The Speaker's announcement of a plan to build a few new castles at Parliament brings to mind the old saying of a stitch in time saving nine: and the tailor in question is NZ First leader Winston Peters.
The Speaker's proposal to build three new office blocks on Parliament's grounds resurrects (and expands) a previous proposal signed off in 2016 by then Speaker David Carter.
Carter's proposal was to have cost about $100 million but was scotched by NZ First leader Winston Peters as part of his coalition negotiations with Labour in 2017.
Mallard's proposal is slightly less humble in scope (his includes an extra building) and far less humble in cost.
He estimated that the larger project and the increased cost of building supplies since 2016 meant it would cost at least twice Carter's – and possible more – up to $250 million.
As he had once before, Peters scrapped what he called the "Parliamentary Palace" to put on a show of saving the taxpayers money. His consistent argument had been that instead of making more room for MPs, there should be fewer MPs.
Instead, it has cost double.
There is never going to be a good time for politicians to spend up large on themselves.
But politically there could hardly be a worse time. Covid-19 still holds sway over the economy, the demands on the Government's wallet are many and urgent, and first-home buyers face an ever-decreasing chance of housing themselves.
The cost of building supplies has soared.
Mallard's problem – and only defence - is that it has to be done now.
Hundreds of staff had to be moved out of the leased office block, Bowen House, while it goes through earthquake strengthening. That has squeezed most people into Parliament House, and moved some offsite.
National and Labour have been reluctant to re-lease Bowen House from the private owners (Mallard, being of the left, repeatedly pointed out they were "foreign" owners).
However, Mallard was clearly acutely aware that it might not be a "good look".
After all, he was criticised for spending $585,000 on a landscaped playground on Parliament's grounds.
And up the road, successive Prime Ministers have been too scared to spend money on updating Premier House because it is not a good look.
That awareness was clear as he put up justification after justification for the development.
Mallard was at pains to portray it as a humble, purely functional space - "we are not seeking to create a landmark".
He was also at pains to insist that in the long term, it was sound economics: he expected it to cost less than the cost of leasing Bowen House for another 30 years.
He opted not to emphasise that the choice of fittings and materials were hardly the cheapest options. The aim is to use as many New Zealand made and natural products as possible and to build it to the highest of environmental standards. The Taxpayer's Union did not miss that however.
He noted that it had the support of all other parties in Parliament. Asked what he would do if NZ First returned in 2023 and demanded it be scrapped, he said he would hang a picture of former NZ First MP Shane Jones from the side of a half-completed building as a monument to him.
Mallard even admitted he had flirted with the idea of getting the Government to do it through the fast-tracked infrastructure projects process - which the Government set up for "shovel-ready" projects to stimulate the economy after Covid-19.
That was promptly scotched by Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Environment Minister David Parker, who pointed out that using that to benefit Parliament was not appropriate and that the project was far from "shovel-ready".
The cost of it will be further increased because it involves working at Parliament, where heritage protections are rife. Even an oak tree in the ashphalt car park (described by Mallard as stunted and half-dead) is heritage protected. It will be dug up and moved.
Mallard will wait until next year's Budget to seek the money he needs to build his new empire. There is more justification for it than there was for his playground.
The best way to get these things done is for all sides of Parliament to agree to them, then simply shut up and do it. As far as the political parties are concerned, the other desirable aspect of it is to let the Speaker be the fall guy.
Once the work begins, and the eyes of the watchdogs over the taxpayers' funds run through the line-by-line items of expenditure, politicians will be more than happy about that.
The Speaker is expecting it to be ready in time for the 2026 election.
By then, he may no longer be Speaker despite his decades-long insistence he remains at "the mid-point of my career". By then, he may also be quite happy about that.