Twelve Questions: Trevor Mallard

Longtime Labour MP Trevor Mallard is one of Parliament's last remaining renegades - being thrown out during question time with some regularity and remembered for his 2007 punch-up with National MP Tau Henare. He won't discuss family matters but says he has never had a temper problem

Trevor Mallard says any ambitions for leadership died after time spent with David Lange in 1986 when he was being hounded about his eating habits.
Trevor Mallard says any ambitions for leadership died after time spent with David Lange in 1986 when he was being hounded about his eating habits.

1. What's the best insult you've heard hurled in the House?

Richard Prebble to an under-the-weather Robert Muldoon: "The member appears to be able to stand or speak - but not both at the same time."

2. What's the best you've had aimed at you?

Winston Peters once described me as a dog with a cleft palate. I think it referred to the way I look and I occasionally have enunciation problems. That's caused by losing four front teeth and part of my jaw which dropped out playing cricket in the 5th form.

3. Do you believe yesterday's polls, which had Labour and David Shearer losing points against National?

Umm, well, polls are polls. They go up and down all over the place and they have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 or 4 per cent. On the basis of one individual poll I accept the volatility that moves them around. Having said that, I have been door-knocking in the Ikaroa- Rawhiti electorate for much of the past week and I'd be surprised if our candidate doesn't get double the votes of the next person behind her.

4. Have you ever had leadership aspirations of your own?

I spent some time with David Lange in '86 when he was being hounded by the media about his eating habits and it become apparent to me at that point that the Prime Minister had no real privacy or even really a life and any ambition I had as a backbencher disappeared. Being Leader of the Opposition is even worse. You have a lot of scrutiny but you don't get to do the work that makes it a real job.

5. Which National Party politician do you respect or like most?
Simon Power. I found him to be thoughtful and principled, and he reached across the House for support in an attempt to get enduring solutions. Of the current National MPs, I find Chris Auchinvole hardworking and underrated. Relations with Tau? We tease each other a bit inside and outside of the House. I give him a hard time every time a new National member leapfrogs him to become a minister. I don't think John Key appreciates Tau and I commiserate with him every now and again.

6. Do you have a temper problem?

I don't think I ever did have temper issues. Clearly there have been occasions ... where things have got out of control but that [the Tau scuffle] was testosterone running rather than either of us losing it. There's no doubt there's a degree of posturing that goes on in Parliament and I'm not immune from it. But there are very, very few people who know when I have seriously lost my temper.

7. What's your best door-knocking story?

During the Mana byelection a mother took me into her son's room to enrol him and we found him playing some interactive porn game - with a joystick in each hand.

8. Describe your childhood in Wainuiomata?

Wainuiomata was a great place to live. It was semi-rural at the time, with farmland within 200 metres of home. There were kids in every home, and we used to play as a giant pack between each other's homes, the massive trees, the parks and the farms. There was also a big range of families attracted to the cheap houses financed by State Advances. The future Asia Pacific chief executive of General Motors lived on one side of our house and one of the very successful builders on the other. It was, however, relatively mono-cultural before the Ngati Porou and Pasifika inward migrations.

9. How will you spend your retirement?

I remind people that my predecessor in the Hutt, Walter Nash, served the electorate until he was 86. By that measure, I'm around the mid-point of my career and not contemplating retirement.

10. What do you think about Judith Collins' recent Twitter conversion?

Notwithstanding my view that she will be the next National leader, I don't follow Judith Collins on Twitter (or any other way if I can help it), so I'm not sure how she is going. I don't follow many National MPs because I have trouble differentiating between the real and the parody accounts.

11. Do female Gallery journalists have daddy issues?

I don't know what daddy issues are.

12. You've made it clear you'd like to be Speaker one day: isn't that like the expelled schoolboy being made head boy?

Sometimes the best gamekeepers have poaching experience.

- NZ Herald

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