Breach of privilege complaint against Key

Grant Robertson has made a formal breach of privilege complaint against John Key for allegedly misleading the house a week after the budget in May.

It appears that both Robertson and Key may have made mistakes.

Breach of Privilege complaint to be laid against PM

The Labour Party will today lodge a breach of privilege complaint against the Prime Minister for misleading Parliament over advice he received about scrapping the KiwiSaver kickstart.

Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says John Key misled the House on May 26 during the following  exchange:

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Mr Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.


Questions to Ministers

Prime Minister—Statements

1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Metiria Turei : Does he stand by his reported statement that no one had been disadvantaged by the move to scrap the $1,000 KiwiSaver kick-start payment?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member might want to table the source for that because I cannot recall it.

Metiria Turei : Has the Prime Minister seen that New Zealand ranks 22nd out of 24 countries in the OECD for savings, and will his removal of the $1,000 KiwiSaver kick-start contribution make this poor savings record better or worse?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, savings records have improved under this Government. Secondly, there are multiple ways of measuring those things. And, thirdly, the removal of the $1,000 kick-start contribution will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver.

Metiria Turei : What evidence does the Prime Minister have that the sign-up rates for KiwiSaver will not be affected?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : That is the formal advice from the Inland Revenue Department, and it is supported by the view that the people who are joining KiwiSaver are essentially doing so because it is now well organised within the workplace. Some of the big scheme providers are extremely well organised. We have got about 15,000 to 20,000 people joining in a month. I would be very, very surprised if it changes at all as a result of this.

“Budget documents released yesterday show the Inland Revenue told John Key the exact opposite of what he told Parliament.“Inland Revenue actually said the impact of scrapping the kickstart on KiwiSaver providers would be a ‘lower numbers of KiwiSaver members (particularly among the self-employed and children)’.

“Instead of reflecting this advice, the Prime Minister simply made a blanket statement claiming the IRD backed his position.

“The Prime Minister has a fundamental requirement to tell the truth to Parliament. Blatantly misrepresenting advice he receives brings the integrity of Parliament into question.

“John Key must lead by example by having the highest standards of integrity. If he can’t be trusted to be truthful in Parliament, how can the public have confidence in any of his statements or those of his ministers?”

The Regulatory Impact Statement was “prepared by the Treasury in close consultation with Inland Revenue”.


The section on impacts:


(44. a.) is what Robertson is referring to. He claims: “Inland Revenue actually said the impact of scrapping the kickstart on KiwiSaver providers would be a ‘lower numbers of KiwiSaver members (particularly among the self-employed and children)’.

I can’t see anything that shows what “Inland Revenue actually said”, just that the statement was prepared “in close consultation” with Inland Revenue.

The Regulatory Impact Statement was signed by James Beard (Manager, Financial markets) from The Treasury.

It looks to me that Key could legitimately respond that this doesn’t prove Robertson’s claim against him.

Key claimed “That is the formal advice from the Inland Revenue Department” – Robertson doesn’t appear to have proved that wrong.

I would be surprised if Inland Revenue formally advised Key that “the sign-up rates for KiwiSaver will not be affected”.

I think both Robertson (now) and Key (in Parliament) have made loose claims.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Key ‘clarify’ by saying that he meant that the sign up rate of the ‘target population’ wouldn’t be affected – that’s employees who are automatically enrolled and who have to de-enrol if they don’t want to be in KiwiSaver.

The self employed and children seen as ‘leakage’ enrolments outside the ‘target population’.

Overall Treasury

They recommended removing the Kickstart to achieve “significant fiscal savings” from a “costly and poorly targeted savings scheme”…


…but also said it would “marginally (at best)” improve the target effectiveness:


See the related post More confusion between Treasury and Inland Revenue.

Leave a comment


  1. Rodney Hide

     /  11th July 2015

    To the best of my knowledge in the history of the Westminster system there has never been a successful privilege claim of misleading the House in any commonwealth jurisdiction.

    The test is not whether an answer is untrue but whether is it knowingly untrue.

    So a Minister can be mistaken or confused and say next to anything. And they do.

    That’s as I understand it. It’s the complaint itself that is the counter hit not its success as a breach of privilege.

    Rodney Hide

    • Thanks Rodney.

      Given it’s loose claims it does appear a bit like a publicity stunt from Robertson and Labour.

  2. Missy

     /  11th July 2015

    Two things on this:

    1. on the complaint, it is showing yet again skewed priorities for Labour as they look to be trying anything in desperation to ‘get Key’, they have jumped on any little thing they can to try and turn it into a scandal, and as a result the public are most likely seeing them as being like petty children trying to score points, rather than actually coming up with viable alternatives for running the country. As long as they continue in this way they will most likely never win enough public support to be a viable and stable Government.

    2. On Kiwisaver, I would have thought that by now most people who were going to be signed up would be, thus causing a fall in the numbers of new enrolments regardless of the kickstart, so, is it possible something along this lines was said to the PM – or more likely the Minister for IRD or Finance Minister – and the PM just para-phrased it? Just a theory, but about as valid as Labour saying the PM deliberately lied.

  3. So Labour have spent seven years trying to attack John Key. And it has never worked. Yet Labour continue to believe that these attacks will somehow work.
    Is General Melchett the Labour Party strategist?

  4. kittycatkin

     /  11th July 2015

    The daft thing that these idiots either haven’t worked out or think that nobody else can work out is that the $1000 is being paid by taxpayers so that those receiving it were paying themselves ! The many $1000s had to come from somewhere. Guess where ? That’s right, from somewhere else that’s being funded by taxpayers. Labour can’t be naive enough to think that the Government has any money. It hasn’t. It’s our money that they take in taxes and spend on our behalf.

  1. More confusion between Treasury and Inland Revenue | Your NZ
  2. Hide: “Never been a successful privilege claim of misleading the House” | Your NZ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s