A PM’s question time

September 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Speaker Lockwood Smith has suggested politicians get together and discuss the idea of having a “prime minister’s ”. Labour MPs were up in arms yesterday after one of their questions to Prime Minister John Key was transferred to Education Minister Hekia Parata during .

Dr Smith said MPs could consider the British example, which is a half-hour question time for the prime minister once a week, at noon.

I think this is a good idea. The UK version is a great exercise in accountability. They key difference with normal question time, is the primary questions are not submitted in advance and the supplementary questions can be basically on anything.

While obviously it has benefits for the Opposition, I think it also benefits the PM. It is a great test of their ability to be over all the major issues and think on their feet. I actually think the current PM would handle such a question time very well.

If there is a change of Government after the next election, it would also be a formidable test for David Shearer!

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16 Responses to “A PM’s question time”

  1. alloytoo (544 comments) says:

    Opposition should also be aware that “I don’t know” may well be an acceptable answer in some cases.

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  2. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    Shearer would get absolutely destroyed if he was subject to this as PM.

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  3. James Stephenson (2,188 comments) says:

    @Cunningham – the other edge of this sword is that it exposes opposition party leaders to direct comparison and competition with the PM, I think Shearer would be absolutely destroyed before he ever gets to PM-ship.

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  4. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    This sounds like a great idea. I agree that Key would probably handle it well.

    Shearer at his current state of development would be tested if he could be pushed beyond his phrase reciting, but hopefully in a couple of years he will knowa lot more and be able to answer eloquently in his own words. A bit more training required – and then he needs to find a way to speak for himself.

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  5. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    “They key difference with normal question time, is the primary questions are not submitted in advance and the supplementary questions can be basically on anything.”

    ………Not much difference really as invariably the Primary question seems to be “Has the Prime Minister confidence in a minister or ministers” and then the supplementaries seem to be about basically anything.

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  6. James Stephenson (2,188 comments) says:

    I think this is a good idea.

    Not least because you’ll no doubt have a PMQ’s live thread running a la Guido…

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  7. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Any excuse for the politicians to fuck around and play more games. Is this actually going to help the country? Or is it just a fun little exercise for MPs to try and catch each other out?

    If a minister is the best person to answer a question, why not let him answer it? That’s how leaders work, it’s called delegation.

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  8. OneTrack (3,112 comments) says:

    “They key difference with normal question time, is the primary questions are not submitted in advance and the supplementary questions can be basically on anything.”

    Then won’t the answer virtually always be “I will have to talk to the minister in charge of that portfolio and get back to you” (because without any advance notice he wont be prepared).

    Are you/they expecting the PM to be the minister of everything. Sounds like just another opportunity for Labour and the Greens to waste more parliamentary time with stupid and inane questions. They have more than enough of that time already and they use it to the fullest extent. They dont need more.

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  9. williamsheridan (63 comments) says:

    I’m with you Tristanb.
    It seems more likely to be an exercise in gamesmanship rather than accountability.
    The cost of this won’t just be in the 1/2 hour of parliamentary time and the opportunity cost of losing that; but there will be vast time and effort spent on preparation and followup by parliamentary staff.
    Open government is good…. but for goodness sake lets get on with making the country run better rather than picking over its entrails.

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  10. JeffW (326 comments) says:

    Did anyone see Tony Blair perform during PMQs? He answered with great lines and wit but not necessarily anything to do with the question posed. Not sure it contributed much apart from allowing Blair to look good.

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  11. Mike Wilkinson (71 comments) says:

    I agree the British case is something to think about, JeffW. I never saw him perform, but Tony Blair did write at length about PMQs in his auto-biography: they were something of a nightmare for him.

    Creating a New Zealand form of PMQs might, however, be a good way of holding our Executive more to account. Prof. Nicholas Aroney argued that this was a significant weakness of NZ’s parliamentary system, when he wrote this paper in favour of creating a second house of parliament: http://www.maxim.org.nz/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/A%20Tale%20of%20Two%20Houses.pdf

    As I imagine some would love to see John Key held more to account, imagine if Helen Clark had been treated similarly during Labour’s recent three term government.

    Cheers,
    Mike

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  12. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    wash your mouth with carbolic soap out DPF……………

    Your even thinking that there might be a change in government must mean youve missed your medication this morning…..

    But alas you might be partially right. It will still be a right leaning govt but theyll have an ornery partner/s – and they wont be Act or maori or UF. It will be CP !!!!!! and possibly even (horror of horrors) NZF………

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  13. Agent BS (10 comments) says:

    The thought of David Shearer doing an unrehearsed question time sickens me. The guy cant handle answering pre-vetted questions he has studied. Please God, no – parliament is already a shambles.

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  14. DJP6-25 (1,388 comments) says:

    Good idea.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  15. KH (695 comments) says:

    Why. The Prime Minister is chairman of the board, not the whole government. The job is overcooked.

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  16. Michael (910 comments) says:

    PMs Question time would be an outstanding success in New Zealand for Muldoon, Lange, and Bolger. Key I think would manage it, Clark would have coped. Shipley and Rowling would have been destroyed by it. Having not witnessed any earlier PMs I won’t comment on them, but suspect Kirk would have been outstanding and the rest been sucessful in their own way.

    As opposition leaders, Rowling, McLay, Clark, Shipley, English and Brash would have been hopeless at it and it would have ended their careers earlier (or prevented their leadership) as they’d see big hits going to better debaters. (Goff as PM for nine years!) Shearer I think won’t cope, he seems to go to pieces when put on the spot – expect a poor Labour Party campaign in 2014.

    Seeing Lange and Muldoon going head to head in Parliament every week would have packed the galleries!

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