Opposition performance statistics Q1 2012

In 2010 I blogged two tables (here and here) looking at some “performance” statistics of Labour MPs in 2009. I’ve decided to expand this to include all opposition MPs and make it a regular quarterly feature.

The three criteria are:

  1. No of press releases issued, and the associated rank (1 is most, 56 is least). This is based on a search of Scoop for their name in releases from their party.
  2. No of news stories mentioning them, and the associated rank. This is based on a search of Google News NZ and counting the number of hits, which roughly corresponds to number of distinct stories. The Voxy and Scoop sites are excluded as these report press releases which are covered in (1).
  3. No of written questions asked by them, and the associated rank. This is based on a search of the Parliamentary PQs database. Incidentally this database is seriously stuffed. Each query takes 1 to 2 minutes. Could someone in the Parliamentary Service please fix this. I understand it has been this way for a while. Note that this covers the period from the election to yesterday as the database does not allow you to specify an exact time period.

To some degree the three categories represent inputs, outputs and outcomes. The written PQs are the inputs – the grunt work you do to find out information for your portfolio. Some MPs actually abuse the facility, but overall it is a reasonable indicator of activity.

The media releases are the outputs – how often an MP is actually putting a statement out there for the media to pick up.

The news stories are the outcomes – how often activity by that MP actually makes the news. Of course not all news stories are positive ones, but overall a harder working MP will get more news stories.

I have not surveyed the number of oral questions they ask, or the number of speeches in the House. The reasons for this is that the leadership tend to allocate these out or roster people on for these. It is not the same as MP generated activity.

People may wonder why I have only done these for Opposition MPs. Well Government backbenchers are not actually encouraged to do press releases (except on local issues) or ask PQs. It is only for an Opposition party, these stats make sense. I do plan to publish similar “league tables” for Ministers.

First looking at the parties, they seem to have a very close average to each other for press releases. For media stories the Greens lag behind Labour and NZ First. And when it comes to PQs Labour is massively higher, but that is more due to what I’d call abusive behaviour by a couple of MPs.

For press releases, the five top MPs are Winston Peters, Hone Harawira, David Shearer, Clare Curran and Russel Norman. Interesting that Peters and Harawira put out more releases than the Leader of the Opposition. Also interesting that Curran has such a high number of releases. Also Norman has put out twice as many PRs as his co-leader.

The MPs who have done the least releases are Rajen Prasad (none) followed by Shane Jones, Trevor Mallard and Rino Tirikatene (one each).

For news stories, the top five MPs are David Shearer, Winston Peters, Russel Norman, Trevor Mallard and Grant Robertson. Interesting that Peters gets twice as many stories as Norman, despite being the smaller party. Also Norman has five times as many stories as Turei. Also of interest is how prominent Mallard is in the media for Labour – second only to their leader.

The MPs with the least news stories (as indexed by Google News) are Raymond Huo (1), Asenati Taylor (1), Rajen Prasad (2), Megan Woods (2).

For PQs, the top five MPs are Trevor Mallard (2,936), Chris Hipkins (1,294), Iain Lees-Galloway (428), Phil Goff (245), David Cunliffe (200). While PQs are a good resource that MPs should use, I believe Mallard and Hipkins are abusing the system with massive fishing expeditions that cost tens of thousands of dollars. I will blog later some examples of that. PQs should be used to get information an MP needs, and most MPs should use them more. But a couple should use them less.

15 Opposition MPs have not asked a single written PQ this term.

This shows the output of each MP compared to the median. The simple average is just that. The weighted average applies a weighting of 1/2 to news stories, 1/3 to press releases and 1/6 to PQs. Also to discourage abuse of PQs, the maximum number of PQs counted is 12 time the median, or 200% weighted.

So overall the top of the league table goes to Opposition Leader David Shearer, which is as expected. Second is Winston Peters, then Phil Goff, Russel Norman and Trevor Mallard.

Down the bottom of the league table is is Rajen Prasad whose activity is 5% of the median. Next lowest is Megan Woods at 21% and Parekura Horomia at 26%. Equal fourth lowest are Andrew Williams, Richard Prosser and Shane Jones at 29%.

I’ll publish in July the stats for the second quarter, and we’ll see if there has been any change. Hope to also publish the ministerial stats within a week or so.

Note that of course these stats are quantitative, not qualitative. Just because an MP is being reported in the media, doesn’t mean it is positive publicity.

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