The lively and good humoured cut and thrust of Parliament's first leaders' debate of the year came to a thudding stop after Speaker Trevor Mallard lost his temper with National leader Simon Bridges.
It was very clear that the Opposition was one insult away from a mass walkout after Mallard questioned Bridges' competence.
Bridges' great offence had been forgetting to hand a piece of paper to Clerk of the House straight after his speech with the amendment Bridges had moved to the Prime Minister's confidence motion.
It must also be said that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had not followed correct procedure when she began her speech.
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She began her speech without having tabled the Prime Minister's statement and Mallard gently chided her.
The tone had changed by the time of Bridges' fail on procedure. Bridges was receiving a standing ovation from his side of the House at the time.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters quickly got to his feet and was about to speak but Mallard held him back.
Mallard reprimanded Bridges for this breach of procedure, particularly as he had reminded him of the same thing the previous year.
"I can't call the member yet. I'm waiting for the Leader of the Opposition to comply with standing order 124," Mallard said.
"It was an issue I dealt with last year with him," he said when Bridges looked taken aback.
Mallard waited impatiently for Bridges to pass the piece of paper to the Clerk's desk.
When Bridges returned to his seat he muttered: "He is such a clever guy."
It was picked up by the parliamentary sound system but not by Mallard who thought he had heard Bridges accuse him of being "petty".
Mallard forced Bridges to withdraw his comment and apologise, and then lectured Bridges about why standing orders were not petty and were very clear.
"He had one chance last year and he made a mess of it. He has done it again and calling me petty for insisting that he comply with standing orders is, as far as I am concerned, outrageous."
Bridges: "I have not said that you are petty and I would ask that if you are going to make that sort of serious statement in this House you back it up because it is not true."
He said there may well be rules on tabling amendments but for the 12 years he had been in Parliament, there was customarily a period of time in which to table papers.
Mallard: "The member might believe that but he might believe a whole pile of other things. Any competent member knows," and again for effect, "Any competent member knows ….."
At this point the grumbles in the National camp had turned to a chorus of discontent and a loud interjection by Nick Smith: "Starting the year biased!"
After Smith's sarcastic withdrawal and apology, Mallard continued: "Any member with a knowledge of standing orders and anyone who has observed this House knows it is the practice to give to the whip a copy of an amendment which is given to the Clerk during the speech because it has to be put by the Speaker at the end of the speech."
Mallard then said what is formally required of him: "The question is now that Mr Bridges' amendment be agreed to," which of course could have been uttered whether or not Bridges had been "competent" enough to hand over the piece of paper.
Bridges had not called Mallard petty but if the hat fits...
Ardern's speech was a lively affair.
When she proclaimed to be leading a "Government of infrastructure" her own troops whooped wildly with the memory of the $12 billion spending plan fresh in their minds.
When she proclaimed to be leading a "Government of housing" the Opposition whooped wildly, at the memory of the KiwiBuild failure.
The targets – yearly, five yearly and 10-yearly - were dropped last year but that did not stop Ardern or the creatives in Labour coming up with a poster with 3480 tiny houses on it to represent the level of homes under construction at the end of last year.
She was given a standing ovation by Labour and the Greens. New Zealand First MPs did not until realising it was becoming a talking point, so they stood slowly as well, although no one in Labour stood after Peters' speech.
It may have been that Peters' speech was not among his finest.
Or it may have been that Mallard's pedantry had somewhat stifled the atmosphere.