Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Barry mocked for childless snipe

Maggie Barry has spoken in Parliament about many topics, including the law of the sea and the domestic purposes benefit - with no suggestion that she has any personal experience in those areas. Picture / Greg Bowker.
Maggie Barry has spoken in Parliament about many topics, including the law of the sea and the domestic purposes benefit - with no suggestion that she has any personal experience in those areas. Picture / Greg Bowker.

National MP Maggie Barry's suggestion that a childless Jacinda Ardern can't speak with authority on child laws has been ridiculed on social media.

On Wednesday, in a debate on extending paid parental leave to six months, Ms Barry asked the Labour MP, "How many kids do you have?" and later added: "Don't be so precious, petal."

The comments were mocked on social media, with Twitter users applying Ms Barry's logic to other areas - including whether only the former TV gardening host could talk with authority on an invasion by triffids.

A look at Ms Barry's speaking record in Parliament shows she does not always hold herself to the same standard she applied to Ms Ardern.

She has spoken about covered bonds, Treaty of Waitangi clauses, building regulations, the law of the sea and the domestic purposes benefit - with no suggestion of personal experience in those areas.

The North Shore MP spoke about graffiti in Hutt City, likening it to a dog marking its turf.

She also gave a speech about sewage disposal in Tauranga.

At a stretch, Ms Barry was possibly qualified to hold a view on Easter trading hours because gardening centres were one of the exceptions to trading rules.

The Aucklander also spoke about visitor levies at Stewart Island - saying she had been there once.

However, the transcripts also show Ms Barry's snipes at Labour are not one-sided. Labour MPs call her "Queen Margaret" and refer in somewhat disparaging terms to her expertise at gardening.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove has suggested she "go on gardening leave", adding, "You will be far more qualified for that than you are in this House with your contributions."

Ms Barry's arch-nemesis, NZ First MP Andrew Williams, also referred to gardening, saying his background in local government gave him "a little bit of knowledge, rather than those who concentrate on gardening activities".

Yesterday, Ms Ardern, 32, said she did not expect an apology from Ms Barry, and rejected any suggestion that she was not qualified to talk about paid parental leave because she had no children. "I haven't been to Antarctica but I know it's cold," she said.

Ms Barry did not respond to calls yesterday but a statement said Ms Ardern had treated it as a light-hearted remark.

"Neither of us will be losing any sleep over this and have both moved on to bigger issues."

TWEETS

Twitter users mocked Maggie Barry (and others) mercilessly under the hashtag #maggiebarrystandingorders Here are some of the best ...

* Only MPs named Sarah can talk about CERA - @richirvine

* Only Winston can talk about scotch and racehorses - @yakmoose

* MPs must live on the minimum wage to set the minimum wage - @richardhills777

* We've got a problem, no one can talk about zombies since Roger Douglas left - @CEMerriman

* Only Maggie is allowed to discuss the triffid problem - @CEMerriman

* Sadly, as a woodwork teacher Gerry IS allowed to supervise the rebuild. Sorry, Christchurch - @mattpnz

* Only those who have hosted both a gardening show and @ninetonoon can comment on Maggie Barry - @RupertTheBeer

* Was going to tweet on the Syrian crisis but as I'm not a murderous dictator I don't feel qualified to comment - @A_Gaayathri

- NZ Herald

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