National's first show of power: Grinding Parliament to a halt

National has made its first show of power in Parliament - the power to grind things to a halt.

Simon Bridges let loose a small confusing tornado of democracy by using National's numbers to completely stall the introduction of the new Parliament. 

On the floor of the House, a deal and a handshake were exchanged. National got places on select committees increased to 109. Labour said it would be reducing numbers to 96 - a move National says limits its ability to hold the Government to account. 

It's a warning of just how frustrating National could make the path for the new Labour-NZ First Government.

The challenge came during what will be one proudest days for many politicians - the official opening of Parliament.

Family members watched as members were sworn in. Some MPs gave proud little waves to their families from their new green chairs.

A deal is struck on the floor of Parliament.
A deal is struck on the floor of Parliament. Photo credit: Newshub.

Mums and partners and babies continued to watch as National's Simon Bridges stood to question the Government's ability to elect its own Speaker - Trevor Mallard.

Labour looked completely unprepared for the challenge.

With Labour's David Parker and NZ First leader Winston Peters missing the swearing in due to APEC, Mr Bridges asked whether their votes count. Without them, Mr Bridges implied the Government didn't have the majority vote needed to elect Mr Mallard as Speaker.

It was unclear exactly what the numbers were, but the confusion was all that mattered. 

After some delay, a deal was struck between Labour's whip Chris Hipkins and Mr Bridges and Mr Mallard was elected as Speaker unopposed.

In return, National got what it's fought all of 24 hours for - more places on select committees.

But as it turns out Labour had the numbers all along. It had 58 votes to National's 56.

Mr Hipkins insists he knew Labour had the numbers but says he didn't want a Speaker coming in on a contested vote. 

National MPs will be far from Mr Mallard's biggest fans, but there was no real reason to oppose his selection as Speaker. 

Ahead of the ceremony, Mr English was asked what he thinks of Mr Mallard as Speaker and he had no real complaints.

With National in Opposition, this says any opportunity to stall proceedings will be taken, especially if there is something to be gained.