Speaker condemns Simon Bridges’ ‘level of arrogance’

In Question Time in Parliament today the Speaker gave Minister of Transport Simon Bridges leeway after being advised his response to an initial question by Green MP Julie Anne Genter would be lengthy.

12. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport : What percentage of the National Land Transport Programme announced yesterday will be spent on new rail infrastructure?

Mr SPEAKER : Before I call the Hon Simon Bridges, I have been advised that this answer may be longer than normal.

Part the pay through the reply the Speaker gave Bridges further opportunity to detail his response despite protestations of Genter.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I would be grateful is the member would show some courtesy to the Minister and to the House. I announced at the start of the question that it would be a longer answer than normal. As I am listening to the answer, it maybe is a reason why a percentage will not be given. If the member would only listen to the answer before raising a point of order, I think we would all be far more grateful. Would the honourable Minister wish to continue with his answer.

The lengthy answer resumed.

Hon SIMON BRIDGES : In regards to the 2015-18 National Land Transport Plan, we are investing over $2 billion in public transport regarding rail, some $380 million going on passenger rail subsidies, $40 million on park-and-ride infrastructure, and $172.6 million towards other rail infrastructure—about 1.5 percent. Of course, in Budget 2015 there is a further $210 million for KiwiRail and another $190 million signalled for thereafter. The member should stop being tricky, should stop cherry-picking the statistics—

Bridges was stopped by the Speaker there. The questions and answers continued. Afterwards, following Labour MP Damien O’Connor being ordered to leave the House, Russel Norman raised a point of order.

Russel Norman : This is to do with the answer given by the Minister to question twelve. I would ask you to look at the record of the Hansard, because the question on notice written down was a very simple straight question and in the answer the Minister attacked the Member asking the question, accusing her of being tricky and various other things.

I think that is completely unreasonable, and i would think, I would ask you to intervene when a Minister does those kinds of personal attacks on a very straight question, and actually hold the Minister to account.

Mr SPEAKER :That is a very fair point of order that’s been raised, the Minister’s office advised my office just prior to Question Time it would be a longer answer than normal. I think the Minister genuinely attempted to answer the question.

His last comment was, ah, to accuse the Member of being tricky, that was a very unnecessary and in fact inflammatory remark. As soon as it occurred I brought that answer to a conclusion.

But answers like that from any Minister show a level of arrogance that does not show them in good light in this House.

In some ways this seems like a minor infraction and a minor point but the snarky dig from Bridges was totally uncalled for after he had been given leeway to give a lengthy answer.

Being condemned as arrogant by the Speaker (who happens to be from the same party) is a justified reprimand for Bridges.

Ministers should be above this sort of petty arrogance.

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1 Comment

  1. Bridges just typifies the overall arrogance & smugness that ‘comes from the top’ (‘teflon John’ PM). 😦
    BUT how many Nat. MPs have been ejected from the chamber recently, for bring the house into disorder ?


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