Young interviews David Carter

March 30th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar


Opposition parties are frustrated that Mr Carter is not applying the same method as Dr Smith.

Generally Dr Smith would decide whether a question was “straight” or “political” and if he deemed it a straight question he would not accept a political answer – one that contained a political attack on a party.

That was hugely different from the days when ministers could simply use a word from the question and be deemed to have acceptably “addressed the question”, which is the requirement.

Mr Carter has opted for a halfway house. If he believes a minister has not addressed a question adequately, he will allow an MP to repeat it, sometimes several times, and Mr Hipkins has used it to the greatest effect with his questioning over the resignation of Education Secretary Lesley Longstone.

“The reason is he is asking straight questions,” said Mr Carter.

Mr Carter said he thought Dr Smith was the best he had ever seen in action “but I never thought for one minute I would do things exactly as Lockwood did”.

“He tended to paraphrase the question as he saw it and paraphrase the answer as he saw it and then draw a conclusion as to whether the answer was adequate enough.”

Mr Carter said he attempted to do that for the first couple of days but the result was that some MPs sought to bring the Speaker’s comments into a question in the House.

Ultimately if the minister hadn’t given a satisfactory answer, it was not the Speaker’s responsibility, it was the minister’s responsibility.

“At some stage in proceedings you have got to move on and then the Members of Parliament and anybody listening to Parliament will judge the accuracy and ability of that minister.”

I’d make the point that the first months of a Speaker’s regime are always turbulent, and the best time to judge is around four months in.

17 Responses to “Young interviews David Carter”

  1. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    I don’t like Carter as speaker (as a person he is lovely) however, I agree, lets give him a few more months to prove himself. Sadly Lockwood is a hard act to follow, and Carter is unlikely to ever measure up to him. But personally I can’t think of anyone in the house that would do.

    I think we should make Winston speaker – afternoon television would be so much more fun.

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  2. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    Judith, while Lockwood was good compared to previous speakers there is certainly room for improvement on his method of longwinded interpretations – Carter was hammered by the Opposition for trying the same when he took over, now they complain that he’s not the same as Lockwood!

    After his first two turbulent days as speaker Carter showed that he was prepared to learn and apply his own wisdom to the job. He is sticking to his own methods – being slow learners it may take Key and Mallard to adapt and stop abusing the Chair.

    If Carter stays true to his word it won’t be him to blame for a farcial House, it will be MPs who put their own egos ahead of useful debate.

    They should listen to Carter’s words, especially when he points out their abuses – “incredibly unhelpful to the order of the House”.

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  3. Michael (1,065 comments) says:

    Carter is only being tested by the opposition to be more in their favour. Yes, Smith’s great ruling was that addressing the question meant actually answering it if the question was direct and concise. Carter seems to have taken forward by where he sees if the Minister has not answered, then he gives the MP the opportunity to ask again. Rather than interpreting the q&a like Smith did (and Mallard continually complained about).

    As for Mallard and Hipkins, they were both thrown out this week for delibrately defying the Speaker – Mallard for refusing to sit down, Hipkins for trying to debate the Speakers ruling. That Dalziel wasn’t thrown for it as well was probably a near run thing.

    And electing Labour means Speaker Trevor Mallard. While Hunt’s great ruling was that supplementary questions didn’t need to be spread equally for all questions, but could be used up on a single question, he and Wilson were below the required standard for an impartial Speaker. Betcha Mallard would be even more partisan.

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  4. Rodders (1,790 comments) says:

    Agree with what Colin James just said on The Nation (that NZ Question Time is a disgrace.)

    Compare it to UK PMQ’s where there is rarely a point of order raised

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  5. Keeping Stock (12,358 comments) says:

    @ Judith – Carter acknowledges that Lockwood Smith is a hard act to follow, and says that he has no intention of trying to be like him because that’s not his manner. I agree that judgment on his Speakership should be suspended for a couple of months yet. Unfortunately, the likes of Peters and Mallard won’t give him that luxury.

    And yes; how about a rotation of Speakers; one from each party with more than five MP’s. Let’s see how the likes of Mallard, Peters and Gareth Hughes or Russel Norman would do in a job that they are so critical of Carter for.

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  6. peterwn (4,281 comments) says:

    Frankly, I have no sympathy for the opposition, after the treatment Labour dished out to the then opposition 1999 – 2008. However having said that I would prefer Lockie’s approach that Ministers should actually answer the questions, except that a Minister should not be obliged to answer a supplementary following an ‘open’ question, where the topic of the supplementary could have been raised in the main question.

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  7. Neil (598 comments) says:

    Rodders,1789, talked about House of Commons question time. We are,in NZ. a lot better off than in Australia where question time is just a series of political statements where ministers never answer the question directly. Answers are far too long and waste time. The questions in Australia are generally patsy questions.
    Carter must be Carter,. however John Key has to provide leadership by not being “smart”. That reminds me of Michael Cullen’s rapier like comment-we won the election, you lost..

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  8. BeaB (2,512 comments) says:

    Let us remember the point of Question Time here, sadly, is to point score and posture. I hate those stupid points of order on procedure from Peters and Mallard. Time-wasting and of no interest to anyone but themselves. reminds me of PPTA meetings where an hour could be wasted in the placement of a comma!

    I like a bit of a free-for-all as long as Ministers have a stab at answering the question, which, by and large, the National guys do very well and leave the opposition floundering, especially silly Shearer who walks in the trap every time. John Key is a very deft performer. So are Ryall, Joyce, Tolley and Collins with Paula Bennett wiping the floor with Horseface.

    Lockwood was good but he was too longwinded and spent far too much time paraphrasing what was said. So boring. Carter is much more businesslike and brisk.

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  9. tvb (5,510 comments) says:

    Let us not get bogged down on question time which is only a small though highly visible part of the Speakers functions. Certainly Labour Speakers never let opposition questions elicit much information. I am sure Mallard will not if he ever Becomes Speaker

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  10. Rodders (1,790 comments) says:

    Neil – I agree that Australian question time is grotesque.

    I should add that I listened to the debate on Wedesday night and it was a sharp contrast to Question Time – little interjecting, no one having to “withdraw and apologise”, no childish tantrums etc.
    I think that the Speaker receives too much blame for bad behaviour in parliament though. It is the other MP’s who need to start acting their age.

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  11. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    What MPs on all sides need to remember is that they are there as representatives of the voters, and when a question is asked or answered in an ill-mannered or unsatisfactory way, it is the voters of NZ who are disrespected.

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  12. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    I think Carter is an extremely poor speaker and an even worse human being.

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  13. kowtow (13,193 comments) says:

    Too right red,MP’s seem to think that parliament is some sort of play ground where they can score points. They all need to grow up and do ther job we sent them there for.

    Sadly the reality is it has been turned into a feeding trough in which to push their snouts,stay for as long as possible and extract from the taxpaying public the most they can.

    An Establishment Elite out of touch with reality and the voting public that they are sworn to represent.

    Two legs good.

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  14. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    Agree Kowtow, should be term limits on everyone of the useless bastards, no pensions, no perks, and fined $10,000 for every new regulation they introduce without the expunging of an old one. I’m fed up with them and their crusade to change society.

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  15. lofty (1,570 comments) says:

    The opposition parties have let themselves down (no surprises there) in the matter of “dealing” to the speaker.

    Giving him no “settling in time” and attacking him relentlessly as a tactic to unsettle him and the government is no more than bad manners and bully tactics, the watermelons, and labour, alongside the drunk, are just showing their true colours…nasty bastards.
    Fair enough to have a crack at Carter, but at least have some courtesy in allowing him, oh I dont know; say 2 months to establish his modus operandi.

    Redbaiter is quite correct, in that an attack on the speaker, is a direct attack on the voters of NZ.

    Then again as a tactic to draw attention away from the dupliciousness of the labour party leaders overseas forgotten, up to a million dollars account, it is probably understandable.

    God knows the labour opposition now have a “Gillard” type leader who’s dishonesty appears to know no bounds, and a bit of raucus behaviour & defelection from the “account” and a throwing out or two is small bikkies, compared to the spotlight being rightly cast upon Mr Shearer, and his lack of memory and disrespect to the house, by way of non declaration, x 4!

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  16. Keeping Stock (12,358 comments) says:

    Hamnida said I think Carter is an extremely poor speaker and an even worse human being.

    So you know David Carter personally, do you Hamnida? Or is your naked hatred of anyone who dares to hold a view opposite to yours blinding your objectivity?

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  17. frankdb (150 comments) says:

    Watching Key acting up in the house jeering and leering while trying to be the wisecarcking smartarse makes me so angry that all I want to do is punch him in the face. A prize twat if there ever was one. Nowhere else can you get away with that sort of behaviour yet we allow our politicians on both sides get away with this childish carry on. Obviously how the house sits and the behaviour that is allowed needs to be addressed starting by giving a straight answer to a straight question.

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