Judith Collins was almost at the end of an energetic general debate speech this week when the Speaker interrupted: "The member's time has expired."
"It certainly has," quipped Grant Robertson.
Such ribbing from opponents is expected. The real question is how long her colleagues think she has got.
There was unanimous acceptance, if not support, that things were so desperate after Todd Muller's 53-day leadership, that Collins needed to take the helm of the National Party.
The unstated part of the deal was that she had to be given a fair go and given time to rebuild party support after the October election.
And with the National brand having been so resoundingly trashed through last year, it is by no means a quick-fix.
The trouble is there is no agreement on how long is long enough but a full term would seem reasonable.
Collins herself is clear when asked how long she has to rebuild.
"I think I've got as long as it takes, actually," she tells the Weekend Herald. "What we are seeing is that the party needs stability and it is very important for us as a party to be able to understand that it is not just the MPs involved in the party – but it is our electorates.
"They will support me while they see us moving forward.
"I think there is probably significantly more support even for me because of the fact I took over the job when it was a total hospital pass - and nobody in their right mind would think it was anything other than that."
That is probably true. She became the third leader in three months, taking over a bitterly divided caucus, reeling from the Muller coup and resignation, the Hamish Walker scandal of leaking patient details, straight into the Andrew Falloon sexting scandal, and an exodus of some of its brightest MPs.
Her previous plan was to have contested the leadership straight after the 2020 election, which Simon Bridges would have failed to win.
That had been Muller's plan as well. After a bruising fight, Collins would probably have won that contest – and possibly been undermined by Muller supporters throughout the term.
But the plunging polls under Covid-19 last year accelerated the process and Muller's support group saw their opportunity.
The fact that Judith Collins, who has been such a polarising figure throughout her political career, turned out to be the unity candidate, is ironic.
The fact that today she is emphasising the support of the electorates is also probably wise.
She has always been a darling of the party. Not all MPs are but Collins enjoyed party work such as regional conferences and has always been in demand on the party circuit.
Without having a large coterie of acolytes in the caucus, it makes sense to harness that grassroots support to cement her leadership.
In a party that was forged on a coalition of farmers and their rural conservativism with business and their urban liberalism, Collins has a certain cross-appeal within the party.
She gets sentimental when talking about her upbringing on a Waikato dairy farm and the values it instilled in her, and she is also a highly educated urban lawyer. She can speak with as much passion about getting tough on gangs and crime as she can on supporting gay marriage and euthanasia.
Her die-hard loyalists these days are deputy leader Shane Reti, who replaced Gerry Brownlee as Collins' preferred deputy after the election, Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly, Agriculture spokesman David Bennett, whip Maureen Pugh, Corrections spokesman Simeon Brown, and Harete Hipango.
There is not a Machiavelli among them. They are the strays, misfits and the "uncool" MPs, sometimes picked on by others, whom she has befriended over the years.
Factions in National – and Labour – tend to emerge under the pressure of Opposition and these days they are hardly ever about policy or ideology but about polls, popularity and which leader could help advance the individual MP and the party.
That is a lamentable fact, according to National Party veteran Maurice Williamson, a former colleague of Collins and like her, an occasional maverick.
He clashed with Sir Robert Muldoon on ideological grounds at his first caucus meeting in 1987 when the new MP suggested Roger Douglas' reforms were terrific. Muldoon suggested he go and join his "leftie" mates down the corridor.
Williamson says National and Labour have coalesced around the centre under MMP and are scared to alienate the slightly off-centre.
"You are wasting your time if you think you can get big ideological debates up and running because it is very heavily driven by polling.
"When I joined the National Party and went to meetings, the differences were stark."
Then Muldoon started running left-wing policies of state control and Roger Douglas adopted right-wing policies and reducing the state.
"By the end of those two lots of government, the public was so bloody confused as to even where the divide was, it was one of the major things that drove MMP.
"There's no philosophical driver any more. It's to do with who is popular and who is nice, who says the right thing at the right time, or who doesn't offend somebody."
Williamson said Collins was "a great lady" and believes the caucus should give her the whole term as leader.
There was an accumulating array of issues around which the Government was looking shaky – vaccine rollout, gangs, the cycle bridge - and at some point, the balance would start to tip in National's favour.
"You were never going to be able to win that last election," he said, citing the popularity of Jacinda Ardern.
He returned in October last year from a stint as New Zealand's Consul-General in Los Angeles where, he said, even the supermarket check-out operator knew who Ardern was and described her as the world's best leader.
Those behind the Muller coup cite dismal polling for Bridges at the time and convince themselves it could not have recovered, safe in the knowledge that no one will ever know.
But Williamson believes that if Simon Bridges had stayed where he was and National had run a good campaign, the carnage would not have been anywhere near as bad as it was.
"But you can't have three leaders in three months.
"You can't have people taking pics of their bloody dicks and texting them around."
He said there may well still be factions and people who were unhappy at what jobs they had got under Collins.
"As long as they are focused on themselves internally, all they are going to do is slip down the charts. It is so much a guaranteed mantra that while you are talking about yourself, the public don't give a damn about you."
Were Collins to fall under a bus tomorrow, former leader Bridges would probably be best placed to take over, and if it were closer to the election, the former Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon could be in the running - although it is more than likely his mentor Sir John Key has counselled against any move this term.
Mark Mitchell is not considered a viable option. Nicola Willis and Chris Bishop, the Grant and Jacinda of the National Party, are the next generation's leaders, not current options.
Everybody has now learned their lines properly: they totally support Collins and she will be the next Prime Minister. Bridges has desisted from giving smart-alec half answers.
And since the night that Todd Muller was effectively purged from the caucus, such proclamations have been said with a little more feeling.
Muller's mistake was not only to have talked in disparaging terms to Newsroom about the returning list MP Harete Hipango, as Herald political editor Claire Trevett revealed. It was to have made his comments while in a car with former whip Barbara Kuriger.
Collins was on the warpath over the piece, which appeared on June 16. The next ordinary caucus meeting was June 22, the day Hipango was sworn in, and Collins read the riot act.
After Kuriger came forward to the leadership, Shane Reti confronted Muller and after admitting to the Hipango hit job, an extraordinary caucus meeting was called for later that night.
Muller was confronted by his colleagues (some of whom had also been anonymously quoted in the Newsroom story).
But what made matters worse for Muller was that he admitted to the caucus to having been a source for the Politik newsletter, run by veteran journalist Richard Harman, for about five years.
It has famously had good detail about the inner workings and debates in the National Party including from caucus. Harman has a wide range of National Party contacts and assiduously covers many National events, including regional conferences and Blue Greens conferences that most media don't.
Muller insisted he hadn't leaked but rather briefed the media, but no matter what it was called, Muller's admissions sealed his fate.
He was given an ultimatum to either announce his retirement with dignity or to be suspended. The next day he announced his retirement – although not effective until the next election – and went on five weeks' leave.
What happens on his return is yet undetermined but it is highly possible that caucus could suspend him, and he either sits in the wilderness until the 2023 election or he forces a byelection in his Bay of Plenty electorate.
There may also have been more to that just frequently "briefing" the media. There may have been a sense in the caucus that Muller was not exactly a team player. That would have been a sore point given he had been welcomed back by Collins after his disastrous coup and mental breakdown with a place in her shadow cabinet.
The day after Muller's retirement announcement last month, Politik noted that some farmer groups had previously lobbied Collins to have Muller replace the current agriculture spokesman, David Bennett.
It said that pointedly, Dairy NZ had invited Muller to speak to a farmers' forum in May, not Bennett, an invitation which Muller accepted, albeit to talk about mental health.
One of Dairy NZ's leading executives is Aaron Letcher, a former staff member and friend of Todd Muller.
Bennett got himself offside with farmer groups after criticising them for working with the Government on climate change – as Collins did as well during the election campaign.
It is a stance that clearly sat uneasily with Muller. As a former climate change spokesman for National, he worked closely with James Shaw and the Government on the Zero Carbon Bill and as a former agriculture spokesman, he presumably did not want to see National alienating farmer groups for similarly working on climate change.
Collins won't discuss that night or what she believes the caucus will do to Muller when he returns, but she clearly believes that the caucus is entering a new period of discipline in the party.
"The caucus does not want ill-discipline. They are over ill-discipline. They want everyone to be doing what they should be doing and I think there will be zero tolerance for any ill-discipline, should they find it."
"I think there is huge support for the fact that, along with Shane, I have stood up to everything that has been thrown," she said.
"I think too there is tremendous support for the fact that we have had to deal with what has been a very challenging issue within the MPs and we've been dealing with it. People like me doing that."
Perhaps she is right that the party does like what she has been doing, but not necessarily the public. A leaked poll taken by the long-running and reputable UMR company has National down three points to 24 per cent and Collins on 10 per cent as preferred Prime Minister compared to Act's David Seymour on 12 per cent (National pollster David Farrar points out that Helen Clark was 6th in the preferred PM poll in 1994).
The poll was taken between June 24 and July 1 at the height of publicity over the Muller purge – which undoubtedly would have been seen by the public as disunity in the ranks.
The one statistical solace that Collins can take is at least among National supporters she is the preferred Prime Minister – 37 per cent of them - although Seymour and Ardern are preferred by 15 per cent each. Luxon barely registers at 1.5 per cent and Bridges doesn't get a mention.
Collins' leadership aspirations were always evident. She wore her ambition on a sleeve and when John Key suddenly resigned in 2016, she toyed with the idea of a contest against the pre-ordained successor, Bill English, not with an expectation of winning but as a marker for any future contest.
Bridges was even more blatant. He not only toyed with the idea of a contest, he challenged Paula Bennett, English's preferred deputy, again as a marker for a future contest.
When English resigned 14 months later, the real contest began. Bridges was best organised because of his dress rehearsal against Paula Bennett. The seminal contest was between Bridges and Adams.
While Collins, Steven Joyce and Mark Mitchell were contenders, the Bridges v Adams contest was the first in a long time that pitted the conservative wing against the liberal wing.
Collins and Mitchell could each count their support on one hand. Joyce had got offside with too many people and left his run too late – although he may well have become the leader had he stuck around until 2020.
But Bridges did nothing to encourage Joyce to stay on in any role that would have put his incredible political and campaigning experience to use in 2020.
Amy Adams was given finance for getting second, then quit it partway through, announcing her retirement, then changed her mind to support the Muller coup, then decided to leave again when it all turned sour.
Nikki Kaye, Muller's deputy, and Paula Bennett were also among an exodus.
The core of Muller's support had been the same group of people who had supported Adams in 2018 Adams herself, Nikki Kaye, Nicola Willis, Chris Bishop – who thought the affable, moderate and provincial Muller with Auckland Central's liberal Kaye as deputy would be a better combination to counter the Covid-19 effect than Bridges and Bennett (who were also provincial conservative and an urban liberal).
Bridges encountered disloyalty almost immediately from front bencher Jami-Lee Ross and the public brawling, expulsion and eventual SFO charges took their toll. But ultimately Covid-19 provided the conditions for Muller to strike against Bridges.
Collins had supported Muller but now sounds very unforgiving when comparing his famous indecision to herself.
"In terms of my leadership of bringing together what was a very challenging situation, actually just having the spine to get up every day and do that when others falter in something to be proud of.
"And the fact is I can make decisions. I'm not someone who can't make decisions. I understand there are always effects of that. Sometimes those effects are negative but I'd rather do that than not make a decision."
There are no apparent factions working against Collins at present although that is not to say there is unanimous belief that she will last the term.
The large group who once backed Bridges either abandoned him for Muller, have been promoted by Collins or were dumped by the voters. Todd McClay, Michael Woodhouse and Paul Goldsmith were the closest to him but they appear to be knuckling down in their new jobs.
Bridges himself, ironically, has a huge opportunity to shape the success of Collins' leadership with issues such as hate speech and Maori co-governance proposals falling into his lap.
He was on both TV3's The Nation last week and TVNZ's Q and A.
The party polled 25.6 per cent at the 2020 election to Labour's 50 per cent and, as happened in 2002, when National polled 20.9 per cent, the party has undertaken a review of the campaign and its own rules.
Much has been made of changes to the selection processes back in 2002 after the rules review by Steven Joyce as though they were responsible for some MPs last term turning out to be duds.
But in fact the changes were minimal.
The strong electorates get to choose their candidates without any input from head office, and not so healthy ones get delegates topped up from the region. The party conference in August will look at whether top-ups should continue because it gives regional chairs a lot of influence.
It is doubtful any amount of vetting could have foreseen the complete lapse in judgment of first-term MP Hamish Walker, who received Covid patient details from a former party president, Michelle Boag, and then forwarded them to media.
It is also doubtful any amount of vetting would have raised alarm bells about the future sexting activities of first-term MP Andrew Falloon.
The one candidate who might have been more thoroughly vetted was Jake Bezzant, who was selected for Upper Harbour.
Alarms bells were rung, initially about his CV, but he had the patronage of former deputy leader Paula Bennett and president Peter Goodfellow and the board did not investigate properly.
There is certainly a debate to be had in the party about the board having greater oversight of the big picture to ensure that all ethnic list MPs are not wiped out as happened in 2020, and whether there is an overbalance of devout Christians.
From the moment the last election was over, there has been an "accepted wisdom" that Judith Collins could not lead National into the next election and that the knives will be out again this term. That is not necessarily certain or wise.
Williamson says the attitude of the caucus, however, should be to make the best of what has been delivered by the voters.
"The team just really needs to say 'this is what we are, we can't change it until the next election, we've knuckled down as a team, we've got to start to like each other and stop the hatred and the bitterness ... and just get on and work together.
"I don't see another leader taking over. I think Judith will lead them into the next election but others have to recognise that."