Seymour on Peters

’s speech against appointing Winston Peters to the Intelligence and Security Committee:

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): I have never heard a more solemn or subdued debate in this House, and I could barely hear the words of Gerry Brownlee, David Parker, Kennedy Graham, or Ron Mark through the chewing on dead rat that was stopping those words from getting out. Well, I rise on behalf of the ACT Party in opposition to this motion. I cannot think of a worse person in this House that could be nominated to such an important committee as the Intelligence and Security Committee.

We know that security is important and perhaps now more important than at any other time, with the various geopolitical tensions that we face, whether it be off the coast of North Korea, in Syria, or wherever else. We know that terrorism is changing its shape and is becoming harder and harder to detect and prevent. We know—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Order! I will ask the member to sit down for a second. This is clearly controversial and painful for some members, but they must control their interjections to those that are appropriate. I am not looking at Mr Mark; I am looking at Mr Ball at the moment. You must not bring me into this debate.

DAVID SEYMOUR: Thank you for your intervention, but I am not bothered by the squealing from New Zealand First—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Order! The member has now been here long enough to know that he does not comment on my rulings, and he will not if he wants to continue.

DAVID SEYMOUR: I apologise, Mr Assistant Speaker. What do we need in a member of a security and intelligence committee? Well, I would say that such a member should be diligent, should be collegial, should be honest, and, ironically, should be prepared to put New Zealand first. And what do we see in the characteristics of Winston Peters? This is a guy who has been called diligent. Well, I prefer the words of somebody else whom we are about to debate, Simon Upton, who said of his time in Cabinet with Winston Peters: “There was something genuinely sad about watching him arrive at Cabinet meetings with his papers unread, still tightly secured by their green Cabinet Office ribbon.” That is the person going on the most important committee in New Zealand, according to this motion. I have watched the same thing in the Finance and Expenditure Committee in the last 2 years, when he shows up with his papers unread, asking questions that would be embarrassing if only anyone could understand what he was trying to say, far off topic, to the bemusement of the officials before the Finance and Expenditure Committee.

I said that a member of this committee should be collegial. The least collegial person in this House is someone who has been sacked from three different Cabinets by three different Prime Ministers. That is the opposite of collegiality. This committee requires someone who is honest, not somebody who has been censured by this House—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Order! The member has just reflected on the honesty of another member. He will withdraw and apologise.

DAVID SEYMOUR: I withdraw and apologise, but putting the interests—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Mr Seymour, you cannot withdraw and apologise and say “but”, all right? Just make it absolutely unequivocal and move on to another topic.

DAVID SEYMOUR: I withdraw and apologise. Now, the next thing that you might want in a member of this committee is the ability to put New Zealand first. Well, the fact of the matter is that Winston Peters is like one of those old lags in prison—somebody who cannot retire, who cannot go nowhere else, because he has got nowhere else to go. The Rt Hon John Key—he could retire, because he has got other options. He has got other things to do. In fact, most members of this House have that, but Winston Peters is somebody who has absolutely nothing else to offer the world and is scared to leave this House.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Order! The member’s speech is concluded.

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As an elected member, I have a right to speak in this House and time on the clock. Could you please explain—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] The member will resume his seat. I will give the member an explanation. His speech has been terminated for repeated breaches of Standing Orders and Speakers’ rulings. He had been warned twice, and he breached on a third occasion. I think the member knows about the three-strikes law. He is probably lucky still to be here.

What a pity David was cut off before he finished. Still a fine speech. An interesting point is that generally you can’t call another member dishonest, but what is the situation when the Privileges Committee and the House have found the member lied to the House previously?

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