Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson topped the ‘List of Quotes of the Year,’ in an annual survey conducted by Massey University.
His famous ‘Gay Rainbow’ speech in Parliament on April 17, 2013 in support of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill received 38% of votes in the Survey.
“One of the messages that I had was that this Bill was the cause of our drought. Well, in the Pakuranga Electorate (from which he was elected) this morning, it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate,” he said amidst laughter.
Dr Heather Kavan, a speech-writing specialist at the Massey University School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, said that Mr Williamson was expected to win.
“This speech had global impact; it had one-and-half million hits on You Tube and famous people including Stephen Fry and Ellen DeGeneres (respectively British and American comedians) liked it. But what made the quote so appealing was its irreverence,” she said.
According to Dr Kavan, several people commented on international social media that, in the countries they came from, no politician would have had the courage to make fun of a priest in a televised parliamentary speech.
“Mr Williamson’s colourful support for the Bill struck a chord with New Zealanders as seven different lines from the speech were nominated. We chose his quote because the speech became known as the ‘Gay Rainbow Speech,” she said.
The Competition Runner-Up, with 16% of the vote, also related to one of the key political issues of 2013: Just what information are government agencies collecting about us? The quote, “The GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) – the only government Department that will actually listen to you” was the first time a non-attributed quote has made the shortlist.
“Several anonymous quotes from social media were nominated but this quote stood out because it was funny and most people can relate to having a frustrating experience with a Government Department.”
Dr Kavan said that the voting pattern in 2013 reflected not only the importance of issues, but also the Kiwi sense of humour.
“While the top three quotes are political, I think a lot of people also voted for the quote they thought was the funniest, rather than for political reasons. The issues are important, especially to those deeply affected, but so is the wit,” she said.