National Moves To Drive Labour MPs From
First We Take Parliament Buildings Then We Take The Beehive
Leonard Cohen, a couple of decades back, sang an odd tune about 'taking Berlin' and then somehow 'occupying Manhattan'. Mr Cohen's words could prove prophetic for New Zealand politics in the early 21st century should National prove successful in occupying great swathes of the luxuriantly carpeted Parliament Buildings and then some time hence wrench the Beehive from Labour's steely clasp.
Whilst negotiations are played out for who will form a Government, equally tricky and tense negotiations are being carried out as to who will have a spiffy office in a heritage building and who will be enjoying the brutalist architecture of Bowen House.
At present National looks to be sucking on the sour lemon of electoral defeat, however there is a small sherbet tasting silver lining to their electoral success cloud, their MPs are likely to be all housed in the aesthetically pleasing environs of Parliament Buildings.
New MPs such as Labour's Shane Jones, who has just slid into the second floor offices of John Tamihere, may soon be packing up his treasured photos, notepads and knick knacks and heading for a high rise view of the harbour.
Labour's Chief whip Jill Pettis is currently negotiating with National's Deputy leader Gerry Brownlee over who will go where. Ms Pettis is adamant that she doesn't want to be calling in the movers too often.
"I want all of my caucus members to have their feet firmly under a desk and not having to move three times in as many weeks, "she said.
Labour for its part wants to keep hold of the Whips offices' on floor one of Parliament Buildings possibly in order to utilise this toehold as a mini NZ Guantanamo Bay minus Islamist prisoners. Rather the Whips office would be red Labour territory staring out at a tide of classically conservative blue tinged MPs.
Ms Pettis was unsure whether Labour would be keeping the Speakers' office though, leaving open the possibility that the current Speaker, Margaret Wilson, may not be returning as Parliament's umpire for the latter part of the 2005 season.
At stake for all the MPs is not only the proximity to the Beehive but also the ability of MPs to get a wide ranging assortment of small goods into their bellies. Parliament Buildings is adjacent to the Beehive which houses the the well stocked Copperfields café - sadly for those MPs that end up Bowen House the range of mid morning treats will be limited to cheese toasties and scones made from pre mixed ingredients - rather than love.
Below is a short photo essay that illustrates the high stakes Ms Pettis and Mr Brownlee are playing for.