The week in politics saw Auckland get a cycle bridge, the nurses marched on Parliament, Nick Smith marched out of Parliament, and a fly landed on Stuart Smith.
Wednesday: Catch more flies with Smiths
National's climate change spokesman Stuart Smith keeps something of a low profile, which is a virtue for a National MP at the moment. However, this week delivered his chance to shine with the release of the Climate Change Commission's report.
Alas, Smith's big shot was ruined by a fly that simply would not leave him alone during his media appearance. Smith waved it off, while National's press secretary Julia Stewart stood behind him, attempting to do a Miyagi and catch the fly with her hands.
Journalists were left wondering if Parliament's flies had a vendetta against Smiths: the last politician to be so harangued by a fly during a media standup was National MP Nick Smith in 2016.
Things didn't get much better for Stuart Smith in Parliament. When he stood to speak in the debate on the commission's report, Speaker Trevor Mallard looked blankly at Smith and said "I've lost your name."
His name was offered up by other MPs – but even then the Speaker simply said, "I call the member."
Mallard later apologised to Smith: "I just had a complete blank on his name, and I do apologise."
Wednesday: Andrew Little, poacher turned gamekeeper
As the former union head, Health Minister Andrew Little has had his fair share of ensuring Government ministers were shouted down during strikes. On Wednesday, he had the honour of being shouted down himself when he fronted to the nurses striking over their pay offer.
But earlier Little had tried to spin at least one thing in his advantage. At the health select committee, Little was asked why the Government was spending money on a cycle and walking bridge for Auckland's harbour rather than to benefit the nurses with better hospitals.
Little said the bridge was a health measure as well as a transport measure, and would benefit nurses by keeping people fit and helping with congestion, thereby keeping more people out of hospital. Good try, Minister, but I'm not sure they'll buy it.
Thursday: Nick Smith of 1990 vs Nick Smith 2021
When National's Nick Smith first got into Parliament in 1990 he was the youngest MP in Parliament. When he signed off on Thursday, he was the last remaining MP on Parliament's old superannuation scheme – the so-called "gold-plated" scheme which guarantees an annuity for life in return for an 11 per cent salary contribution.
So Beehive Diaries was amused to discover that in his maiden speech in 1990, Smith was a staunch critic of the super scheme in question, saying it "hid under the facade of being self-funding" and describing it as a "shameful charade" that the Government had cut pensions and was lifting the retirement age from 60 to 65 for other people, but had just boosted payouts and set a lower eligibility age of 45 for MPs' own super scheme (it is now 50). He had a point.
Since 1992, MPs have been on standard superannuation schemes (albeit with a very generous 20 per cent employer - aka taxpayer - contribution top-up.)
The scheme Smith was on qualifies him for around $86,000 a year – adjusted according to the CPI.