COMMENT:

The National Party has called Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard's bluff.

Responding to a Labour MP's complaint about what were hilarious video clips being taken from MPs performing in Parliament's debating chamber and used as attack ads, Mallard ordered the Opposition to stop using the material by the end of the week - or else.

National flipped him the bird as the deadline came and went. The Speaker had a couple of weeks of recess to stew on it and decide what to do about such open defiance of the person who has more clout in Parliament than even Winston Peters has in the New Zealand First Party.

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Mallard's word is law, defy him and he'll send you packing without pay as National's Nick Smith has discovered when he suggested he was biased.

So a serious Mallard rose as the House resumed yesterday and delivered his verdict and passed his sentence on Bridges who could be forgiven for being confused by the end of it.

Parliament's boss had decided not to send him to the Privileges Committee, which has all sorts of penalties available to it, because that would have been a waste of time. The committee is made up of five members from either side of the political spectrum so they're hardly going to come down hard on one of their number.

Labour's Finance Committee Chair, Deborah Russell, explains Labour's 'Wellbeing Budget'. Video / New Zealand National Party

No, the Speaker decided on some creative accounting which could potentially end up muzzling Bridges during the precious time MPs get to question ministers. But it was confusing.

Mallard told MPs the questions Bridges gets to ask have now been limited to five a day, but would begin reducing by one a week for each week they keep the attack ads on their Facebook site. However, confusing those in the chamber, he said, "if they're down by 5pm on Friday" then Bridges' questions reduction would be implemented. He meant to say if they're not down, of course.

Confusion aside, National has no intention of taking the ads down - and why should they? It says that with Mallard drawing attention to them, traffic has never been as high on the party's site.

Besmirching the Prime Minister. Labour attack ad on the National Party. Video / New Zealand Labour Party

If the Nats are wise they'll be working on some new, colourful ads and there's plenty of material for those being produced daily. In the meantime, Mallard's ordered an urgent sitting of the Standing Orders committee, which he chairs, to decide whether video grabs out of the bear pit can continue to be used in the way National's been using them.

With National, combined with the lone ranger from Act, having a majority on the committee, that's bound to happen.

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If Labour's unhappy about being taken the proverbial out of, given their highly entertaining performances are being displayed on Facebook which has signed up to the Christchurch call, then surely it would have been easier for them to have them declared illegal by the Chief Censor - problem solved.