Let me be absolutely clear on this. The performance of my Labour-led government at the opening of parliament this week went like a dream. Like a dream, it was weird, senseless, and the implications were profoundly disturbing.

But what I want to state for the record is that my Labour-led government is prepared to stand up and be counted. The problem at the opening of parliament this week is that the count was a bit low. Government whip Chris Hipkins sent out a search party. I knew we were in trouble when they didn't come back.

However I can say very, very unequivocally that my Labour-led government put our heads together and eventually got things running like a well-oiled machine.


Chris assembled the machine while I held the oil. Someone passed over a rag and after a bit of kicking it in the guts, someone found the on switch and next thing you know there was a thick discharge of exhaust smoke. When it cleared, there was Trevor Mallard sitting in the speaker's chair. All good.

To be perfectly honest I thought National were out of line in the way they jeered at the performance of my Labour-led government this week.

That's why I stared down Simon Bridges and gave him a bit of what-for. I'm 100 per cent committed to leading a caring government but there's definitely a time and a place to give someone a bit of what-for.

One thing I'm really firm on is that you can be empathetic and have steel. I think that's probably the combination required for government. In fact, you want empathy with a bit of steel behind it, because sometimes you're going to come up against the real detractors from what you're trying to achieve.

So, yeah. Empathy, and steel. Steel, and empathy. A lot of empathy but also a lot of steel. So much steel! Tons of it.

Oh God poor old Paddles.

I said to him, I said, "Listen, mate, you're a complete waste of space. You're no good to anyone. You make me sick, frankly.

"But do you know who else makes me sick? All those delicate little snowflakes melting on the hot surface of reality at the news this week that Jacinda Ardern's cat Paddles has died.
"What a to-do. Did you ever hear so many people going boo-hoo? Not me; I'm through.
"So long, Paddles, with your fleas and your insatiable blood lust for our native birds. Good riddance, mate.

"And good riddance to you, too. Yeah, you. I see you looking at me with a startled look on your face, acting like you're all surprised, like Top candidate Dr Jenny Condie, who I told to resign this week because she's such a pain in the arse.

"Sayonara to her, and hoo-roo to you, too, mate. Ta-ta. Bye-bye, big ears. Pack your bags. Scram. Get the hell out of here. Not another word; I don't want to hear another peep. Shut your mush. Shut it. Shut it. Shut it."

And just like that I turned my back on the mirror.