Carter rules out London

May 6th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Speaker David Carter has slapped down speculation he wants a top diplomatic posting – after New Zealand First leader Winston Peters intimated he would block such an appointment if in power.

After Mr Peters’ comments yesterday, Mr Carter has taken the unusual step of delivering a press statement to press gallery reporters, denying he wanted a change of job.

“Despite persistent media speculation, it has never been my interest or intention to become New Zealand’s High Commissioner in London,” the statement read.

“I am honoured to be Speaker of the House of Representatives. I enjoy the role, and intend to carry on with that role as long as I have the confidence of the House.”

High Commissioner to Britain Sir Lockwood Smith will step down early next year when his term ends.

This afternoon Foreign Minister Murray McCully said a decision on his replacement was in its final stages and focussed on one candidate, who was not a politician.

“I can tell you that Mr Carter’s name has not featured … we have somebody in prospect for London, who is not a Member of Parliament … I’m not expecting Mr Peters to be very upset when he finds out who it is.”

Anyone who knows David Carter knows that he was not wanting to be the High Commissioner to the UK.

In a speech to students at Victoria University yesterday, Mr Peters attacked the “brorocracy” of recent diplomatic appointments.

“As an example of how meritocracy has been abandoned in favour of a mainly white brorocracy look no further than how some of our high commissioners and ambassadors are being appointed.

The hypocrisy is high with this one.

Winston is the guy who lobbied Helen Clark insistently to make Owen Glenn the Honorary Consul to Monaco, after Glenn paid off his legal bills for him.

Young calls Labour MPs bullies

December 7th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The committee often known as the “powerful” privileges committee has an unusually full agenda owing to some blatant breaches of parliamentary standards by the Labour Party.

Labour leader Andrew Little has led a mini-revolt against the established protocol of showing respect to the Speaker, or at least not demonstrating disrespect.

The problem with the leader instigating such a revolt is that it leaves no place for the party’s wiser heads to go.

Little has dragged Chris Hipkins, chief whip, and Grant Robertson, shadow leader of the House, into the fray with him.

They must back up Little publicly or leave the leader out on a limb. There is really no choice. Instinctively they back him.

With all three on the case of the Speaker, it leaves Labour looking petty, always arguing the toss, not concentrating on the issues that matter, blaming the referee.

They may have convinced themselves their attacks on the Speaker define them as fighters to the core, but they often come across as bullies.

It’s a good way to view it. They are picking on the only MP in Parliament who can’t fight back – the Speaker. His job doesn’t allow him to respond to their jibes. They can’t actually win against MPs who can answer back, so they go for one who can’t.

There has been one egregious error by the Speaker this term, in letting the Prime Minister get away with claims that Labour supported murderers and rapists.

But Labour and Little’s constant clash with the chair smacks more of frustration that the party is not making gains where it wants, in hits against the Government or its own policy triumphs.


The matter that has the Labour leader and senior whip, Little and Hipkins, before the privileges committee is even more serious than Dyson’s.

They suggested widely in media interviews that the Speaker had acted on the instructions of National to postpone a private member’s bill in the name of Little from being introduced, after it had been drawn out of the ballot.

It went further than a general allegation of bias to a specific suggestion he had taken instructions from the Government.

It’s one thing to make a general accusation of unfairness or bias, but Little just invented a conspiracy theory that is defamatory.

The rules clearly state that a bill that is substantially the same as another cannot be introduced again in a calendar year – and Little’s bill on a warrant of fitness for rental property was virtually the same as his colleague Phil Twyford’s that had been tied 60-60 on a vote taken before Winston Peters won Northland and brought in another list MP for the Opposition.

Little wanted to have another go with a similar bill in the hope of embarrassing National with a 61-60 victory for the Opposition after Peters’ win, excepting his bill was not different enough.

The Government agency in charge of WoF standards would be the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, not Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, as in Twyford’s bill. The policy was the same.

Labour deserved to be annoyed and disappointed. Its staff had sought advice from the Office of the Clerk on the bill and had been assured by someone in the Tables Office (where members’ bills are lodged) that Little’s bill would be acceptable.

But straight after it was drawn, the new Clerk of the House, David Wilson, decided otherwise.

He told me this week he became aware of the Tables Office advice only on the day it was drawn from the ballot: “I did not agree with the advice. Since all staff of the Office of the Clerk act on behalf of the Clerk, if they make a mistake, it’s up to me to correct it. It was on that basis that I advised the Speaker [to postpone the bill to the next calendar year].”

Instead of accepting the Clerk’s word, Little and Hipkins went straight for the Speaker’s jugular with no evidence of wrongdoing.

So unless Little is claiming the Clerk of the House is lying, then he should withdraw his allegation against the Speaker. The Speaker merely acted of the advice of the Clerk.

Dunne now independent for parliamentary purposes

June 25th, 2013 at 2:18 pm by David Farrar

Speaker David Carter has ruled that as United Future is no longer a registered political party, it is no longer eligible to be recognised as a parliamentary party under Standing Orders. Hence Peter Dunne is now classified as an independent MP.

This means he loses $122,000 of annual leader and party funding. Also he no longer has the right to speaks on motions where all party leaders get to speak.

However the Speaker also indicated that if they do get re-registered they will likely again be recognised as a parliamentary party, so he is likely to regain his former status in a couple of months or so.

Long may it last

June 7th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is calling on Speaker David Carter to explain why he went against standing orders in Parliament today and would boycott Parliament until he did.

Excellent. Long may it last.

NZ First MPs and Labour’s Trevor Mallard have walked out of Parliament in protest after Speaker David Carter allowed United Future MP Peter Dunne to keep the extra funding and entitlements that come with being a party leader, despite the de-registration of his party.

Mr Carter announced the decision today but both Labour and NZ First objected, saying if Mr Dunne’s party was not registered then it clearly did not meet the rules required for those resources.

Maybe Winston should pay back the $158,000 he owes taxpayers before he tries to take the moral high ground.

As for whether Dunne is eligible to retain his extra funding, the Standing Orders are not clear on this. What Carter has effectively ruled is that as Dunne was the leader of a party when elected at the beginning of this term – that applies throughout.  I think it an arguable decision either way, but Peters is wrong to say the decision is against standing orders. The standing orders are unclear on what happens if a party is deregistered. Graeme Edgeler has blogged on this at Public Address.

After objecting, Mr Peters said that if Mr Carter did not produce the legal advice he based his decision on, then his party would boycott Parliament until that happened.

But as usual, he lied. They’re back already.

Young interviews David Carter

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

Audrey Young writes:

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 Speaker 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.


March 28th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Speaker David Carter has ejected MPs from the House for the first time, kicking out Labour’s Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins this afternoon.

Mr Mallard was told to leave the debating chamber after telling Mr Carter to “sit down ’til I’m finished” during question time.

Let there be no mistake. Any MP who ever acts that arrogantly to the Speaker will be kicked out of the House – at a minimum. Actually damn lucky not to be named.


Norman on Carter

March 22nd, 2013 at 6:41 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Greens co-leader Russel Norman has written an open letter to new Speaker David Carter urging him to return to the rulings set down by his predecessor Lockwood Smith or risk increasing disorder in the House.

Smith instituted a new regime that ditched the old requirement for ministers to merely ”address” a question in favour of a tougher requirement to answer a direct question where possible.

But opposition MPs have been frustrated at what they see as Carter’s shift away from that.

Norman is due to meet Carter soon to discuss the letter.

In it Norman said he felt compelled to write after sitting through ”another chaotic question time”.

He said Smith’s rules in summary were that “a straight question will get a straight answer” and that delivered a more orderly and effective question time.

I thought the straight question gets a straight answer rule was a very good one, so in that regard I agree with Norman.

What I’m not so sure about is whether that rule is or is not still being applied. I simply have not watched enough question time to judge. I would make the point that there remains a difference between a primary question and a supplementary. A straight primary question should get a straight answer. A supplementary question which is seeking very specific data may often be unable to be answered unless it was very tightly connected to the primary.

Armstrong on Carter

March 15th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Taking over as Parliament’s Speaker after Lockwood Smith’s departure for the High Commissioner’s job in London was never going to be easy, no matter whom the Prime Minister hand-picked for the role. …

David Carter, Smith’s replacement, knows his initial months in the job will be judged by how close his management of the House follows the Smith doctrine.

Carter, however, has made it clear that when it comes to improving ministerial accountability, it will be done his way – not Smith’s.

The latter’s tougher stance on ministers’ answers benefited the Opposition. Labour then proceeded to push the boundaries, complaining that just about any reply did not properly answer the question.

Carter has his own solution – to embarrass the minister answering the question by immediately telling the Opposition MP to put the same question again. And again if need be.

This may not seem much of a sanction, but it makes the answering of a question to the Speaker’s satisfaction something of a test of competence. …

The other noticeable change under Carter’s regime is to allow more latitude for interjections and barracking from all sides of the House – an acknowledgment that the chamber is the principal venue for the display of political passion.

Carter also deserves credit for keeping one of Smith’s time-saving innovations – blocking MPs from trying to table documents to make a political point when those papers are freely available elsewhere.

It is still far too early to say how Carter’s tenure will end up rating the in the long list of Speakerships. As far as the Opposition is concerned, the jury is still out.

What is clear is that Carter will apply the same approach he has employed throughout his political career – to quietly and slowly build respect among both political friend and foe for handling things in a commonsense, unfussy, and unspectacular manner.

I haven’t watched question time much in the last month. How do people think Carter is going as Speaker?

Speaker Carter

February 13th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes at Stuff:

As new Speaker David Carter began his first full sitting day in the job, Winston Peters started as he meant to go on, too: “Pointofordah!”

This is usually the first thing out of the NZ First leader’s mouth at question time – but this was before the first question had even been asked. Mr Peters’ urgent problem with Mr Carter was “the regalia you’re wearing”. What was the background of the feathery capelet bedecking the Speaker’s shoulders?

Mr Peters’ mockingly querulous tone – “because we’re full of curiosity” – made it clear he was really asking: “What the heck have you come as?”

Mr Carter decided not to take offence, however, and explained good-humouredly that it was a Maori gift, symbolising “goodwill, honour and peace to the House”.

Mr Peters laughed delightedly as if he’d just heard the punchline to a good joke – though there was an immediate outbreak of goodwill in the form of House-wide applause for Mr Carter.

Save for a little cantankerous sniping later from the usual suspects, Mr Peters and Labour’s Trevor Mallard, and a bit of cheek from Green co-leader Russel Norman, Mr Carter had a reasonably undemanding workout.

I thought it was a good first outing for Speaker Carter. What was pleasing is that when Ministers didn’t answer a factual question, he allowed the Opposition MPs to re-ask the question (without it having to count as an additional question) until the Minister answered.

The funniest aspect was in relation to question 11 from Chris Hipkins to Hekia Parata about which, if any, particular decisions she regretted. Trevor Mallard got up before the question was even asked and started quoting several Standing Orders and Speaker’s Rulings. I, like most, was busy looking up the orders and rulings being referred to until at the end of his point of order he revealed that he was suggesting to the Speaker he be lenient if the primary answer is longer than is normally allowed. Very very funny, and a nice reasonably subtle (for Trevor) use of points of order to sledge someone.

Armstrong on Smith

February 1st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

So exits Lockwood Smith as Parliament’s Speaker. And to genuine and sustained applause from MPs from all parties.

Except Winston whose speech yesterday was churlish. Winston goes from having the Speaker being the guy who beat him for a safe seat nomination in 1984, to the guy whom he unsuccessfully tried to sue for defamation. He holds a grudge.

Once the House was under way, there could often be too much referee’s whistle rather than him allowing the two main parties to engage in no-holds-barred debate. He was noticeably reluctant to grant applications for snap debates – one of the few means available to Opposition parties to hold Governments to account. He was subject to potential no confidence motions from Opposition parties.

Yet no other Speaker has done more to help the Opposition and uphold Parliament’s role of ensuring Cabinet ministers are accountable for what happens in their portfolios. His insistence that a minister address the actual question being posed by an Opposition MP rescued Parliament from fast-approaching irrelevance.

He has indeed, and the precedents he has established will carry on beyond him.

Carter is an avuncular figure who enjoys respect around Parliament for the quiet, modest and unfussy way he has gone about doing a good job in his ministerial portfolios. He will do a good job as Speaker even though he might not have wanted the job. But Smith will be a hard act to follow.


The new Speaker

January 31st, 2013 at 2:21 pm by David Farrar

It is no surprise that the Rt Hon David Carter has just been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Labour put up Trevor Mallard as a candidate. Not sure that was the best way to try and get the Maori Party or Tau to vote for you 🙂

There were no proxy votes allowed for the election.

After the speeches of congratulation, Speaker Carter will go to Government House to present his credentials and the House adjourns until the week after next.

The vote was 62-52.

Speaker Elections

January 30th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key says he is expecting an acrimonious start to the political year – and the gloves are already off over the election of Parliament’s new Speaker.

Labour has indicated it will not support National’s nomination of Primary Industries Minister David Carter as Speaker when Lockwood Smith vacates the chair this week.

The Speaker’s role is always contested and this year’s nomination has seen more jostling than usual with Carter said to be a reluctant nomination, while National backbencher Tau Henare has been angling for the job over the opposition of his colleagues.

Henare stirred the pot further this morning after being asked how Carter would go in the role.

His response was “who?”, before adding: “S … that’ll start the year off well.”

Labour leader David Shearer said the Government had not consulted Labour over the nomination.

“Until that happens the gloves in a sense are off,” he said.

Shearer said the issue was about the functioning of parliament and Labour wanted to be taken seriously over who should be the referee – Key was not respecting the convention of consulting the Opposition.

Key said Labour had already made its feelings about Carter’s nomination clear. He expected the vote to be split but that was not unusual.

“I’ve seen it before in my time in Parliament,” the prime minister said.

In 2004 National rejected the nomination of Labour candidate Margaret Wilson.

The Greens and NZ First have also said they will not be voting for Carter, but what will be more interesting is whom they nominate or vote for as an alternative.

The last contested election for Speaker was in March 2005. Three candidates declared their nominations – Margaret Wilson, Clem Simich and Ken Shirley. They got 64, 37 and 5 votes respectively.

Meanwhile Claire Trevett interviews David Carter on his plans in the role:

National’s David Carter admits it will be “a big ask” to be non-partisan as Speaker but says it was a critical part of being the Speaker and he would give it all he had. …

Asked if he could be non-partisan, he acknowledged that was a challenge for all Speakers.

“In all honesty, having been a very political and active player for 18 years in this place, the transition I have to make if I’m elected as Speaker is to be completely without bias. That is a big ask but I will do it to the best of my endeavours.”

He said it was the mark of a good Speaker to be apolitical. …

Mr Carter said today he was looking forward to the job.

“It’s a great honour – a great challenge. I don’t expect it’s going to be an easy time in the House, but I’m really looking forward to it, if I am successful on Thursday.”

Lockwood got mauled a fair bit in his early days by Mallard and Cullen. I imagine it will be much the same for Carter. What will be more interesting is how things go around three months down the track, as things settle down.

Clifton on Carter

January 28th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes:

The grandest, steepest ladder in this upheaval which to its ascender feels a lot like a snake, is that extended to outgoing Primary Industries Minister David Carter, who, to make room for the Cabinet “refresh”, has been frogmarched toward the Speaker’s chair.

It is no secret that David enjoyed being a Minister, and especially Primary Industries. And he was well liked and respected in that portfolio. So a few have joked that the traditional (from the days when an angry King might execute a Speaker) reluctance the nominee is expected to show will not be feigned 🙂

It also pays well and ends in a knighthood or damehood if one isn’t a republican. But though several Nats – notably colourful old-timers Maurice Williamson and Tau Henare – would practically auction their grannies for the job, and in Williamson’s case probably do a cracking job, it’s an ill-kept secret that Carter’s first love is primary industries.

I think Maurice has the skills, humour and knowledge to be a good Speaker. However the decision is obviously linked to Cabinet renewal also.

But that is not to say that I think David Carter won’t do well. I recall that many people were skeptical of how Lockwood would do as Speaker, and Lockie was been simply outstanding. In one sense, Lockwood has made it harder for his successors.

He’s also not one of those MPs who has a particular fondness or feeling for Parliament as the endearingly idiosyncratic institution it is. A Speaker needs to be fast on his or her feet, and demonstrably even-handed. Carter is affable, but has always been sharply partisan.

I have to rarely disagree with Jane here. I don’t think David is sharply partisan. Certainly not within 100 miles of Jonathan Hunt and Margaret Wilson.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is specially resistant to the Carter speakership, which, given Winston’s genius for parliamentry disruption, is a combustible state of affairs.

Well that is because he sued Carter for defamation and failed. I don’t see why that should be held against Carter. Peters was no fan of Lockwood also – nursing a grudge because Lockwood beat him for the Kaipara nomination in 1983 or 1984.

I’m unhappy again

November 28th, 2010 at 11:08 am by David Farrar

This seems to be my week for being very unhappy with the Government. This story actually offends me even more than the electoral finance changes. the electoral finance changes were at least made for the right reasons – to get bipartisan agreement on electoral law.

But this story in the HoS by David Fisher makes my blood boil, if it accurately reflects the situation.

Readers may recall that earlier this year the Government banned certain methods of killing animals, which included shechita – the traditional Jewish method, which is necessary to have food as “kosher”.

I’d not commented on the issue previously as I felt a bit conflicted. I don’t believe in religious beliefs trumping laws, but I do think it is desirable to try and allow communities to practice traditional beliefs – within limits.

If it was purely an issue of animal welfare. I was content to leave it to the  Government to find that balance between animal welfare and traditional practice. I’m not an expert on either.

But the article reveals:

A farming company part-owned by a Cabinet minister was able to give him a briefing about how the Government could protect its lucrative trade with Muslim countries by banning Jewish slaughtering.

This is where my blood boils. That it appears it was not animal welfare, but appeasing foreign Governments, that was part of the motivation for the law change. Now the Minister can’t control what people who lobby him say in their submissions to him, but what is disappointing is that he then referred to those concerns in documents to other Ministers.

Carter was being sued by the Auckland Hebrew Congregation for changing the law in May to make traditional Jewish slaughter of animals illegal. The case was set to begin in the High Court at Wellington tomorrow – until an embarrassing backdown by Carter who on Friday overturned the ban he asked Cabinet to support.

The practice of shechita on poultry was declared no longer illegal while the Government also agreed to negotiate the ban on sheep. New Zealand Jews will still have to import beef from Australia, where shechita is allowed.

Good to see a compromise. But my concern is not whether there is a ban or not, but about what was driving the ban.

Carter did not respond to requests for an interview.

In a statement he said: “Claims that business interests determined my decision on the Commercial Slaughter Code of Welfare are totally baseless. Animal welfare was the primary consideration in making this decision and I have said many times that animal welfare is a priority of mine.”

There is considerable wriggle room between trade interests “determining my decision” and “animal welfare was the primary consideration”. That does not rule out that trade interests were a strong secondary factor which influenced the decision, even if not determining it.

Fisking Trevor

April 6th, 2010 at 11:24 am by David Farrar

Trevor at Red Alert says:

The case in point, if the facts as alleged by Norman are accurate, is a pretty clear cut one. David Carter as a farmer in Canterbury has a case currently before Ecan to increase his water rights and therefore the value of his land. He takes part in the Cabinet debate and decision to scrap Ecan and short circuit the system for the decision relating to his farm. About as obvious a conflict as one could get and certainly well over the perceived conflict test.

Now I know Trevor doesn’t let the facts get in his way, but this one is particularly untrue. The facts:

  1. David Carter has no case or application before ECAN to increase his water rights and indeed never has. Total fiction. This is a matter of public record.
  2. The consent to take water from the Hurunui River for his Cat Hill farm is an existing historical one that was transferred into Carter’s name when he bought the property 4 years ago. It has not changed since then.
  3. The Cat Hill property will not be affected either negatively or positively if the Hurunui Water Project proceeds as the farm due to its topography and the fact that it is outside of the catchment zone cannot and would not be irrigated further.
  4. Trevor’s claim that there is a conflict of interest that needed to be declared is utter bullshit. He knows this himself as he has said “If the facts are accurate” which are weasel words for when you know they are not.

A blogging Minister

February 2nd, 2009 at 3:22 pm by David Farrar

We welcome Agriculture Minister David Carter to the blogosphere. Great to see a Minister blogging. He also has twitter updates on his blog.

Also welcome to former Green MP Nandor Tanczos.

Carter bows out of Selwyn

February 26th, 2008 at 10:28 am by David Farrar

David Carter has confirmed he will not seek the nomination for the safe National seat of Selwyn. Anger over the the selection process used last year has not dissipated so he has made the call so that the Electorate can unite behind a new candidate.

I trust what happened in Selwyn will act as a learning exercise for National, on how not to handle a selection. Contested selections are healthy – even when an incumbent MP is involved.

It is a highly desirable seat and I expect at least five candidates will seek it.  Pre-selection will whittle that down to five and the selection is on April 8.  Kudos to David Carter for putting the party first.  He will of course have a winnable list place.  Hell – on current polls almost every candidate has a winnable list place 🙂