems you can defend the indefensible, as long as you’re louder and better-briefed than the people who dare question you.

Overall, I think everyone should visit Parliament at least once, not just to see why things are in the state they’re currently in, but to see where things are headed.


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