December 7th, 2009
Trans Tasman Roll Call for 2009, our yearly ranking of the country’s MPs.
Trans Tasman’s 2009 Roll Call has elevated Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith to top of its rankings this year.
Each year Trans Tasman’s Editors rank all MPs on the basis of their performance in Caucus, Cabinet, Committee, the House and Electorate and the influence they bring to bear in their various forums.
This year on 9.25 out of 10 Lockwood Smith is top of the pile. Smith gets the nod because of his stellar performance as Speaker. He has been a revelation. A journeyman politician for most of his time in the House, Smith has finally found his niche. His score more than doubles from 4.5 last year to 9.25.
Trans Tasman says “his insistence Ministers answer questions properly swept away decades of ducking and dodging allowed by his predecessors. Runs the House fairly, rarely raises his voice and is a student of standing orders and speakers’ rulings.” He has had regular contact with the media and introduced a new route for the procession so the public could see it.
He created “an overdue infusion of good sense and a real commitment to Parliament.” Trans Tasman says Smith is probably the best Speaker since National’s Matthew Oram in 1950-57.
Trans Tasman says of John Key, who rates 9 out of 10 – “He has been called a political phenomenon, a truly remarkable PM who has proved effective leadership doesn’t depend on decades of Parliamentary experience. Works on advice and instinct, probably more of the latter, with an easy confident manner which tends to hide strong resolve.”
But except for the ETS there have been no really meaty decisions. Key’s vast potential is noted, but the jury is still out on his ability to deliver. And Trans Tasman questions whether both Key and his deputy Bill English have the courage to make hard decisions. English drops from 8.5 last year to 8.
At the other end of the scale is Parliament’s current villain Hone Harawira. Trans Tasman comments – “There are no excuses. His appalling behaviour was a disgrace. An MP with no respect for Parliament and doesn’t deserve to be there.” Harawira rates Zero for his efforts in 2009.
He just pips Labour’s perennial low scorer Ashraf Choudray who moved his score up from 0.5 last year to 1, and National’s Colin King who scores 2 and “may not have noticed National is in power.”
The Labour opposition scores poorly this year, mainly a reflection of the party’s disarray after its heavy election defeat. Of leader Phil Goff, Trans Tasman says he “ hasn’t under-performed. If he’s perceived to have under-achieved its because the country is coming out of a recession and everyone likes John Key.”
“Labour’s caucus functions well, the party held a successful annual conference and apart from early speed wobbles Goff has made the most of his limited opportunities. The first year in
opposition is always hard.” He falls from a creditable 7 as Trade Minister to 5.5 as Opposition leader.
Ironically Labour’s backbenchers have done better in opposition than they did in Government, as many of them now actually have something to do, and seem happy about it.
Pick of the other top National Party Ministers is Simon Power who goes from 8 last year to 8.5 this year – ““A multi-skilled Minister with the ability to handle impressive workloads, Power can also cross the divide between parties and has earned respect from the opposition.”
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