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Winners And Losers One Year On From Election

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Richard Worth
Richard Worth

Some MPs could try harder, some get a gold star and one or two have not achieved on NZPA's report card one year on from National's election victory. MAGGIE TAIT rates the performances.

Wellington, Nov 5 NZPA - Some MPs' stars rose, others orbited at a distance, National's Richard Worth went super nova, exploding spectacularly then vanishing.

Dr Worth was not the only MP to resign in the year since the election but his fall was the most startling -- quitting after a scandal involving a Korean woman, a hotel room and a police inquiry.

As sub text there was another allegation of exchanging inappropriate texts with a Labour Party woman.

Dr Worth resigned his ministerial role on June 2, and 10 days later quit Parliament.

Nor did Labour's former leaders Helen Clark and Michael Cullen see out the year, having lost the election.

Green MP Sue Bradford followed them out of the House, after losing the party's co-leadership battle to Metiria Turei.

Some of MPs who stayed on must have wondered whether the leavers got the better deal.

Finance Minister Bill English had a particularly tough year; despite his careful management of the economy he was mired in the MPs' expenses controversy.

It emerged that the English family stayed on in their Karori house in Wellington after the election, but leased it to the Government as an official residence and garnered higher allowances.

It was a bad look for Mr English, who seemed to be telling others to tighten their belts while raking it in himself.

Mr English paid back the extra allowance, and then everything he had received since becoming a minister, vowing not to claim anything in future.

Even that didn't end the constant barrage of questions he had to face.

Labour MP Chris Carter also got tarred by the expenses row.

He spent up large on international travel and was unrepentant, instead accusing the news media of gay bashing because part of the bill was to pay for his partner to go along for the ride.

Last month Mr Carter managed to get more of the wrong kind of attention, after comparing Prime Minister John Key with Italy's fascist World War 2 dictator Benito Mussolini.

One MP who "does not play well with others" was Labour's Trevor Mallard. A keen cyclist, he recently got into a stoush with a motorist and was the first MP kicked out of Parliament under Speaker Lockwood Smith's reign.

National MP Paul Quinn also headed straight for the naughty corner -- the former first class rugby player got in a tiff for pushing a cameraman in the media scrum, and took an aggressive approach in select committees.

ACT MP David Garrett struggled to remove his foot from his mouth. In a select committee he told prison guards making a submission they had hurt future job prospects.

He even had to apologise for an apology -- he caused offence by suggesting lewd comments he made to a woman parliamentary staff member in would have been acceptable in Tonga.

There were plenty of "could try harders" on the Government benches.

Backbencher Melissa Lee may have hurt her future career with her gaffe-ridden performance during the Mt Albert by-election.

Best clangers: saying she only earned $2 an hour when she was on a $131,000 salary plus extras, and that a new motorway would divert South Auckland criminals away from the Mt Albert electorate.

She also complained of contact dermatitis from shaking too many hands.

Ministers who failed to shine included Kate Wilkinson, who created confusion and failed to sell the government message in her areas; and Anne Tolley also struggled to get across policy goals.

Labour leader Phil Goff "needs to apply himself better". Though he diligently chipped away at the government he failed to gain traction and his poll ratings were poor.

Other Labour MPs can share the blame. Lack of attention to Labour was not helped by negative coverage -- some generated by Rick Barker running a poll manned by volunteers who were told it was OK to use fake names and say they were from a company that no longer existed.

There were plenty of winners -- no star shot higher than Mr Key's. His personal poll rankings remained incredibly high and he has successfully managed relationships with the Maori and ACT support parties.

Dr Smith has revelled in his role as Speaker, expecting ministers to ask questions and the opposition not to waste time.

In Cabinet, Tony Ryall kicked off his new job as Health Minister with his competent and conscientious handling of the swine flu scare while Simon Power has handled a whole array of justice legislation without politicising issues.

Steven Joyce was new to Parliament and went straight into Cabinet but proved himself to be a safe pair of hands.

Nick Smith has shown his experience handling the two most difficult bills the Government had this year -- on ACC and the emissions trading scheme (ETS).

ACT leader Rodney Hide handled the super city changes competently but did not get all he wanted in changes to local governance. He also blotted his copybook by taking his girlfriend on a ministerial trip paid by the taxpayer.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples seemed to be able to get his way with a Government desperate to retain good relationships. He floated increasing benefits as a trade-off for the ETS and even though this was in no way on the government's agenda they would not rule out the idea. Dr Sharples later agreed it wasn't on the agenda.

His backing of Maori Television resulted in Mr Key stepping in to ensure it led a bid to screen Rugby World Cup games.

Labour's Phil Twyford fought hard on the super city and Chris Hipkins created some sparks. Jacinda Ardern showed herself to be a good debater who does her homework and knows her stuff.

Charles Chauvel did heaps of work on the ETS and the same went for David Parker on ACC. David Cunliffe stepped up to his finance spokesman role.

So that's their first year internal assessment. In two years the MPs will face their all-important external assessment, the 2011 election.

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