As hissy fits go it was right up there. Paula Bennett may be half the size she used to be but she packs a punch in Parliament's bear pit, although on this occasion it was a bit of self flagellation.

Parliament's father bear Trevor Mallard conducts the place a bit like the classrooms he used to preside over.

The Speaker's come up with a novel way of disciplining unruly Members of Parliament. If they're out of line, their allocation of questions they fire across the House is cut and at times their opponents get more. The bigger the misdemeanour the more questions they lose.

Bennett unwisely began remonstrating with the wily old scrapper Mallard who himself has been biffed out of Parliament more times than the cantankerous Nat's wheeled out her famous bacon and egg pies.


She got in a pickle over Mallard cutting five questions from the Nats with her claiming it was anti democratic.

She remained unimpressed when he told her that since he adopted the practice on becoming Speaker, National's actually got 22 questions more than it would have, given the Government's bad boy Shane Jones and his ilk lost questions for their side.

Bennett stormed out of the chamber saying it was a waste of time.

But in a way, given they're on the right side of the ledger with questions, was Bennett cutting off her nose to spite her face?

She made a fair point about suddenly getting more questions, suggesting they're pointless when they can't prepare for them and score a good hit.

And she's claiming that they're usually given at a time when their main target, Jacinda Ardern's gone from the pit.

Having got all that off her chest, Bennett headed back into the debating chamber and was immediately pounced on by Mallard who made her grovel, demanding she apologise for storming off and being rude on her way out.

This poacher turned gamekeeper acknowledged he'd also been guilty of that sort of behaviour himself in the past.


The whole incident opened a can of worms with the formidable Gerry Brownlee wading into the fight but taking it to another level in an open letter to Mallard. T

The Speaker confirmed, he said, that a Nat had made a sexist remark about the Prime Minister, apparently calling her a stupid little girl, that Brownlee says no one but Mallard apparently heard.

When asked even Ardern said the MPs were too roudy for her to hear what was said, which isn't unusual in this place.

Brownlee accused Mallard of calling an MP a naughty child and allowing a National MP to be called a fool.

The burning question is, will Mallard today deduct questions for Brownlee's outburst?