Public Address presents our weekly round-up of the important events in parliament. This issue: 8th March 2010 to 12th March 2010.
ANYONE FOR SETI?
This week in parliament the Speaker of the House revealed his role as the primary global contact for the SETI programme (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence).
"What this means, basically, is that when ET phones Earth -- I'll be very first person who Dr Werthimer [SETI Chief Scientist] calls on his red emergency telephone," says Dr Lockwood Smith.
You Can't Go Wrong with Grey
"I've known Dan Werthimer for years, ever since I helped him choose the colour scheme for the Allen Radio Telescope Array," recalls Dr Smith. "And following my successful negotiations in the New Zealand-Singapore FTA, Dan was one of the first people to recognize that I was arguably the greatest Minister for International Trade in world history."
"Of course, as far as we know at this point, this also makes me arguably the greatest Minister for International Trade in the Universe," adds Dr Smith. "So naturally SETI were desperate to employ my trade negotiation skills in the event of contact with an alien civilization."
Initially, Dr Smith was part of a four-person committee that also included Princess Diana, Gianni Versace, and Robert Atkins.
"The idea was to have a committee of the world's great visionaries," explains Dr Smith. "But in the end, everyone at SETI realized that this was a mistake. Three-quarters of the people on the committee simply weren't up to the job."
"Happily, however, all of my fellow committee members have subsequently become deceased," says Dr Smith. "And I can't say that I'm sorry. Life at SETI is much easier without their dysfunctional and attention-seeking personalities."
"I'm a much calmer person now," he adds.
KEEP YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM ME, MR JOYCE!
The ongoing feud between the Minster of Finance and the Minister of Transport took a dramatic turn this week, when Bill English accused Steven Joyce of having abnormally large hands.
"Steven seizes every opportunity to 'display' his hands to me," claims English. "And he's always drawing attention to them with comments such as: 'I'll give you a hand with that, Bill' or 'Let's shake on it'. It's quite disgusting."
English says that his working relationship with Joyce has deteriorated to the point where his ability to sleep has been compromised. "Just last week I had a nightmare that I was a kangaroo, and that Steven Joyce was attempting to insert his hands into my pouch. As you can imagine, I woke the whole household with my screaming."
"I think we should stop pretending there's an option here," concludes English. "Steven must undergo surgery to reduce the size of his hands -- if he's to continue as a cabinet minister."
Joyce retorts that English's nightmares are "all in his head".
"I can't help what Bill dreams, can I?" says Joyce despairingly. "The week before last, Bill dreamt that he was a Bactrian camel and that I was trying to put my hand between his humps. I admit that I'm not proud of my hands, but surgery is an extreme solution."
Cabinet insiders claim that English now holds fears for his life.
"It would be quite easy for Steven Joyce to swim from Albany to Southland, and then enact his revenge on Bill," says one cabinet minister, who did not wish to be named. "That would be no distance at all with Joyce's great big flipper hands. I bet he'd be a lot faster than Olympic gold-medal swimmer Danyon Loader."
ONE HUMP OR TWO?
It's been one of the most exciting weeks ever for camels in parliament with hatchet-man Rodney Hide suggesting that the parliamentary camel should be "sent to live on a farm where it would be happier".
Finlayson to Hide: "I Don't Think So!"
But cabinet heavy-hitter Chris Finlayson is trying to put the kibosh on Hide's schemes. "In my opinion, we are below the minimum level of camels right now," insists the Attorney-General. "At the very least we should retain our existing dromedary, and then hire a Bactrian camel to supervise the dromedary as he goes about his daily activities."
Luckily for Hide, his anti-camel crusade has a staunch supporter in the Speaker of the House -- although it does come with a caveat.
"I would be loathe to suggest that parliament could get along without any camels at all," says Dr Lockwood Smith. "But does it have to be a real camel? Why not have a person dressed as a camel -- as I did when presenting my hit children's television programme It's Academic?"
Won't Somebody Think of the Children?
Under the Speaker's proposal, an Olympic-sized swimming pool would be installed in the main floor of the debating chamber.
"During school visits I would entertain the children by swimming lengths of the pool while disguised as a camel," explains Dr Smith. "This would teach them far more about parliament than any amount of so-called 'civics' lessons."
Stick It Up Your Junta, Galtieri!
"As a society, we simply can't continue to produce children with so little knowledge of parliament in general, and the Speaker's role in particular," says Dr Smith. "There's a mere 17 shopping days until the 28th anniversary of the Falkland Islands' War -- which provides us with a timely reminder of where such practices can lead."