One of the staples of parliamentary theatre is confected amusement, when MPs on one side or another, on cue, roar with laughter like extras in an opera. With Labor MPs struggling to stop themselves grinning from ear to ear this week, there's been little need for fakery. The government's conspiracy theory about Barnaby "The Maungatapere Candidate" Joyce, and its insistence on doubling down on it yesterday in Parliament, turned question time into a farce of an altogether higher order than it normally is. Labor's reaction Julie Bishop feigning outrage over the Great Aotearoa Conspiracy had more in common with the Jerusalem crowd convulsing with laughter at Biggus Dickus in Life of Brian than parliamentary democracy.

This is the conspiracy, by the way, in which the central charge is that Labor shouldn't have tried to establish if the Deputy Prime Minister was constitutionally ineligible to even be in Parliament, as if that doesn't fit the description of one of the core roles of any opposition.