The low profile MP for Waitaki, Jacqui Dean, perhaps better known back in the 80s as Jacqui Hay, a presenter on the children’s’ TV show, “Playschool”, today demonstrated a firmness in the Chair which the current Speaker might well take note of.
Ms Dean chairs the Justice and Law Reform Select Committee which is hearing submissions on the Bill to set up a referendum on the flag.
That meant she had to deal with Winston Peters who arrived flanked by NZ First MPs Ron Mark and Tracey Martin to make his submission opposing the Bill. But before he began he announced that he wanted 10 minutes.
Ms Dean said he was getting five.
Eventually she relented and suggested he “launch into it” and she would see how he went.
Almost exactly ten minutes later he completed his rambling submission
He announced that he was ready to answer questions.
Labour MP jacinda Ardern was also ready to ask him one — maybe she wanted to know what his submission was trying to say.
But Ms Dean was having none of it. She simply thanked Mr Peters for coming along and said (with a straight face) “we do appreciate it”.
However Mr Peters wasn’t going to take politeness for an answer.
“Sorry Madam Chair, we’ve got a question over there and I’d like to answer it,” he said.
Ms Dean: “Well, I’d like to thank you for coming along today and I have ruled that …
Mr Peters (interrupting): “That there will be no questions!”
Ms Dean: Excuse me, your five minutes has been well used and I’d like to thank you for coming along.”
Mr Peters: “This sounds like an awful gerrymander to me. Thank you very much”
This was followed by a snort and Mr Peters and his fellow MPs then stalked off with him muttering about the Committee being a gerrymander.
Of course the real question is why MPs are allowed to make submission to Select Committees at all. Surely they have enough opportunities to put their views through the Parliamentary Debating Chamber?
Perhaps Ms Dean could Chair the Flag Referendum Bill debates in the Chamber.