On the right, Trevor Mallard, Speaker of Parliament. In the center, seated and appearing to listen raptly, Lee and I. I will say parenthetically that the name Trevor Mallard sounds even more comical with a New Zealand accent, at least to my ear… the syllables are accented more evenly than in American dialect and the last part is pronounced just like the word lard. But whatever his name, he is the Speaker of Parliament and that ain’t nothing.
Our freshman MP, Shanan Halbert, has impressed us with his energy. If you hold an event bigger than a child’s birthday party, Shanan will be there and he will take a selfie and he will post it on Facebook.
On that same Facebook page he posted a note saying he’d be having dinner at a nearby restaurant (that we’d already been to and liked) and would anybody want to come? Done. It turned out he’d booked the entire restaurant, meaning there were about 50 or 60 dedicated Labour Party types and a few curious spectators like ourselves.
Trevor Mallard was there in the capacity of after dinner speaker and to present a few people with their Labour Party life membership pins. He told a few stories, which might have been more amusing to him, or at the time, then they were to us, or now. His phone went off while he was speaking, and he gets high marks for having a quack quack ringtone.
Shanan makes the third Member of Parliament I’ve had a conversation with. I’ve been in close proximity with the Prime Minister twice and had my picture taken with the Leader of the Opposition. And none of those interactions cost me a penny. Shanan has office hours every Friday within walking distance of home, and so did my previous MP David Seymour. Of course, that level of interaction with regular people would be impossible for American politicians… It would mean that Congress would have many thousands of members. But it’s amazing and wonderful to feel like politics is so accessible. I wonder how many US problems would recede if there were a similar level of connectedness.