John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: Gangnam-style Little wins talent award


Roll up! Roll-up! Hear the Singing Prime Minister. Watch the Bobbing Backbencher. See a true One Man Band joust with a de facto One Man Band.

The final hours of the parliamentary year yesterday resembled something midway between a travelling carnival's freak show and an off-beat off-shoot of New Zealand's Got Talent.

It says a lot that the star performer of what might be better titled Parliament's Got A Modicum of Talent, Sort of, Maybe was Labour's Andrew Little jigging Gangnam-style during debate on the Statute Amendment Bill. Watch it on YouTube. It could have been worse.

And Parliament sure got worse during the afternoon's debate on the adjournment motion. This is always an occasion to really get stuck into opponents before offering them the compliments of the season - as if that makes up for all the vitriol and bile poured on them only moments earlier.

That debate is also increasingly becoming a test of party leaders as stand-up comedians. As National's Gerry Brownlee noted - John Key's raucous performance was more convincing for sounding like he had written his jokes whereas David Shearer's speech sounded like someone had written his for him.

After parodying Greens co-leader Russel Norman as someone who would order a "mung bean hamburger with double alfalfa", Key turned his sights on Winston Peters and the ejection of Brendan Horan by launching into a reworked rendition of "Ten in a Bed".

"Eight in the bed and Winston said "Roll over! Roll over!' So they all rolled over and one fell out ... ," the Prime Minister half-warbled, half-croaked in Peters' direction.

The latter's contribution to the debate centred on a rather bizarre tale about a thinned-down, pale-faced Santa Claus becoming a victim of the politically correct "health police".

NZ First stood right behind Mr Claus' right to be "a jolly, fat man". NZ First MPs would be hanging up their stockings and leaving St Nick something to eat which was high in sugar and saturated fat.

"Get to the punchline", interjected a bemused John Banks without realising that was it. Having engaged in a shouting match with Peters for much of the latter's speech, Banks then made the afternoon's most outrageous claim. It had been a "great" year for Act. No kidding.

"No leadership spills. No dissension. No waka jumping. And a united caucus," Banks added with pride. That is true. And will remain so unless Banks starts arguing with himself.

Going by yesterday's weirdness, such an eventuality would not look out of the ordinary.

- NZ Herald

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John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

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