What's good for the goose is good for the Mallard
The word hypocrite is banned in Parliament, but not in Beehive Diaries and Speaker Trevor Mallard has found himself charged with it after he settled a defamation case against him for describing a former staffer's actions as amounting to "rape".
Mallard settled the case out of court, but would not reveal any further details, saying it was subject to a non-disclosure agreement.
It did not take long for people to unearth Mallard's earlier comments about non-disclosure agreements, saying they should not be used to hide MPs' bad behaviour.
Then Mallard did release some details of the settlement – a total of $333,641.70 including $158,000 payment to the former staffer, $171,000 to Mallard's lawyers, and $4641.70 to Crown Law for advice it tendered to former deputy Speaker Anne Tolley, who was charged with handling Mallard's case.
The release of those details did accord with others of Mallard's previous comments: in 2010, Mallard called for public disclosure if an MP's legal costs were funded, or if they had applied for funding.
He made those comments to try to embarrass Gerry Brownlee, who had unsuccessfully tried to get funding for his costs when sued for threatening to push activist Steve Abel on a stairwell.
Unlike ministers, the Speaker and MPs are not subject to the Official Information Act so those whose legal costs are covered can and often do fly under the radar.
Mallard has paid many of his own legal bills for battles in his past. The taxpayer paid this round. There was no precedent for a Speaker being in such a situation - so deputy Speaker Anne Tolley got Crown Law Office advice and dealt with Mallard's case in the same way a minister would be treated.
What is less virtuous was the discovery that in August, the rules in the Speaker's Directions were changed to widen the scope of the legal costs MPs could get taxpayer funding for.
In the past, the rules stated MPs could have the legal costs of defending legal proceedings taken against them paid.
The rules now specify MPs can apply for taxpayers' funds to be used for settlements, or to pay damages and costs after a court case, as well as their own legal costs.
The effect is that all ordinary MPs now effectively have the same indemnity as Cabinet Ministers, for whom different rules apply, but not the same transparency.
They still do not have to reveal when taxpayer funding is used for their costs.
Does size matter? New MP Tracey McLellan answers the age-old question
The election delivered a glut of MPs from science and medical backgrounds, and it has shown in their maiden speeches.
Banks Peninsula MP Tracey McLellan, who has a doctorate in psychology, mentioned a paper she had co-written, saying a journalist had suggested it might help her deal with the egos of Parliament.
A Google search found a screed of papers authored by McLellan, most on her specialist area of brain injuries. Then there was this from 2014: "(Perceived) size really does matter: Male dissatisfaction with penis size."
McLellan reassured the Speaker the answer to the question was "no".
The second triumph of evidence-based maiden speeches came from Dr Ayesha Verrall.
Many Labour MPs, including Jacinda Ardern, use Norm Kirk's well-travelled quote that all people want is "someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for".
It is believed by many to be an adaptation of his actual quote, since there seems to be no record of it. There is a record of a very similar quote, however.
That was that one Verrall used:
"Basically there are four things that matter to people: they have to have somewhere to live, they have to have food to eat, they have to have clothing to wear, and they have to have something to hope for."
All verified material, no love required.
Wish for 2021
Beehive Diaries has a dream, noting 2020 has taught us all to keep our dreams moderate:
The 2021 wish is for Simon Bridges to come back from his holiday with a beard.
After his defeat at the hands of David Shearer in 2011, David Cunliffe returned in early 2012 with a beard. That facial hair quickly became something of a barometer of his leadership ambitions.
It was decided that when Cunliffe shaved, it was game on.
In August of 2012, Cunliffe returned from an overseas trip with a bare chin.
In November, Cunliffe backed changes to the way Labour elected its leader by giving members and affiliated unions a vote. That change later paved his way to the leadership.
Soon after that, Shearer demoted him for disloyalty. The beard's power was immense.
Less than a year later, Cunliffe was leader.
Unfortunately, the chances of Bridges undertaking a similar exercise are much diminished because of the Beehive Diaries breaching the rule of keeping wishes secret to help them come true.
Then again, Bridges has always had a contrary streak.