In the new Parliament’s question time today Winston Peters began his quest to establish himself as the leader of the Opposition with a weak line of questioning that John Key easily rebuffed.
[Sitting date: 22 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:9. Text is subject to correction.]
6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Does he stand by his statement of 13 October: “I would certainly describe my style as open and transparent.”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : If that is true, why did his Government withhold the two child poverty reports for 17 months in an abuse of the Official Information Act?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member really should direct that to the responsible Minister; it was not in my office. But I think I am correct in saying—I could stand corrected—that it was because it was a work in progress and there were particular reasons as it was going through that process.
So his first hit was aimed at the wrong Minister. Peters should have known that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Having regard to the Hon Jim McLay’s comment in this House when the Official Information Bill was being passed, and he said: “The underlying philosophy of the bill is that official information should be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it.”, and that being the case, why has he admitted on 15 October to using delaying tactics for political purposes?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have not.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I seek leave to table the evidence that he did admit that on 15 October.
Mr SPEAKER : What is the source of this evidence?
Rt Hon Winston Peters : It is a Radio New Zealand transcript.
Peters must have (or should have) know that would be inadmissible as evidence to be tabled.
Mr SPEAKER : No. That is also available to all members. Does the member—
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Well, he’s just denied it, for goodness sake!
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I heard that. Does the member have a further supplementary question?
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why are US congressmen kept well informed about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations whilst New Zealand parliamentarians are kept totally in the dark on this matter?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, every system is different, so I cannot speak for what happens in the United States. But what I can say is that in New Zealand it has been a longstanding tradition for free-trade agreements to be negotiated behind closed doors, essentially, until the point an agreement is reached, because we do not believe it is in the best interests to be discussing those in the public domain because it weakens our bargaining position.
Peters will know that. Or should know that. He was Foreign Minister under the Helen Clark led government from 2005 to November 2008.
The New Zealand-China FTA was signed on 7 April 2008 in Beijing, after negotiations that spanned fifteen rounds over three years. It entered into force on 1 October 2008 (Wikipedia)
In an earlier question Peters tried to insert his influence once but it was dominated by Russel Norman questioning John Key about his contact with Cameron Slater with a strong and well considered point of order from Labour’s Chris Hipkins.
This wasn’t an eminent start to the new term from Peters. It was a fizzer.