It was supposed to be a debate on the Budget but National's Steven Joyce had something much more romantic on his mind - the Love Song of Labour and the Greens.

The day before, the two parties had announced they were officially conjoined. It was only for a limited time, but it was by way of an official-sounding document known as a 'memorandum of understanding.'

Joyce did not understand it at all. He said the two parties had announced "the stop-the-press news" that they would campaign against National in 2017. "That is the news." He described the courtship: "They literally tweeted love hearts to each other." Then he likened it to the Bachelor, showing an alarming level of knowledge of the cast of the reality show. "That makes Winston Naz. I feel a bit for Naz. He's been left on the shelf."

At this point NZ First leader Winston Peters leaped to his feet. A frisson of excitement ran through Parliament. Was Naz about to fight for her man? But Peters was simply adding bathos to Joyce's story. His only objection was Joyce referring to him as Winston rather than by his title and surname as Parliament's rules dictated. He humbly suggested that should include a "sir."


Duly reprimanded Joyce continued, his syntax now rather encumbered by having to refer to "the Right Honourable Winston Peters" rather than simply 'Winston'. He ended his tale with Green MP Julie Ann Genter, the 'Erin' of this Bachelor episode who had been "thrown under a bus." "It is ironic really because she is in favour of public transport."

Then came the right of reply from Labour's Grant Robertson. Robertson was puzzled as to why Joyce was talking about the Bachelor. "The show he should be talking about is The Biggest Loser ... and Steven Joyce knows who that is." Robertson then proceeded to read out verdicts of the Budget as 'visionless' and "a fiscal mirage." Robertson crowned his Biggest Loser: Bill English, who had a sorrowful backstory as "Moses on Mogadon, stumbling about the desert for 40 years, trying to find an economic plan, and it is not there." So it ended, a debate about reality shows, lost causes and biblical proportions of understandings and misunderstandings.