The Labour-led government's horror start to the 52nd Parliament continues this evening as they've been forced to start filibustering their own legislation as the House has sped through earlier legislation on the Order Paper.
Having commenced the 52nd Parliament by having their bluff called by National over whether they had the numbers to elect Trevor Mallard Speaker, resulting in an embarrassing backdown over Select Committee places, things seem to have gone from bad to worse for Labour.
The next disaster was when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters were away for their first international summit trip, leading Labour Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis in charge. Over the course of three days Davis was torn to shreds in the House during Question Time, appearing to be completely out of his depth and inept. Prime Minister Ardern tried to brush his disastrous performance as him doing exactly what he was meant to do, which begs the question just how bad will it be when she thinks he's done a poor job?
Next was the rather inept keeping of Stuart Nash out of Question Time after he'd put his foot in his mouth over the introduction of GST on online goods. This was followed by Clare Curran bumbling of questions over openness and transparency in government, which has now seen her twice kept away from Question Time with Chris Hipkins having to take her questions instead in what appears to be an admission that Curran isn't up to her role.
In a separate incident, Labour lost an entire patsy question due to the letters of delegation for associate ministers having not been publicised yet.
Labour's ineptitude in the House appears to have been capped off this evening as Labour first deployed its backbenchers, then had to rush eight ministers to the House, including Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson, to filibuster legislation on their own Order Paper. At the time of writing, government MPs are having to literally read subparts of the legislation they're speaking on and make up fluff around it. We've even had a speech on the meaning of the word "is".
What's phenomenal about this is that normally the government treasures House time, there's typically such a demand on it that it's difficult to get new legislation introduced because there's such a backlog to deal with. What we're seeing instead is a government who on the one hand claiming that they're busy, and on the other revealing that they're not so much asleep at the wheel, but that they're completely missing from the car of government, having fallen out of the driver's door some four miles down the round.
And while I was getting this post ready we've had a history lesson on the invention of the telephone, and the Oxford dictionary definition of email and email addresses.
Now there's not necessarily anything too bad about letting backbenchers get some House experience on technical bills, but when you're having to drag a third of your Cabinet back to the House to keep the filibuster going, it's starting to look like bad comedy.