The media is usually pretty nice to maiden speeches. It's polite to be nice to MPs taking their first steps in Parliament.
But I'm afraid National MP Sam Uffindell's maiden speech, delivered on Tuesday afternoon, was bad enough to shatter this truce.
Incoming MPs are told to work hard on their maiden speeches - it's one of the only times in their careers they'll be able to speak (mostly) for themselves. The second those blissful 15 minutes are up, it's back to the clapping seal routine of the backbench, hopeful that one day, just maybe, a move just two rows forward will precipitate greater freedom.
But Uffindell's speech was quite bereft of personal views. It was a dry regurgitation of existing National Party policy on social investment and law and order. It was sophistry - but worse, soporific sophistry. The delivery was dry, like last place in a third-form speech competition. Uffindell read almost exclusively from notes - something the House officially allows for maiden and valedictory speeches, but not elsewhere (a rule which former deputy speaker Anne Tolley enforced so severely she reduced a teenaged Youth MP to tears).
National leader Christopher Luxon said Uffindell brought a diversity of intelligence to his caucus. It's too early to tell whether that's true beyond Uffindell's admittedly impressive CV, but it would certainly be good to have a bit of that wit on display where it matters most.
Unfortunately for Uffindell, his speech contrasted poorly with last week's maiden speech of Labour's newest MP, Dan Rosewarne, a list MP who replaces Kris Faafoi.
Poor Mr Rosewarne is probably not long for Parliament. He's Labour's lowest ranked MP, and barring a British-style mass-seppuku of the Cabinet, he's unlikely to move high enough to re-enter Parliament in 2023. Rosewarne could try standing in a more favourable seat - his best chance of snatching his Waimakariri from National's lookalike incumbent Matt Doocey, is coming out on top in a case of mistaken identity.
But Rosewarne's speech suggests this would be a shame. He spoke movingly of his difficult time at school, finding a home in the army, and serving his country in Afghanistan. He was later diagnosed with cancer and might be dead but for expensive cancer treatment funded by Pharmac.
It was a powerful story, well told. The mandatory party political boot licking was mostly subtext, as it should be - a stark contrast to Uffindell's attempt.
The speech might put some wind into Labour's sails. A blind tasting, in which one was forced to pick who belonged to the party battered and bruised after five years of government and which belonged to the insurgent opposition would no doubt throw up interesting results.
Elsewhere, however, National regained the initiative this week, after last week's Te Puke detour.
From Monday, Luxon and finance spokeswoman Nicola Willis successfully prosecuted Labour's cost-of-living payment.
Round one of the political tussle over the payment, which played out after its announcement in May, probably went to the Government, for the reasons outlined in the Herald's editorial this week. It's targeted, delivers large amounts of money to low-income people, and strikes a decent balance between getting a decent amount of money to people and not causing too much inflation.
But round two went to National this week.
Money heading overseas is the fiscal equivalent of Luxon's Te Puke story - amusing, but unlikely to shift the dial.
But the fact more than a third of the 2.1 million people expected to be eligible for the payment hadn't received it on the day it was rolled out suggests many eligible people don't actually need it and many who do aren't getting it. A key criticism of the payment is it can go to spouses of people who earn hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, and to other people living in very high-income households, because eligibility is assessed at the individual level and not the household.
About 800,000 people have yet to receive the payment because they have not yet filed tax returns that would allow them to get one. They have until next year to file a return demonstrating eligibility, but if 800,000 people are in this boat then it rather undercuts the Government's argument that this is an emergency payment for people struggling now. If 800,000 people can get through the winter without Government support, why should the Government give them $350 summer spending when they file their belated returns?
The total cost of those 800,000 missing payouts will be $280 million - a sum that shouldn't be sniffed at. It's more than twice the $120m increase to Pharmac's budget the Government is making next year.
It plays to the argument made by the Greens' Ricardo Menéndez March in Parliament on Tuesday that the payment should be extended to beneficiaries.
People who receive the Winter Energy Payment, which goes to just over 1 million people on benefits (mainly superannuitants), are excluded from getting the cost of living payment.
The fact that 800,000 people are relaxed enough about their circumstances to leave their payments with IRD only highlights that discrepancy further. Beneficiary and superannuitant households are experiencing cost increases of 6.5 and 6.6 per cent - one imagines these struggling households would be unlikely to leave $350 sitting in a government bank account.
For more from Thomas Coughlan, listen to On the Tiles, the Herald's politics podcast