COMMENT:

If ever a minister lived by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Hope and Change creed, it was Energy Minister Megan Woods this week.

As average electricity wholesale prices soared to the highest levels since 2009, an emissary was sent to explain the situation.

There was a bung valve at Pohokura gas field and a landslip had affected the Maiu pipe.

Advertisement

That meant there was less gas than usual and that could continue until December.

Then there was the weather. Dry conditions in the South Island meant lake levels were low for the hydrodams. The snow was also stubbornly refusing to melt. Rain would both melt the snow and fill the lake.

Woods had added Tekapo to her weather app so she could keep an eye on things.

The hope and change in this instance was the hope the weather would change.

In the meantime, there was little for Woods to do but insist the Winter Warmer payments — $700 per couple — would help soften the blow.

Meanwhile, National MP Gerry Brownlee and Speaker Trevor Mallard spent the equivalent of the annual Winter Warmer payments of 34 couples on a trip to Japan to thaw a frosty relationship.

That was not the relationship between New Zealand and Japan, but between each other.

In the press release announcing the $24,000 trip, Mallard described it as "sports diplomacy". He was possibly referring to the blood sport between himself and Brownlee in Parliament, rather than the All Blacks and Brave Blossoms match they went to watch.

Advertisement

Things had reached an almost critical stage earlier this year when Brownlee and the National Party went into revolt over Mallard's refereeing of Parliament — in particular his new game of taking away National's questions as punishment for being naughty.

Mallard issued a reminder of this to Brownlee in the week before the pair jetted off to Tokyo on what some may have dubbed the Peace Mission.

Mallard demanded to know who in National had moaned after one of his rulings, sparking a Spartacus moment, as three MPs — including Brownlee — stood to confess.

Mallard deducted six questions and then a further four after Brownlee said "it was worth it".

Whether the $24,000 jaunt to Japan to watch the All Blacks play the Brave Blossoms was also worth it is debatable.

Certainly, Act leader David Seymour did not think so and demanded the men repay it from their own money.

Mallard gifted him a Brave Blossoms jersey and a barbed reference to the amount of time Seymour spent on Dancing with the Stars while getting the taxpayer's dime.

The scoreline after that contest was Mallard 1, Seymour 0.

But Mallard's insistence he would have much rather watched the game from the comfort of his sofa in Wainuiomata did not quite have the ring of truth to it.

Brownlee did not post on social media from Tokyo, but Mallard's Twitter account revealed they had some fun with rugby and he visited Cookie Time's base in Tokyo.

Many reasons were given to justify the trip — from promoting the CPTPP to Shane Jones' insistence that rugby players were critical tools for trade.

As far as a peace mission went, it may not have been as successful as hoped. No sooner had they returned than Brownlee was complaining about the rules of Parliament changing on a daily basis in Question Time.

Then one of their own also turned on them — former Speaker David Carter said he would not have gone on such a trip.

There was one of Brownlee's rivals who was silent on it: NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Perhaps the reason was that the Racing Minister was about to slip off to Melbourne on the sly to watch the Melbourne Cup. Funnily enough, there was no press release issued in advance of that one.