The Honolulu Lesson:
Christopher Luxon's team clearly learned a lesson from the drama over his wee holiday in Hawaii in a Parliamentary recess - a holiday that wasn't flagged in advance and so caused confusion when his Facebook page showed he was in Te Puke in the same week. This time around, his office alerted media in advance that Luxon was travelling to Melbourne for the weekend to visit his daughter.
A two-week recess lies ahead, but we are assured Luxon will be back and heading to a Te Puke, Te Awamutu or Te Kauwhata near you next week. And if he isn't, then Act leader David Seymour will be - he is spending his recess on yet another road trip.
A-junketing they will go:
Speaking of overseas travels, it seems like only yesterday a Speakers' Tour (cough, junket) left our fair shores - because it almost was.
In April, former Speaker Trevor Mallard took a batch of MPs to Europe and Ireland - costing the taxpayer a cool $200,000 or so.
On Friday, new Speaker Adrian Rurawhe took off on his own Speaker's Tour: two weeks in Argentina, Uruguay, and Mexico, with MPs Naisi Chen (Labour), Anae Neru Leavasa (Labour), Ian McKelvie (National) and Ricardo Menéndez March (Green Party).
The annual Speaker's tours have long been regarded as junkets - one of the few that remain for MPs.
The Act Party refused to take part in them this year, criticising them as a waste of taxpayers' money in the current climate. It has no MPs on this trip either. Te Pāti Maori has also not been on them.
Rurawhe - who has had a very solid start to his reign as Speaker - justified it on the basis of the importance of a new Speaker learning from other parliaments. Quite what value it will have for retiring MP Ian McKelvie is unclear.
The tours are usually held annually but two were skipped due to Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021.
Skeleton in Chris Penk's closet?
After an Ombudsman's report critical of delays in responses under the Official Information Act, Chris Penk tweeted a photo of himself chatting to a clothed skeleton and the caption "you've been waiting on that OIA response how long?"
Mallard responded with a screen grab of a 2017 letter he received from former Finance Minister Steven Joyce. The letter advised that Joyce was releasing information Mallard had requested four years earlier, back in 2013, from Joyce's predecessor, Bill English.
Penk replied by asking if the skeleton he was talking to was actually Mallard. Mallard, still at the mid-point of his working life, responded "yes, at the point you become a minister".
The unanswered question is how and why Penk had a skeleton hanging around in the first place. Had he hauled it out as part of National's selection processes, requiring all skeletons in the closet to be revealed? Was it Dr Shane Reti's? Penk's only answer was to note that it was Halloween in a month and he was an enthusiast.
Quote of the week:
"Who said romance is dead?" Justice Minister Kiri Allan, who had to run to board a plane just after proposing to her partner, RNZ's Māni Dunlop, at the airport. Dunlop fortunately had enough time to say yes. Warmest congratulations to you both.