Parliament ends with small bangs and whimpers

The 48th Parliament has come to an end with a few small bangs and some whimpers as well.

The adjournment motion debate today was the last chance for MPs to speak in this term and they will now head out on the campaign trail ahead of the November 8 election.

It was also the last opportunity for MPs to drop any defamatory material under the cover of parliamentary privilege.

This time there were no political "neutron bombs" though New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters continued to lob a few grenades at ACT's use of trusts to funnel donations.

There was much political rhetoric thrown around the House as both Labour and National predicted each other's demise during the election campaign.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen's speech started off quietly, outlining the achievements of the Government and the heavy weather facing the economy.

It was nine minutes before the heckling rose in volume as Dr Cullen turned his tongue on National leader John Key saying Mr Key could not maintain a position for two seconds.

He predicted that Mr Key would trip up on the campaign trail and expose National's true agenda.

Labour's barrage against Mr Key began within seconds of his speech in reply, saying the Government began and ended this term embroiled in scandal.

He accused Dr Cullen of leading New Zealand into recession and said National believed in tax cuts as an economic policy not a political one.

Mr Key said Prime Minister Helen Clark had led a "government of failure" and New Zealanders would turn to his party to lead the way forward.

Mr Peters said National had done nothing in the last three years waiting for the Government to collapse and it had not.

He and New Zealand First had experience a "tumultuous" three months, battling "forces out there working day and night".

Mr Peters said New Zealanders would flock to his party as they knew the media were out to get him.

In particular he predicted "tens of thousands" of Maori had changed their minds and "would be coming home".

A few speeches later retiring Speaker Margaret Wilson brought the adjournment debate to a close, ending the 48th Parliament.

Parliament is likely to resume in late November or early in December depending on the election result and how difficult it is to form a government.

- NZPA

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