Devil beasts and fruit loops, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson and game show hosts all made guest appearances in the Budget debate yesterday, but all found themselves upstaged by a humble fake mouse.
Labour leader David Shearer began the metaphorical carry-on in the Budget debate, describing it as a "blackjack Budget in which Bill English holds all the cards".
He said National had become "a game show Government" with productions including the Fire Sale of the Century in which everything from energy companies to gambling licences were up for sale, Deal or No Deal featuring the SkyCity convention centre, and the Wheel of Misfortune.
"Someone should give John Key a vowel, because his Government is O for awful."
Key rose to the challenge of Shearer's bid to outlast, and, most annoyingly, outwit him, by shooting back that watching Shearer's speech had been "a bit like watching My Sky on half-speed.
I found myself desperate to change the channel".
He said the Opposition itself had embraced the mixed-ownership model: "The Labour Party is 51 per cent owned by Labour and 49 per cent owned by the Greens. They have come together in this happy little place where fruit meets loop."
He went on to draw from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, saying although Sherlock Shearer and his offsider Dr Norman believed Finance Minister Bill English was the "devil-beast" that stalked the moors, English's ambition was to build houses on the moors for first-home buyers. "The devil-beast is the Opposition, not the Minister of Finance."
There was an intermission from Green co-leader Russel Norman, who went on at length about economic deficits, social deficits and environmental deficits.
But then it was back to the fun with NZ First's Winston Peters, who whipped out a pink treadmill with a fake rodent in it and began spinning it with enthusiasm to illustrate his own attempt to name the Budget as the 'treadmill Budget".
He spun it round every time he mentioned a rodent-related metaphor. "The Government's fat cat mates!" he bellowed, and round it went. "Crumbs thrown to the mice!" he thundered, and round it went. So the day ended, with a surplus as crumbly as well-aged cheddar and one very dizzy stuffed mouse.