NZ Herald on Mathers funding

The editorial:

Parliament and the Greens ought to have made necessary arrangements long before she came to deliver her maiden speech this week. Neither side can escape blame for the unseemly public argument it became.

Parliamentary Service had provided her with technical equipment to receive an electronic transcript of what was said in the House, but had not provided a person to write the transcript.

Speaker Lockwood Smith thought the Greens would assign someone from their support staff, the Greens thought Parliament would provide. When the Greens discovered otherwise this week they made the most of it.

It should have been sorted out earlier, and I agree neither side escapes blame.

They succeeded in embarrassing Dr Smith, who sounded heartless until he explained that additional staffing for a member was beyond his statutory power to provide. But the Greens should be embarrassed too. Having put a deaf person high on their list, they ought to have foreseen all her needs in Parliament and taken more responsibility for her assistance.

It was not unreasonable to think the party would provide her assistant. Ideally, the person would not only transcribe speeches but be alert to comments, interjections and nuances of particular interest to the MP and her party. A public servant might not be ideal. Doubtless the party does want its member to be assisted by one of their own but it wants additional funding for it.

The Greens get 56,000 hours of funding, and only 1,000 hours are needed for transcription. What would be interesting is to find out whether the Greens are using all their hours currently and really can’t manage to cover the transcriber themselves, or whether they could – but just wanted to make the Speaker look bad?

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