The Speaker has given the tick of approval for MPs to
tell others to 'zip it, sweetie' despite a furore after Social
Development Minister Paula Bennett used the phrase today while
trying to silence interjections by Labour's Jacinda Ardern.
Ms Bennett used the term during a raucous exchange in
Parliament about National's Limited Services Volunteer
Ms Ardern had asked Ms Bennett about the drop-out rate - and
then interjected by repeatedly shouting "50 per cent" during
Ms Bennett's reply.
Ms Bennett suggested Ms Ardern "listen to the answer" before
drawing her finger across her mouth and saying: "Zip it,
sweetie. I'm getting there."
It prompted roars of laughter from National MPs, but Labour's
Trevor Mallard was quick to object, telling Speaker Lockwood
Smith it was "exceptionally offensive."
"If that term was used to an MP who was not a younger female
member in that sort of approach, I think you would find it
However, Dr Smith said Ms Bennett's response was "less than
ideal" but she had been provoked by Ms Ardern interjecting.
"Nobody can say that's outrageously offensive ... If we allow
ourselves to get worked up over that we're just being
unnecessarily petty. The solution is simple: don't interject
Ms Ardern was quick to laugh it off on Twitter, saying it was
a first for her.
"Kids sitting in Gallery could be forgiven for thinking they
were watching a Hairspray revival."
However, Mr Mallard got revenge by calling the Speaker
"sweetie" at every possible opportunity.
Other MPs took to Twitter to give their views on the 'zip it,
sweetie' comment. Green MP Holly Walker said it demonstrated
"what an inherently patronising place it is to be a young
She also wondered if the Speaker would have reacted
differently if a male MP had said it.
Afterwards, Ms Ardern said she did not feel patronised, but
did think it was sad.
"Maybe I just make them angry."
It is not the first time other Labour MPs have come to the
defence of Ms Ardern for sledging. National MP Maggie Barry
called out "how many children do you have?" to Ms Ardern -
who has no children - during a debate about paid parental
- By Claire Trevett of the NZ Herald