Rubbish (7/23/09)

After 5 days of near perfect weather, Mother Nature remembered its winter here and sent gale force winds and spitting rain. And so, on little sleep and no coffee (I’m still not sure how I’m able to survive that one…) I walked all the way to the Beehive for my first exploration into New Zealand’s government. I was hoping to sit in the Defence committee’s meeting which turned out to be in a completely different building. The woman described it as “the pink building” which I assumed would be easy to find. Turns out there are three pink buildings in sight of the Beehive. I got it right on the second try and got the necessary sticker that I need to prove to my professor that I attended. Finally found the right meeting room, just as all of the MP’s were leaving. So far, a great start to my day.

Since I was already down in that section of town, I decided to wait until the general session of Parliament started that afternoon. I hunted for a decent place to eat and stumbled across this great little dive down an alley next to Parliament. I had my first Fish & Chips in New Zealand and found out that this place sells its entire left over stock for one dollar each. Daily. So when money starts to run out…

After lunch, I headed back to the Beehive for the Question period that opened the General Session of Parliament, receiving yet another sticker:

Parliamentary Stickers

There was a short opening ceremony involving the Speaker of the House, a huge scepter and a prayer. Then questions began. Oh my god. If there is this much yelling and disorder in the US Congress, its obvious why nothing gets done. I expected some hostility between the government (National Party) and the opposition (Labour Party), but not nearly to the extent that it existed. There is a loose sense of order that only results in complete silence when the Speaker demands it. Quite often, members of the opposite party are mumbling about the “rubbish” that they are hearing. One MP read a newspaper and a book before leaving when the debate got too loud. There were plenty of times when I thought I was in a high school cafeteria, not the Gallery of the New Zealand Parliament. But such is politics.

My experience today in Parliament has left me anxious to see more. I’m definitely excited to head uptown again to see different aspects of the governing structure. However, it has also left me a bit confused since I know next to nothing about New Zealand government and an equal amount about the political history of this country. Google has been my friend this afternoon, helping me to learn a little more about the key players in this game as well as some of the recent history of politics. Hopefully next time, I’ll be a little more clued into some of what the MP’s were shouting about.

Bed now, but more again soon.

– Liam

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