Most maiden speeches sink without a trace but Michael Cullen’s is still remembered in farming circles because of a jibe he made and yesterday on Agenda he apologised for it:
As the new MP for St Kilda, Dr Cullen said: “I’m proud of the fact that my secondary education was not paid for by the taxpayers of New Zealand but by the farmers of Canterbury and Hawkes Bay [he was given a scholarship to Christ’s College]. I ripped them off for five years then, and I shall get stuck into them again in the next few years.”
Dr Cullen told Agenda: “Oh, don’t go back to that, that was one of the most embarrassing … I want to apologise for that because what happened there was that somebody broke a longstanding convention, interjected on me one minute into my maiden speech, which was pretty unfair.
“I was wound up like a wire. This is my maiden speech in Parliament, you could have twanged me and I’d have played a whole concerto.”
“I want to apologise” is hardly fulsome, although to be fair Agenda wasn’t the time or place for that.
However, the damage was done long ago and the fact it’s taken him this long to acknowledge he shouldn’t have said it means the suspicion he meant it will continue.