Leader should lead the damage repair in Parliament

Key stirred up some major indignation and offence with his remarks in Parliament in Tuesday. This blew up further yesterday when Key refused to withdraw and apologise his accusations that Opposition MPs sided with rapists.

It should be remembered that it is Key who was being criticised and attacked for not doing enough on the detained New Zealand citizens in Australia – but there weas little he could do about Australian measures to deport ex-criminals.

Kelvin Davis provoked Key – very inappropriately – by confronting him in the halls of Parliament and calling him gutless.

The Opposition is to an extent responsible for what transpired in Parliament.

I think Key went too far with his comments – they were designed to hit back politically, hard, but he may not have considered that the consequences of accusing MPs who (it turns out) have been sexually assaulted of siding with rapists was going to be very emotive.

Key was justified in hitting back against over-emotive attacks but deliberately or not he made a serious mistake in the manner of his response in Parliament.

I think that Key has a responsibility to front up on this and acknowledge he has caused undue hurt with his comments. I think he should apologise in part.

But he still has a right to rephrase his counter to the provocation of Davis and other Opposition MPs on the Austrlaian detainees.

Key may believe he has major public support for his stance on the detainees. But in stirring up serious angst on rape issues he should recognise how deep this will hurt many people, and I think he should deal with it appropriately and with care.

This has become a major mess in Parliament. Key is far from the only one responsible for the whole furore but in situations like this leaders should lead, and the leader of the country should lead the repairing of the significant damage that’s been done.

Shaw hits back, continued disorder threatened

In a speech in Parliament yesterday Green co-leader James Shaw has hit back at John Key and the Government and National after Key’s remarks in Parliament about opposition MPs supporting rapists and murderers and ‘child molesterers’.

He said that Key ” lacks leadershipand his comments were “completely unparliamentary”, and until Key withdraws his comments “this House will continue to see a high level of disorder”.

He also said that “the members of the Opposition now have no confidence in the procedures of this House and no confidence in the Chair” (the Speaker)  and “you have to accept that because of the nature of those rulings that we are going to see continued disorder”.

Shaw got into tricky legal territory in turning the focus on Key’s and National’s embarrassing secret – this is currently subject to court ordered suppression so some details are edited and PLEASE TAKE CARE IF COMMENTING.

JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): The last couple of days have been a very sad time in this Parliament. Given that the last speaker, the Hon Hekia Parata, spoke about the quality of leadership provided by our Prime Minister and some of the statements that he has chosen to stand by, to not resile from, and to not apologise for, I am just going to read out a few other quotes of his that I think he may want to stand by in the future as well: “He made a very significant contribution to our caucus.” “He’s a loss in terms of the contribution I’ve seen him make as a politician.” “I’m very happy for him to continue in the position that he does.” “He is a fully functioning member of the caucus.” Those are in relation to [Edit – identification of person]. So when we stand accused of backing rapists and murderers we take great offence.

Alfred Ngaro: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Those comments—that current issue is actually before the courts and so I would like to take a point of order about it being sub judice.

Mr SPEAKER: I think on this occasion those remarks are OK within the general debate. I will listen more carefully. If there is any reference to a matter that is before the courts, that would of course be out of order. At this stage the speech is in order and it can continue.

JAMES SHAW: So when we stand accused of backing rapists and murderers and paedophiles, I say that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. The quality of leadership—so-called—that has been provided by our—

Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to draw your attention to the fact that in the member’s speech he spoke about [Edit – identification of person] and then immediately started talking about rapists and drawing the Prime Minister into the debate. I do not know whether that is appropriate. I do not think it is because he is trying to link the two together.

Tracey Martin: Speaking to the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, I do not need assistance from the member. It is a dangerous territory that we are in. At this stage I have ruled that the speech can continue. If it moves to an area that is before the courts, then I would cease the speech immediately, because I am very conscious that Parliament has the responsibility that the judiciary has. In future if any members wish to get close to this line, the Standing Orders are quite clear that you need, in writing, to take this matter up with Speaker so he can be better prepared. But I have ruled that the speech at this stage and certainly where it has now moved to can continue. I do not want further objections unless we go into an area of territory that is dangerous, and, frankly, I will be listening very carefully, so I will be the first on my feet, I suspect.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I have ruled on the matter. Is it a fresh point of order?

Chris Hipkins: It is a fresh point of order. I will try to be very careful in doing so. It is that where members suspect that the particular Standing Orders that you are referring to—and I think we all know what they are—are being transgressed, I think we get ourselves into some difficult territory that it may be useful for you to provide some further guidance on to the House. Members may interpret a comment a member is making as traversing that material that either was not intended or so, but in raising a point of order they may themselves actually introduce material that links comments that either were not intended or were not intended in that way. I wonder whether you can give us some clarity on how members can raise that without themselves getting into the difficulty with the courts.

That’s an interesting and valid point. While initial comments may go close to a legal line it’s possible that comments in response could combine to threaten to trip over that line.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Well, I do not think there is any guidance I can give on that, but I accept the point the member is making. The issue now has been highlighted by the points of order raised. That is, effectively, what the member is saying. As I said, I have not ruled anything out at this stage but I am listening carefully. I invite Mr Shaw to continue his contribution.

JAMES SHAW: When we stand accused of backing rapists and paedophiles and murderers, we take great offence—particularly those members who have been the victims of rapists and paedophiles and murderers and who have fought for years and years and years for the rights of those victims. I find it absolutely extraordinary that the Prime Minister has chosen to distract from his own troubles by choosing to go on the offence and to say—for some inexplicable reason—that the records of members on this side of the House in fighting that fights are somehow the exact opposite. That is what he is accusing them of.

Key obviously hit a raw nerve. His attack was deliberate but he may not have considered the potential rammificatins of what he said.

That is an extraordinary thing. I mean, the lines that he is using—I get that they have been dreamt up in the Australian offices—

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Crosby/Textor.

JAMES SHAW: —of political consulting firm Crosby/Textor, because they have been trotted out here and in Australia. He wants to look tough on crime, and I know it is a dog whistle to the kind of red meat brigade who consistently vote for National. But it is absolutely unacceptable in this House to accuse members of the Opposition of backing rapists and murderers. It is completely unparliamentary. It lacks leadership. It brings this House into disrepute. It is quite clear that until an apology is made for those comments and until they are withdrawn that this House will continue to see a high level of disorder. Mr Speaker, I would like you to reflect on your own rulings. I recognise that you have made a number of rulings in relation to this matter over the last several hours and looked at the events of yesterday, but you have to accept that because of the nature of those rulings that we are going to see continued disorder. Essentially, what has happened is that the members of the Opposition now have no confidence in the procedures of this House and no confidence in the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will stand and withdraw that comment.

JAMES SHAW: I withdraw and apologise, Mr Speaker—unlike our Prime Minister, who does not have the grace to do so.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just carry on with the speech.

JAMES SHAW: What we have seen here is that the Opposition has been attempting to hold the Government to account on its human rights record, attempting to hold our Australian friends to account for their transgressions of human rights.

What has happened is that in order to distract from that issue and in order to look tough on crime and boost the poll ratings amongst the sort of “Stamp them on the neck until they stop what they’re doing” crowd, the “Lock them up and throw away the key” crowd—I think it is the Prime Minister who should be locked up.

Emotions were obviously high but that’s starting to look like tit for tat abuse.

The extraordinary thing here is that they have just gone on the offensive and decided that in order to distract from all of that they are going to lay it on this side of the House—that for some reason members who have been abused, members who have stood up for the victims of abuse for their entire career are somehow backing rapists and murderers and paedophiles. It is utterly absurd. It is completely offensive. It lacks leadership. It is unparliamentary, and it brings into disrepute this House and our proceedings.

Parliament looks set to be a very unhappy place unless this is dealt with apropriately by all concerned.

Parliamentary All Black team

Audrey Young has selected an political All Black team – Here they are – All Blacks of NZ Parliament.

She has given details but here’s the team line up.

  1. Loosehead prop – Judith Collins
  2. Hooker – Trevor Mallard
  3. Tight-head prop – Gerry Brownlee
  4. Lock – Amy Adams
  5. Lock – Phil Twyford
  6. Blind-side flanker – Andrew Little
  7. Open-side flanker – John Key
  8. Number 8 – Grant Robertson
  9. Halfback – Ron Mark
  10. First five-eighth – Bill English
  11. Left wing – Jacinda Ardern
  12. Second five-eighth – Paula Bennett
  13. Centre – Annette King
  14. Right wing – Winston Peters
  15. Fullback – Steven Joyce

Who would want to try and coach them?

That’s 7 National to 8 Opposition and ten male to 5 female, which approximates Parliaments current proportions.

  • Reserves: Simon Bridges, Chris Hipkins and Te Ururoa Flavell.

The Greens may or may not appreciate being left out of the rugged team but Turei and ACT’s Seymour are on the sideline:

  • David Seymour has nominated himself as the water-boy but he has roped in Metiria Turei to be his special assistant to sniff test each bottle for alcohol.

Peter Dunne is the only one not represented, and he doesn’t really look like referee material.

TPPA to now go to Parliaments for Yes/No

The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement has been reached and can’t be re-negotiated – it would be untenable if twelve countries could go on re-litigating clauses they weren’t happy with.

Radio NZ explains with Deal goes to parliaments:

US President Barack Obama released a statement saying Americans would have months to read the Trans-Pacific Partnership before he signs it into law.

In the United States, the deal will next go to the Congress for consideration, and in New Zealand and other countries, it will go before the Parliament.

The 12 countries’ legislatures will have no ability to re-negotiate the deal’s terms, however, and will be limited to yes-or-no votes on signing it into law.

NZ Herald: After the deal: 90 days for scrutiny:

Once the Trans Pacific Partnership talks conclude, New Zealand and the 11 other countries must tick several boxes before the agreement can be brought into force.

Under a rule set by the United States, any agreement cannot be signed until 90 days after negotiations end, to allow time for full consideration of its pros and cons.

The same rule also says the agreement’s full text must be made available to the public after 30 days.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will provide a report to the Cabinet on the costs and benefits.

The Cabinet will then decide whether to approve the agreement.

Once the Cabinet approves the deal, the full text will be tabled in Parliament.

It will then be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee, which will hear submissions from the public.

New Zealand will likely have to change its laws to bring them into line with the agreement. This would probably be done through a single piece of legislation, and was likely to include changes to copyright, tariff and patent laws.

The bill would provide a chance for a parliamentary debate on the agreement, but only on the parts of the law which need to be changed.

This process could not alter the text of the agreement.

After the bill passes and any other policies or regulations have been brought into line with the agreement, the Government will ratify the deal.

Other countries will follow similar processes.

I don’t know what happens if any of the countries pulls the plug on the agreement.

Use of social media in Parliament

Last year the use of social media in Parliament was referred to the Privileges Committee.

In May 2014, the Speaker referred to us as a general matter of privilege the implications for Parliament of people using social media to report on parliamentary proceedings and to reflect on members of Parliament (including the Speaker).

The committee has now reported back – Question of privilege regarding use of social media to report on parliamentary proceedings

In general social media is seen as a useful means of engagement.

We consider the growth in the use of social media to communicate about Parliament in recent years to be a positive development. Parliament has an active Twitter account and is exploring increased use of Facebook by select committees. A healthy democracy relies on public participation, and all communication channels need to be fully used to promote the work that occurs in the House of Representatives.

For many members of Parliament, social media has become an essential tool for engaging with people and constituencies. At the time of writing, 105 out of the 121 members of the 51st Parliament had Twitter accounts. Members’ use of social media can provide a useful and interesting parallel commentary on what takes place in the House or in committees.

Given the value of social media for popular engagement and its enduring presence in our lives, we have no intention of questioning whether members and others should use it to report on parliamentary proceedings. Rather, our focus has been on appropriate behaviour when using social media, including assessing the relevant rules currently in place.

It is good that a number of MPs are happy to engage with the public via social media.

Guidelines for the use of social media from Parliament have bee proposed:



Robb on Little: “You always know when someone is going places”.

Retiring Parliamentary staffer Shona Robb says that she thought from day one that Andrew Little would be “going places” and looks forward to seeing him in “the big role” in 2017.

Stuff reports – MPs’ long serving staffer retires after four decades:

After 39 years, six prime ministers and hundreds of MPs, Shona Robb has called time on her career. And as Parliament’s longest serving staffer clocked off for the last time yesterday, her silver wrist-watch stopped.

She started work in the Opposition typing pool in September 1976 – before Parliamentary Service was established and construction of the Beehive was finished. MPs Todd Barclay, David Seymour, Jacinda Ardern, Nikki Kaye, Julie Anne Genter and Simon Bridges were yet to be born.

Working for MPs for 39 years is a huge achievement.

Robb makes some interesting comments about Andrew Little – see the video from 1:12

But the last few years working with Andrew has been pretty special indeed, and you always know when someone is going places, and I think I knew from day one.

So I’m really backing this man and I hope that, you know, in 2017 he’s going to take the big role. So we’ll be there to see you do that.

There’s also some interesting visuals involving Grant Robertson while Rob was saying that.


Well done Shona for a long career in Parliament. We’ll see in a couple of years if Little gets the big role as she anticipates.

Health select committee agrees to euthanasia inquiry

In response to a petition presented to Parliament by the Voluntary Euthanasia  the Health Select Committee has agreed to investigate matters raised by the petition.

NZ Herald reports: Parliament to hold euthanasia inquiry following Lecretia Seales’ death

An inquiry into voluntary euthanasia is to be carried out by Parliament – a process supporters hope will be an important step towards a law change.

Today’s announcement comes after a petition from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society was presented to Parliament by supporters including Matt Vickers, the husband of the late Lecretia Seales.

The petition, signed by former Labour MP Maryan Street and 8,974 others, asked that Parliament’s health and select committee “investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable”.

It will set-up an inquiry to “fully investigate the matters raised by the petition”, health committee chair Simon O’Connor said.

The terms of reference will be drafted over the next few weeks, which will form the outline of that investigation.

“This is an important subject and the committee needs to think carefully about the best way to examine it,” Mr O’Connor said.

“I would like to see a thorough investigation that covers as many aspects of this topic as possible in a responsible and robust manner.”

It’s impossible to know where this may lead, if anywhere, but i think it’s time Parliament properly and comprehensively looked at the pros and cons of voluntary euthanasia, the right to choose how we die etc.

Will the Greenpeace Parliament climbing stunt make a difference?

Yesterday four people from Greenpeace climbing Parliament buildings and displaying a banner got a lot of media attention. The four climbed back down late yesterday afternoon and were arrested by waiting police – Parliamentary officials said the breach of security was serious.

The Greenpeace climbers will appear in court in due course. That will get them a bit more attention, but a jail sentence is a possibility.

But will it change anything? I doubt it. The converted applauded, those who can change things will have largely ignored the message.


The slogan is a bit funny I guess, but it’s also a bit lame.

Is it likely to change John Key’s environmental approach or policies? Yeah, nah.

UPDATE: one take on it from Facebook:

Speaking with Paul Henry Annette King has just said that if they were protesting about climate change the point was lost amongst all the talk of security breaching and she hopes it doesn’t result in too much of an increase in security that hampers accessibility to parliament.

Comparing Key to Peters in Parliament

Following on from Was Peters unfairly ejected from the Chamber? – does John Key get away with too much in the Chamber? Is his behaviour unbecoming of a Prime Minister?

Duperez commented:

“…cantankerous, disrespectful and disruptive behaviour…” are lovely descriptions and could be particular to Winston Peters in general or specifically the behaviour which saw his latest ousting.

I don’t quite know if that group of decriptors would apply to the consistent behaviour of say, John Key. ” Disrespectful and disruptive”, yes but not cantankerous. To the former two I’d add “smart arse” and “sneering.” Maybe “wily” also because he knows he can get away with whatever he likes and you always play to the ref.

I think this is fair comment. I agree that Key escapes the cantankerous label, but I think ”disrespectful and disruptive” could easily describe how he often acts in Parliament. And “smart arse” and “sneering” also seems appropriate descriptors.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I think Key’s behaviour often goes too far and can be a piss poor look at times.

But he’s also wily and knows what he can usually get away with.

Peters has been around long enough to also know how to be wily, but there’s a significant difference with what he does.

Key always directs his barbs and excesses at opposition MPs. While sometimes excessive it is seen as part of the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debate. He doesn’t argue with the Speaker, as Duperez says, he plays to the ref but he doesn’t play the ref.

In contrast Peters seems more intent on needling and questioning and defying and antagonising the Speaker. Tuesday’s clash on it’s own may not have seemed particularly bad but in the context of a long running battle with Carter then I don’t think the Speaker’s reaction was over the top.

Peters is one of the most experienced combatants in the Chamber. He should know how to play to the ref. He seems to frequently choose to fight with the ref. His questions often seem to begin targeting Government MPs or the PM but divert into spats with the Speaker.

Both Key and Peters display behaviour unbecoming of senior representatives of the people. They set a poor example and lower the tone of Parliamentary debate.

The difference is that Key fights his opposition while Peters seems obsessed with fighting the Speaker and the System. It’s hard to see how he can every win those battles, and his war his futile.

I don’t think either Key or Peters behave appropriately in Parliament, I don’t like the excesses of either. But Key keeps winning while Peters seems determined to continue battles he will mostly lose.

Northland MP or grumpy old president?

“The Chairman is on his feet, will the member keep his mouth shut”.


Winston Peters loved all the attention and the success the Northland by-election gave him.

The latest Herald-Digipoll adds to that, with Peters doubling his ‘preferred Prime Minister’ support from 5.9% to 12%.

But has it all gone to his head?

Something not many people will see – the media are unlikely to show it – is some of his behaviour in Parliament, where he acts like a cantankerous old git who thinks he deserves to rule, and who despises being told what to do.

See the video…

…starting from 1:56 leading to where Peters objects (at about 2:16) to a determination by the Business Committee of speaking rights for Appropriation Bill. Peters starts speaking from 3:40.

He displays disrespect and petulance. When told he could seek leave to the House to deal with his gripe it was objected to, so his acrimonious approach failed to achieve anything.

Draft transcript:

Annual Review Debate

In Committee

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): This debate is the Committee stage of the Appropriation (2013/13 Confirmation and Validation) Bill. The time allocated for this debate is 9 hours and comprises two distinct elements in accordance with determinations of the Business Committee. The first is the debate on the annual financial statements of the Government, as reported by the Finance and Expenditure Committee. The time allocated by the Business Committee for this debate is 2 hours.

The second is the debate on the annual reviews of departments, Officers of Parliament, Crown entities, public organisations, and State enterprises, as reported on by select committees. The time allocated by the Business Committee for this debate is 7 hours.

We turn first to the 2-hour debate on the Government’s 2013-14 financial statements and the report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee. The Business Committee has determined that the first call will go to the chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee and that the total number of calls will be as follows: the New Zealand National Party, 12 5-minute calls; the New Zealand Labour Party, seven 5-minute calls; the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, three 5-minute calls; the New Zealand First Party, two 5-minute calls; and the—

[Interruption] The Chairman is on his feet. Will the member keep his mouth shut? The Māori Party—[Interruption] Order! [Interruption] No, I am on my feet. The member will be seated. [Interruption] I am on my feet. The point is, for the members who are present, that the Business Committee has agreed to a motion—particularly from the Opposition parties—so that this debate will have more meaning than they have deemed it to have in the past. It is a new process, and I am endeavouring to lay that out to the Committee of the whole House as we are now. I would appreciate the ability to continue so that members are fully aware and not ignorant due to their adherence to the ways that have happened in the past.

The Māori Party, ACT New Zealand, and United Future New Zealand may negotiate with the New Zealand National Party for calls during the debate.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. You may say that this committee outside this House decided this and it decided that, but the fact of the matter is that this House is the master of its own destiny and we will not be ruled out because of some arrangement made outside with House with which we do not agree.

If you could tell me how 14 members gets 15 minutes and 12 members gets 10 minutes and that is fair, then I would like you to explain it to me mathematically, but it is not. [Interruption] I beg your pardon? Have you got a problem with actually working out the mathematics on that? If 14 members—

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): The member should make his point of order or complete it.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: My point of order is simply that that ratio cannot be fair, that 14 members—sit down. Fourteen members getting 15 minutes would surely mean that 12 members are entitled to more than 10 minutes. It is just actually mathematic. So there, for a start, I do not think it is reasonable—

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): I do not need any further help from the member on this matter. Sit down. [Interruption] Take your seat. The point is that the protocols for this debate have been determined by the Business Committee. If the member wishes to seek leave to change that, he can.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I seek leave for New Zealand First to have, for a start, a fairer ratio of speaking time than that laid out by you in your little preamble.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): Leave is sought for that purpose, is there any objection?

There were objections from the Government side

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows):The motion is lost.

There was a ruckus at the beginning of the next speech.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): Order! Please take your seat. As I indicated earlier, the reason the new process was put before the Business Committee was to try to raise the level of debate. Let us see if members of the Committee can do that.

Then at 1:00 in the speech NZ First MP Ron Mark made a point of order:

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. Sorry to the member for interrupting his speech, but you did make a statement there that has got me totally confused. When has there ever been a question about the level of debate in this Committee, and who does it involve?

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): That is not a point of order.

Ron Mark: Well, you have made a statement and it should be clarified.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): Do not challenge the ruling I have already given.

An abrasive petulant approach to Parliament is unlikely to achieve anything positive for the Northland electorate, nor for the NZ First Party.


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