The election of Trevor Mallard yesterday as Assistant Speaker will almost certainly take out of play one of the most recalcitrant MPs in Question Time. Mr Mallard will attend question time, which begins again today, but he will take a more passive role. It is impossible to see him as being completely mute but it would also be unheard of to have a presiding officer challenge the Speaker as Mr Mallard has done with regularity.
Labour deputy Annette King quoted from Victor Hugo in talking about the job of Speaker. "Being good is easy; what is difficult is being just."
She asked called on Speaker David Carter to be good and just, then to Mr Mallard said "Trevor, I have no doubt you will be just; but the challenge is to be good."
Former Minister Chester Borrows was elected Deputy Speaker - some insiders have suggested he made himself unpopular with Prime Minister John Key be being too outspoken in caucus - and Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch was re-elected as Assistant Speaker.
Mr Mallard had his first turn in the chair yesterday during speeches from Greens co-leader Metiria Turei and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
The House spent some time with Parliamentary leaders commenting on the election of New Zealand to the Security Council for two years, and then on the death of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
Speaker David Carter will preside over the first question time at 2 pm now that the opening of Parliament, the Speech from the Throne and election of presiding officers is out of the way.
Has 60 seats (59 last time)
National has returned to Parliament with a sense of victory despite having just one more MP from the last Parliament and no change in the total number of votes it has in confidence and supply as the last Parliament: 64 out of 121. But it has been buoyed by increasing its vote by more than 72,000, and securing a third term. It also has an injection of 14 new MPs replacing retiring ones. Two of them, list MP Chris Bishop and Taranaki King-Country MP Barbara Kuriger, were chosen by Prime Minister John Key to make their maiden speeches yesterday, in the debate following the speech from the Throne.
The issues on which it will be immediately vulnerable will be Bill English's handling of social housing policy since the election, John Key's handling of the decision-making around the fight against ISIS, the Government attitude to the Official Information Act and the numerous spin-offs of the Dirty Politics book. Also vulnerable will be new ministers in new portfolios and old ministers in new portfolios.
Has 32 seats (34 last time)
Annette King, otherwise known as the Acting Acting Deputy will lead Labour in the House. She made such a good job of leading Labour in the House yesterday, she may take over Michael Cullen's title as the best leader Labour never had. The four leadership contenders, David Parker, Grant Robertson, Andrew Little and Nanaia Mahuta, will not be allowed to ask any question in the eight Question Times between now and when the new leader is announced on November 18. Instead of allowing Mr Parker to pit his wit against Bill English, Mr Robertson against Steven Joyce, Mr Little against new Justice Minister Amy Adams or Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse, and Nanaia Mahuta against new Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, after today they will be out of Parliament altogether and campaigning.
14 seats (14 last time)
The Greens are trying hard to be absolutely positive despite being hugely disappointed in their election result. They got about 10,000 more votes than last time, got a new MP elected in James Shaw and then got an old MP back from the special votes, Steffan Browning. Metiria Turei may be demanding more speaking time and profile from Russel Norman. They have asked National if they are interested in another memorandum of understanding but the answer will assuredly be no, unless Key wants to start breaking promises because h ruled it out in the campaign.
NEW ZEALAND FIRST
11 seats (8 last time)
Winston Peters is back with a bigger team and an actual increase of more than 60,000 votes (a 41.17 per cent increase). Yet he doesn't look like a winner because he holds no power or particular relevance at present. He will, however, command attention, as he did yesterday delivering homilies to National's new recruits. His biggest baiter, Maggie Barry, has been moved to cabinet ranks, but Peters has found a new target in David Seymour, Act's sole MP and leader.
2 seats (3 last time)
Te Ururoa Flavell is back with a new list MP in Marama Fox, who is likely to become a co-leaders of the party when former MP Tariana Turia steps down from the role. Labour's Kelvin Davis and Winston Peters (who endorsed Mr Davis) could test him as he gets to grip as the new Minister for Maori Development and Whanau Ora.
1 seat (1 last time)
David Seymour went from being a member of a think tank in Canada, to MP for Epsom, to parliamentary leader of Act, to under-secretary, to Leader of Act in a few short weeks. He has already made four speeches in Parliament in just two days: congratulating the Speaker, Security Council seat, Gough Whitlam and his own proper maiden speech in the Address and Reply debate. He won't have to answer questions on charter schools or anything else but he is already a magnet for controversy, having achieved all the above through the patronage of John Key.
1 seat ( 1 last time)
Peter Dunne is back as an MP and a minister but had a 60 per cent drop in the party vote nationwide, down by more than 8000 to just 5286. But he has every reason to behave like the winner he is after scraping back in with a 710 majority from the term from hell including his resignation as a minister over a leaked spy report. He is now fashioning himself as a watchdog of the spy agencies.