Quotes from Hansard

February 10th, 2009 at 8:04 pm by David Farrar

From Hansard today:

Hon : Can the Prime Minister—or the country—have any confidence in the transparency and honesty of the Minister of Finance, who, while ramming through legislation before Christmas without subjecting it to the scrutiny of a select committee, deliberately suppressed and withheld from the public and parliamentarians the advice he received from his own ministry that the fundamental parts of that legislation were deeply flawed?

Hon : Yes. I have complete confidence in the Minister of Finance. If we want to have concerns about Ministers of Finance, maybe we should have concern for a former Minister of Finance, who may well find himself in breach of the Public Finance Act.

Ouch. Does JK know something or was it just a general reminder? Remember you can be prosecuted for breaching the Public Finance Act.

Hon Phil Goff: Can the Prime Minister categorically assure the House that National is not concealing Treasury advice or other departmental advice against any of the legislation now being introduced in the House today under urgency?

Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, I can confirm that the Government is not concealing any briefings or hiding anything from the House. If the member wants to talk about concealing things, maybe he should go and ask people in his own research unit about that, because the last time I saw them they were concealing the booze from the parliamentary Christmas party.

There were gasps to that one. Talking of which what has happened to the thieves?

David Garrett: Can the Minister confirm that the prefab prison—when it is built—will not have underfloor heating, plasma televisions in every cell, and expensive gymnasium facilities, and that criminals in those facilities will be required to work?

Hon : I can advise that there will be no underfloor heating or plasma televisions in a new prison. Inmates will have appropriate exercise facilities, rather than the type of gymnasium I saw at one of the new prisons built by the previous Government. It seemed flash enough to charge a joining fee and for yearly membership.

Heh annual gym membership fee indeed.

Sandra Goudie: Has the Minister received any other feedback on the cost savings from building prefabricated modular units?

Hon SIMON POWER: Yes. The Leader of the Opposition has criticised the Government’s plan to save taxpayer dollars, stating that “If you are short-sighted enough to build something cheap and nasty you will be rebuilding before very long.”, and “When you are building a public institution, you build it to make it last.” That is a surprising claim, when the four prisons built under Labour, where costs blew out by half a billion dollars, have already racked up $9 million in repair bills.

Amazing what you learn once you are n Government.

Hon : Can she confirm that rather than sitting on its hands, as she claimed, Labour in Government reduced the rate from 7.5 percent to 3.8 percent through active labour market policies that saw 140,000 fewer people on the benefit, and if the previous Government’s policies did nothing, which programmes has she cancelled since she became Minister?

Here Annette tells a big porkie. Labour did not reduce the unemployment rate from 7.5%. It was 6.2% at the end of 1999 and at the end of 2008 it was 4.6% – a 1.6% reduction that averaged 0.18% a year reduction. Incidentially the unemployment rate under National declined by 2.5%, which was an average 0.28% a year reduction. And if you discount the nine months of 1991 before National’s policies such as the ECA kicked in, then the reduction was 4.7%, or an annual 0.57%.

Bottom line is Annette lied, and that the unemployment rate declined far more under National in the 1990s, than Labour during their nine years.

Hon : Why did the Minister reopen the debate on Transmission Gully when it was the preferred route of the previous Government, and continues to be the preferred route of the Wellington region; and is it not a little hollow to claim, as he tried to yesterday, that the Crown contribution was unfunded, when it has been earmarked in the Crown accounts since 2005 when the Wellington regional transport package was first announced?

Hon : I raised it because the previous Labour Government, which was in office for some 9 years, raised expectations regarding this route that were unfunded at the time that it left office. It suggested that $400 million would be allocated to complete the $1 billion project, but left the remaining $600 million to be funded by local bodies in the region. A regional fuel tax was talked of as a means by which that might happen; I am informed by the ministry that a Wellington regional fuel tax in the order of 13.5c per litre would be needed to fund the $600 million that the Government of the time left unfunded, so it could be described as more of a wish than a plan.

Nice line – more of a wish than a plan.

Hon : Does the Minister agree in principle with the proposal for the Government to provide alternative funding for community law centres to ensure they do not need to drastically cut services at a time when demand for those services will inevitably increase; if not, why not?

Hon SIMON POWER: I can assure the member that I am taking this matter extremely seriously. This Government is committed to access to justice for all, not just for those privileged few who can afford to access such redress as that offered by, for example, the Supreme Court. Coincidentally, the drop in community law centres’ funding is roughly equivalent to the $4.3 million that was committed by the previous Government to the bronze plating of the new Supreme Court.

And that’s a home run!!

What I found most interesting is that Lockie is taking a strong line with Ministers about answering the question, if it is the primary question. He basically said that if the primary question is asking for some fact or figure, the Minister must provide that as they have hours to prepare for it.  I think it is excellent that he is raising the bar in this way.

I repeat what I said earlier: where primary questions are laid down clearly, members of the public expect an answer. When Ministers are answering questions, they can expect that the answers they give may be further questioned by members of the Opposition.

I was worried about how Lockwood may go as Speaker as he was not a lawyer or a standing orders expert. But he seems to have turned a potential weakness into a strength, noting today:

Mr SPEAKER: I do not need any further assistance on this matter. I do not want to take up further time of the House. Had the Prime Minister not wished to answer the question, he could have made it very clear that he believed the question was out of order. The Prime Minister seemed to answer it with some enthusiasm. That entitled the Leader of the Opposition to ask a further supplementary question, and I believe that is the way the House should flow, in good order. We do not need to get too precious and pedantic about these things.

This is like a good rugby referee – making sure the “game” keeps flowing. Of course one has to follow the rules, but a but of latitude is a good thing.

Of course not having Winston there does make it a lot easier!

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23 Responses to “Quotes from Hansard”

  1. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    while ramming through legislation before Christmas without subjecting it to the scrutiny of a select committee

    Oh the hypocrisy. Goff sat in support of the EFA[b] while it was rammed through under urgency having been subjected to a sham of a SC process, against the wishes of most of NZ and against the advice of countless better legal and constitutional minds than my own.

    And he has the gall to question the passing legislation that was a cornerstone of Nationals full election campaign.

    Oi Goff… you are limp, pathetic and desperate!

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  2. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    Yes!. Questions being asked and answered. So refreshing!!!!!!

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  3. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    I’d not hoped for much from Lockwood since he was never a profile player in Parliament but these two extracts suggest he’s up for it. I completely agree with strengthening the requirements for meaningful answers and like that he’s cast it in terms of public expectations. Good luck to him, it’s a thankless but damned important job.

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  4. berend (1,711 comments) says:

    DPF: What I found most interesting is that Lockie is taking a strong line with Ministers about answering the question, if it is the primary question.

    Haven’t listened to the house yet, but this would be an extremely welcome change. Just listening to the answers under the previous speaker was already an ordeal. Let alone her shouting and continual repetition “I have ruled on the matter, I have ruled on the matter”. What a disaster. Mr. Smith, I wish you all the best, and remember that ordinary New Zealanders are listening.

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  5. reid (16,518 comments) says:

    What I found most interesting is that Lockie is taking a strong line with Ministers about answering the question, if it is the primary question. He basically said that if the primary question is asking for some fact or figure, the Minister must provide that as they have hours to prepare for it. I think it is excellent that he is raising the bar in this way.

    Yeah and if the MSM have any objectivity whatsoever and/or respect for their own role as Guardians of the Fourth Estate, then they will be, over the next few months, closely comparing and contrasting Smith’s style with Wilson’s and Hunt’s.

    The contrast will become starker and starker.

    The MSM need to leave no doubt in the minds of their readers by using facts and evidence in the form of quotes and examples and repeated editorials and articles from their own opinion columnists, as to which style best serves OUR democracy and why.

    Both Wilson and Hunt deserve utter and complete excoriation for their respective performances. The Speaker’s role is critical in a democracy. If those two don’t get what I think they should, I won’t be surprised. But they bloody should.

    The MSM were onto the EFA, this issue is actually IMO, much more important than that. The performances of both former Speakers were outrageous, unjustifiable, dangerous and cannot be tolerated.

    Only widespread exposure and condemnation will ensure that it never happens again.

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  6. wikiriwhis business (4,019 comments) says:

    who is the shadow minister of finance now

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  7. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    David Cunliffe is.

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  8. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Good stuff by ‘Lockie’.

    This quote was funny:

    Can the Minister confirm that the prefab prison—when it is built—will not have…plasma televisions in every cell…

    ‘Can the Minister confirm that individual prisoners will not have monkey butlers or Speights on tap in their cells?’

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  9. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    have nicked the dalziel burn for a post at no minister David. How did you find the transcript?

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  10. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Transcript of that little gem is here.

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  11. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    BB – the transcript for QT is usually up on the Parliament website by 5.30pm each sitting day.

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  12. William Fussey (45 comments) says:

    Lockwood Smith is proving to be an awesome speaker!!

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  13. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    I am guessing that is more to do with his own feelings, than any speech.

    He is consoling himself, as he is lacking confidence?

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  14. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    “noticed that David Parker had his arms folded for most of his speach”

    It’s a Defensive display.

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  15. Bullitt (140 comments) says:

    I think body language is often overrated, I often have my arms crossed and its not because Im being defensive I just find it comfortable. Though saying that I didnt see Parker so maybe in that case it was.

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  16. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Lockwood is doing well, yes. But also first term govt. Labour were a breath of fresh air (admittedly socialist air) in their first term. The secret to longetivity is how long you stay in touch with “the people.” Key starts off more in touch, but will it last three terms?

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  17. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Well done National for lifting the bar in Parliament.

    I recall some Labour people suggesting Key and his bench wouldn’t be up to the job of dealing with the hardened Labour team. What happened eh?

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  18. Michaels (1,318 comments) says:

    PaulL….. Hopefully JK will pull the plug on himself at the end of the second term.
    Go hard, go fast and get out when the fix up from the fuck up is complete :)

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  19. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Well done National for lifting the bar in Parliament.

    I recall some Labour people suggesting Key and his bench wouldn’t be up to the job of dealing with the hardened Labour team. What happened eh?

    I doubt they will. The first year of a new government’s the easiest since they implement new policies, repeal meaningless bits of legislation and shift funding about… easy, action, news, announcables… easy. He’s already exceed what modest expectations people had.

    It’s when half the programs achieve a third of what was announced and new unpredictable events crowd out the space to do the things you’d promised that the real merit of a government is revealed. Key’s had a good start and I’ll not begrudge him that, he’s done a couple of things I’d not expected and I am thankful for. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to be capable in the medium-term, nor does it magically enable his pretty average front bench.

    I don’t blame his supporters for being bouyed by the first couple of months, but I’d not get carried away just yet. By the way, record numbers of New Zealanders are still moving to Australia, when’s he going to stop that like he promised?

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  20. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,752 comments) says:

    Labour got pasted.

    No starrng role for Helen Clark, has she already turned her back on New Zealand?

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  21. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    Ahhhh, niiiice to see the Key team using some teeth in dealing with their less than honourable opposition; whatever happens to Kullen and Co in the way of official investigations, etc, you can bet that it won’t be half of what they actually deserve.

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  22. Bryan Spondre (225 comments) says:

    For those with an hour to kill you can watch the entire entertaining performance here.

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