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Bennett wins quote of the year contest

The fact that politicians also have a sense of humour was proved at a nationwide contest conducted by Massey University.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was on top of the list of winners at the ‘2012 Quote of the Year’ competition, with her retort,’ Zip it, Sweetie’ to Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, with 57% of the votes cast by participants.

“It was no surprise. There is something almost primal about two women fighting and the line seemed completely unscripted,” Dr Heather Kavan, a speech-writing specialist at Massey University’s School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, who organised the contest, said.

The jibe was not outrageously cruel and Ms Ardern laughed it off, she said, adding, “Childen seated at the (parliamentary) gallery could be forgiven for thinking that they were watching a Hairspray revival.”

“Zip it, sweetie” was also pleasing to the ear because it has nice rhyming syllables, and a quote that can be repeated in different contexts.

According to her, Marcus Lush teased Hilary Barry on RadioLive that he would tell her ‘Zip it, sweetie’.

Appealing quote

Finance Minister Bill English came a distant second in the competition with his quote estimating the value of selling state assets: “I just want to emphasise that it is not our best guess, it’s just a guess,” he said.

Dr Kavan said Mr English’s quote was also appealing because of its unintentional humour, with an element of schadenfreude, the pleasure of seeing someone in a superior position say something that makes them look stupid.

The judging panel included Dr Kavan, Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey, a former Minister and Labour Member of Parliament.

The panel shortlisted the entries and put them to public vote.

Dr Kavan said that many nominations for the ‘Quote of the Year’ reflected New Zealanders’ interests (rugby, food) and concerns (earthquakes and having enough money to live).

“We can recognise a good quote immediately because we want to say it ourselves, or put it to music. The best lines are usually brief, witty and original,” she said.

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