Thursday was the final sitting day of Parliament before the election.
Next Wednesday at 11am it officially dissolves in a public ceremony on the steps of Parliament - you’re welcome to attend or a bit of local pomp and spectacle.
By then the MPs will be long gone and waist-deep in campaigning in their home electorates. Even before Parliament ended they were ankle deep, at least.
On Wednesday the House had sat until nearly midnight, until they’d run through the week’s to-do list - except for two things.
On Thursday the final order of business was the Adjournment Debate; the final free-for all and farewell. And before that the final Question Time.
Being the last day there was definitely an end-of-term feel to the chamber, but that didn’t stop serious questions from being asked.
For example Gerry Brownlee had questions about the reported somnolence of quarantine security guards. Paul Goldsmith wanted to know about the money and Chris Bishop had transport queries etc.
But it wasn’t all deadly serious.
After a couple of more earnest questions to the Minister of Finance about recent labour market data Labour MP Kiri Allen had a follow-up that was very end-of-term:
“What did the HLFS, QES, and LCI say about wages, and how will the Government's investment from the CRRF, including the IRG projects administered by the CIP, and the PDU support wage growth through the lens of the LSF and the CPF priorities?” - Kiritapu Allan
“OMG! I thank the MP for the OPQ. According to the QES, wages were up 1.2 percent from a year ago, while the LCI said wages were up 2.1 percent in the year to the end of June—so not OTT. But the CRRF contains a range of investments, not only in the IRG but also in MSD, MBIE, IRD, MOE, and MPI, all to generate sustainable jobs and wages from New Zealanders. I could go on, Mr Speaker, but I thought it might be TMI. So I very much look forward to updating this House on the results of the next HLFS, QES, GDP, PMI, and CPI, but, first, we've got to duck out for an election—BRB.” - Grant Robertson
(You can find a translation at the bottom of this article)
Maybe the staff in the Minister of Finance’s office have finally popped a sprocket after three years of swimming in economics acronyms; or possibly they were just acknowledging how a lot of their data appears to most of us much of the time.
And the third major theme of this last question time was various ministers trying the Speaker’s patience with long lists of policy achievements.
The lists were long and the governing MPs were loving it. The Speaker less so. When (after the third list from the third MP to give one) he thumped his verbal hammer, the MPs were palpably disappointed.
It’s almost like they don’t want to leave.
An attempt at an acronym translation
“What did the HLFS (Household Labour Force Survey), QES (Quarterly Employment Survey), and LCI (Labour Cost Index) say about wages, and how will the Government's investment from the CRRF (Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund), including the IRG (Infrastructure Reference Group) projects administered by the CIP (Crown Infrastructure Partners), and the PDU (Provincial Development Unit) support wage growth through the lens of the LSF (Living Standards Framework) and the CPF (___ Public Finance?, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility?, consumption possibility frontier?... sometimes economics has too many acronyms to choose from) priorities?” - Kiritapu Allan
“OMG! (Oh, My God!), I thank the MP for the OPQ (Oral Primary Question). According to the QES (Quarterly Employment Survey), wages were up 1.2 percent from a year ago, while the LCI (L:about Cost Index) said wages were up 2.1 percent in the year to the end of June—so not OTT (Over the Top). But the CRRF (Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund) contains a range of investments, not only in the IRG (Infrastructure Reference Group) but also in MSD (Ministry of Social Development), MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment), IRD (Inland Revenue), MOE (Ministry of Education), and MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries), all to generate sustainable jobs and wages from New Zealanders. I could go on, Mr Speaker, but I thought it might be TMI (Too Much Information). So I very much look forward to updating this House on the results of the next HLFS (as above), QES (as above), GDP (Gross Domestic Product), PMI (Performance of Manufacturing Index), and CPI (Consumer Price Index), but, first, we've got to duck out for an election—BRB (be Right Back).” - Grant Robertson