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

Silver linings and 'poor man's Trump' feature in Parliament's congratulations

Winston Peters stares down a golf cart in the Northland electorate. Photo / Greg Bowker
Winston Peters stares down a golf cart in the Northland electorate. Photo / Greg Bowker

Parliament was supposed to be congratulating Donald Trump for his win in the US elections, but it was too much for some and NZ First leader Winston Peters was too busy congratulating himself instead.

The Government put up a motion in Parliament to congratulate Trump as the President Elect in the United States.

Only the the Green MPs opposed it, but others struggled to muster enthusiasm for the job at hand.

Even National minister Steven Joyce managed to avoid directly congratulating Trump beyond reading the formal words of the motion.

Instead he rattled off all the interests New Zealand and the United States had in common, such as the Ross Sea and (rather optimistically now) a belief in free markets and trade.

He wound up with a tribute to President Barack Obama rather than Trump.

Labour's Annette King managed to squeak out a congratulations but made it clear that was from necessity:

"In the Labour Party we do value our relations with the United States and we are committed to continuing those relationships, while at the same time making it clear that we will speak out against bigotry, racism, misogyny, or hate whenever and wherever we see it."

Such motions are usually passed unanimously, but there are limits. Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei did not bother with the niceties at all.

"We vow to fight the climate change denial, the misogyny, and the racism represented by Trump. We will not let hate triumph."

Peters' was too busy gloating about being right to extend his congratulations to Trump.

He pointed to his prediction Trump would win and set about casting himself - a politician for 38 years - as the anti-establishment figure of New Zealand.

He spoke of his fellow MPs as "sneering and scoffing", as "arrogant and up themselves".

He spoke in the patois of the working people he claimed to represent, talking of "elitist neo-liberal mammonic curtains" collapsing from Kaitaia to Lerwick to Louisiana.

On and on he went, reaching a pinnacle when he appeared to claim his Northland byelection win was the trigger of a global phenomenon which delivered Brexit in the UK and Trump in the USA.

He ended with a message for the voters: "One party, uniquely, has these three words: we hear you."

When he finally stopped, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox observed she too had three words for him: "pot, kettle and black."

Turning to the task at hand, she admitted she found it difficult to congratulate Trump but would do so.

"I like to see the silver lining around the clouds. As I look to America, I think: "Well, you know what? The brick layers are going to be happy and the concrete merchants will be happy, because they will be building a wall very soon to keep Americans in."

Act leader David Seymour delivered rather more genuine congratulationsl, saying it was important to accept the American voters' choice and celebrate democracy.

He then returned fire at Peters, "our own poor man's Donald Trump."

"You have to wonder what Donald Trump would think of a 40-year career politician ... who sells exactly the same product and cannot break 10 per cent."

Nor could he later resist pointing out to Peters on Twitter that the first item on Trump's plan of action was to limit the number of a terms a member of Congress may serve.

But he ended on a serious note, saying his quibble with Trump was Trump's comments about women and he hoped Trump would apologise.

The distasteful chore of congratulating over, Parliament got on with its business.

Ironically, that business included the final reading of the Trans Pacific Partnership legislation.

Even Prime Minister John Key has conceded it is an exercise in futility given the second thing on Trump's list of things to do on his first day: withdraw from the TPP.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 27 Feb 2017 08:24:39 Processing Time: 478ms