In an interview with Audrey Young David Carter said that about John Key but he could as easily applied it to other MPs.
Carter in which he explains his part in recent events in Parliament in NZ Herald.
On John Key:
In relation to Wednesday’s incident he said: “I think in hindsight it was out of order (Mr Key’s comment) but a significant reason as to why I didn’t ask for that reply to be withdrawn is that it was directed at Grant Robertson and Grant Robertson sat and appeared to take no offence.
“If he had raised it and taken offence, I’m sure the outcome would have been the Prime Minister would have been asked to withdraw that part and maybe even withdraw and apologise.”
Asked about whether the Prime Minister had stirred things up, Mr Carter said: “I think the Prime Minister was incredibly unhelpful to the order of the House.”
Carter had also said similar at the time in Parliament. Key has a responsibility to respedct the Speaker and the intent of Question Time, he is abusing Carter’s greater leniency on politcal jousting.
On Trevor Mallard:
Mr Mallard had been riled by Mr Key twice referring to someone being “brighter” than Mr Robertson without reprimand. But when Mr Mallard told Mr Carter to sit down while he was speaking he was thrown out and when Mr Hipkins tried several times to question Mr Carter, he was asked to leave too.
“I have tried to be extremely patient and not asked people to leave the chamber,” said Mr Carter, calling Mallard’s remarks “indefensible”.
In Speaker’s ruling sets stage for hostilities of biblical proportions Jane Clifton glossed over Mallard’s behaviour, and left wing bloggers have defended Labour and heaped criticism on Carter.
Chris Trotter in Making Bold With The Speaker’s Chair thinks Carter is “unfairly favouring the other side” and also tries to justify Mallard’s behaviour:
The level of exasperation needed for someone as experienced as Mallard to commit such a flagrant breach of parliamentary order is considerable. Dissatisfaction with Speaker Carter’s behaviour in the Chair has clearly reached unprecedented levels.
Trevor Mallard’s cold fury of yesterday afternoon, and the egregious breach of parliamentary etiquette that followed, was born of Speaker Carter’s refusal to uphold the standards of Executive accountability and behaviour insisted upon by Speaker Smith.
Clifton and Trotter should read Young’s interview article – but it may not change their slanted stance, they have (different) interests in this.
On Russel Norman and David Shearer:
Greens co-leader Russel Norman often criticises Mr Carter in the House for not being like former Speaker Lockwood Smith. Last week he went to see Mr Carter about Question Time.
And this week Labour leader David Shearer went to Mr Carter about the same thing.
Opposition parties are frustrated that Mr Carter is not applying the same method as Dr Smith.
Expecting a new speaker to operate exactly the sdame as the last one is very naive and unrealistic.
On the Lockwood methods:
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 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.”
Lockwood Smith was a big improvement as Speaker – but that reputation was earned over time, not immediately on taking up the position. And his methods were not ideal either.
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.
Carter had struggled when he tried the Lockwood method, but he was not given a chance to settle in by opposition parties, who vigorously Carter trying to “do a Lockwood”. I blogged on this at the time – Carter struggling as Speaker.
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.
I also blogged on Carter’s change of approach: Much better Mr Speaker – rulings without interpretations.
“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.”
He accepted that the result had been a lot more political hurly burly had been injected back into Question Time. “It’s a political debating chamber. I don’t want Question Time to be totally sterile.”
Mr Carter has also been criticised for not explaining his rulings well enough – in contrast to Dr Smith who would discuss his rulings at length.
“It’s just my nature. I tend to be a person who speaks relatively crisply, sharply, to the point and doesn’t elaborate. That’s my nature.
So Ministers and opposition parties and MPs need to adapt to the change in Speaker.
“The House will be more difficult between now and the next election that, according to the polls, will be close and you’ve got an Opposition that has been in opposition now for two terms, and I know from my experience in Opposition it’s soul-destroying. It’s a dreadful time in anyone’s political career so I have no doubt that the tensions and the challenges of being the Speaker will only increase as we approach the next election.”
Carter seems to be doing his best to adapt and apply what he things is a fair and reasonable approach.
John Key and his Government ministers have a responsibility to respect the chair and to not abuse the greater scope Carter is giving them to joust with their opponents.
Trevor Mallard should stop trying to discredit Carter, he should stop trying to prove he would have made a better speaker, and he should contribute to enabling a better forum for all of the opposition rather than trying to cling to his ego (and ego that is struggling to find relevance in the current Parliament.
If David Shearer has any authority over Mallard and the Labour caucus he should decide whether trying to turn Question Time into a self defeating farce is ther best way for Labour to promote itself.
Russel Norman also needs to understand that the Speaker has changed and the rulings have changed. Perhsaps the Carter style doesn’t suit the Green approach as much but the Greens have to adapt or they may remain frustrated.
Ultimately the tone and value of Question Time is up to all of those participating. Parliament as a public political forum has a very poor reputation with the votong public. The current Speaker is not to blame for that, he’s not the one throwing and spitting sand in the pit.
Parties and MPs are primarly the ones who have to make the debating chamber a worthwhile part of our political process. MPs are supposed to be the people’s representatives. Grandstanding their own egos is a very poor representation of themselves.
They can choose to be more helpful to the House, and the country, or continue their incredibly bad behaviour that can’t be described as childish, that would be unfair to children.