At last count there are six MPs in self-isolation. Two are electorate MPs, four from the list.

You may remember before the virus started, and life was different, I did a piece on how many MPs in our Parliament I had never heard of. It turned out to be about 20 per cent - that is, 22 of them. Never heard of them, literally, and what made it surprising is no one follows the game more than me.

I watch Question Time, I follow Select Committees, the progress of legislation. Politics is my fascination. And yet in that Parliament were 22 people who have never managed to say or do anything to come to my attention. Two of those isolated are on the list. Is that coincidence or not?

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick is in self-isolation after travelling to Australia. Photo / File
Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick is in self-isolation after travelling to Australia. Photo / File

The fact four are list MPs once again highlights the absurdity of MMP. Just what is it these people do? Who do they represent? And when they're self isolating, does anyone actually miss them?

Perhaps the most disturbing statistic I have heard is from Trevor Mallard, who said if it came down to it, Parliament could pass law with about 12 MPs. 12. And you know what the next question is. Why do we need the other 108?

Coronavirus: Air NZ's $900m lifeline from Govt; New Zealand borders closed, why schools are staying open - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Coronavirus: University of Auckland suspends teaching next week
Coronavirus: Family says China is now safer than NZ for their children
Coronavirus: Eight reasons to stay positive during the pandemic

Obviously there are electorates. People do need some sort of personal representation. Although, hand on heart, how many people do you know who have gone to see an MP? And even those who have, how often? What for? And what if anything actually got done?

You can add the committees and so on, but given we start with a base of 12 to actually make law, surely we can rapidly conclude that 120 - plus all the apparatus that goes with it - is excessive.

In a world of so-called efficiency, not to mention fiscal leniency, there would appear to be a lot of people surplus to requirements.

One test, not the only one, but one test of your value to a group, business, institution, or economy is if you vanished, what wouldn't happen? What would stop? What would people miss? If the answer is nothing, or not much, or it would take a while to even notice, surely we could argue your role is not exactly vital? Perhaps not even that viable?

It's applicable in a lot of areas of life. From roadwork crews - you know the ones you drive past - and they're leaning on shovels watching one sap dig. What about administrative types in the office? No one really knows what exactly it is they do. The ones whose entire days are back-to-back meetings, a world of white boards, learnings, and un-packings.


A lot of it, sadly, is tax or ratepayer funded. Nothing bloats like the public sector.

If Mallard is right and all we need is 12, that's a lot of room for self-isolation and no one really noticing the difference.