Dom Post on Speaker

December 9th, 2008 at 1:38 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post Editorial also calls for an improvement in :

In theory, question time is one of the cornerstones of a parliamentary democracy, The writes. It gives the Opposition an opportunity to hold Government ministers publicly accountable for their stewardship of their portfolios.

In practice it is a farce. Names are called, tempers fray and points of order are endlessly relitigated.

As we saw today, with stupidity over electing the Deputy .

The root cause of many of the shenanigans is the standing order that requires ministers to “address” questions, but does not require them to answer them.

Instances happen every day.

Take just one example. In September, ACT leader Rodney Hide attempted to quiz then broadcasting minister Trevor Mallard about a 2004 TVNZ interview in which serious allegations were made about fishing company Simunovich Fisheries. The broadcast could be viewed on a blogger’s website, he informed Parliament. Had Mr Mallard seen the site or received any reports about it?

Mr Mallard responded by referring him to a different site that had nothing to do with the matters raised by Mr Hide, but ridiculed National leader John Key.

Mr Hide complained. Speaker Margaret Wilson ruled in Mr Mallard’s favour. “The member may not be satisfied with the answer and others will judge the quality of it, but it was addressing the question of blogs.”

The blog in question was Whale Oil, incidentally. But it is a good example. Serious criminal allegations involving perjury to a select committee were the topic of the question, and the Minister treated it as a joke and wouldn’t even give a straight answer to whether he had seen the leaked tape.

It would be naive to think that National ministers, who have spent the past nine years suffering at Labour’s hands, were now going to turn the other cheek and answer questions in a straightforward manner. But new Speaker will do himself and his National Party a favour if he insists on a greater degree of relevancy in ministerial answers.

Indeed.

A Speaker’s reputation is inextricably linked with that of the Parliament over which he or she presides. A government’s reputation is influenced by the way its members conduct themselves in the debating chamber – the theatre in which their actions receive the greatest scrutiny. That is something Labour forgot at its cost during its last term in office.

Labour’s sense of entitlement was very vivid in their last term.

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11 Responses to “Dom Post on Speaker”

  1. PhilBest (4,757 comments) says:

    Oh, I don’t know, is there anything noble and virtuous that is observed by conservative governments that is actually reciprocated by the socialists once they are back in power again?

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    In practice it is a farce. Names are called, tempers fray and points of order are endlessly relitigated.

    As we saw today, with stupidity over electing the Deputy Speaker.

    No. That wasn’t endlessly re-litigated. Cullen took a point of order. The Speaker ruled in his favour, and then proceeded to ignore the fact that he had just ruled in his favour. Cullen then called him on it. This is an important principle.

    The points of order (and their re-litigation) referred to by the DomPost were frequently not of such a nature.

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  3. georgedarroch (303 comments) says:

    So, will National answer questions?

    We already know that Labour didn’t.

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  4. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    What a farce. Where were the protests during Labour’s tenure? Now all of a sudden ‘addressing the question’ draws comment?? After nine years of Labour’s bullshit, suddenly National needs to buck up?? What a useless partisan rag that Dominion is. Go broke you useless propagandizing bastards, and hurry up about it. A disgrace to journalism.

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  5. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    “We already know that Labour didn’t.”

    So what the damn hell did you say about it at the time Georgie??

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  6. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    Although I sincerely hope we can get some order and adult conduct back into parliment, Rebaiter is right. During Labours time in office the MSM thought it was amusing and enjoyed it when the polies dished the dirt and the opposition couldnt get straight answer to a serious question. Now they want a greater degree of relevancy.

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  7. georgedarroch (303 comments) says:

    “So what the damn hell did you say about it at the time Georgie??”

    As much as I’m saying now. I described it as an insult to democracy. I also emailed Wilson on several occasions to ask that ‘addressing the question’ actually meant addressing it in a substantive and non-insulting way. She blathered on about precedent, and gave a narrow interpretation of the standing orders, to which I replied that I didn’t care about precedent, and I wanted the spirit of the orders followed rather than the letter.

    The Greens were often criticising Labour on this issue too – but Labour weren’t interested in listening to their critics at all. I hope National change things, but I’m not hoping too much. I’ll have enough to criticise National for, I don’t want to have to bitch about this issue as well!

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  8. georgedarroch (303 comments) says:

    377 Contents of replies
    […]

    (2) The reply to any question must be concise and confined to the
    subject-matter of the question asked, and not contain—
    (a) statements of facts and the names of any persons unless
    they are strictly necessary to answer the question, or
    (b) arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets or ironical
    expressions, or
    (c) discreditable references to the House or any member of
    Parliament or any offensive or unparliamentary expression.

    In particular, section 2 (b) would disqualify a very large number of answers in the last parliament.

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  9. side show bob (3,410 comments) says:

    Let the lefty bastards eat cake.

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  10. Buggerlugs (1,241 comments) says:

    Fuck the Dom Post – they never kicked up about it in the last nine years.

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  11. Ian Llewellyn (20 comments) says:

    David you continue to attract a certain audience of very angry people, and I hesitate to even intervene in the nasty stuff that is said.
    But to say ministers should get up and answer questions over defamatory, unsubstantied slurs on people is a stretch.
    The blog you refer to and say has the right to have questions answered about the questions it raised also accused a minister of rape and a massive conspiracy to hide that.
    Your blog and your comment writers linked to that with some glee.
    I have been unable to find any truth to these allegations.
    If you think it is true, you and whale oil should lay a complaint with the police, but it appears it was all just made up.
    When caught out the blog claimed it had been the subject of a conspiracy from the Beehive. This was nonsense.
    If it was me I would sue for some of the filth that is being spilled, but luckily for you guys those who have been defamed think blog land is irrelevant
    This sort of follows the nasty stuff spread around Peter Davis. Does your audience even know yet that it was all lies?
    There is a sort of lesson here, you can repeat a lie over and over, but you will never make it true except for those who really want to believe it

    [DPF: Ian – I think you are confusing some different things. The video being referred to in the House was filmed by TVNZ and had a fisherman state he perjured himself before a select committee. I can think of few things more important to be investigated, and that is what both the Dom Post and myself were referring to – such serious allegations deserve serious answers. The blog aspect just happened to be the medium the video was made public – but it was a TVNZ interview.]

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