Games in Question Time

Question Time has taken an even bigger beating than usual in Parliament this week. The scene was set prior to the House sitting when Kelvin Davis got in John Key’s face in a hallway and caled him gutless.

Two comments here look at some of the issues.


Okay this is what it is about:
“This week Parliament has become a farce. OK for PM to tell lies and hurl personal abuse, but MPs who complain about it will be disciplined.
Question Time an essential check on govt power. But it should also involve answers!
Question Time is a farce. Specific questions go unanswered while ministerial insults and abuse go unrestrained.”

For those who haven’t been watching, which parts are wrong?

Goldie in response:

Which parts are wrong?
1. “OK for PM to tell lies and hurl personal abuse, but MPs who complain about it will be disciplined.” The PM hurled abuse at the opposition MPs in retaliation for personal abuse at him. MPs were thrown out of the chamber because they defied the Speaker’s ruling.

2. “Question Time an essential check on govt power. But it should also involve answers!”
I agree. But the current Opposition tactic is ask the question “Do you stand by your statements”, and then follow up with a supplementary speech (which invites only a speech in return). If the opposition wants answers, then they need to start asking proper questions. The recently retired Clerk of the House, Mary Harris (a non-partisan person expert in parliamentary procedure), said this – she said that opposition MPs cannot complain about the quality of answers if they ask questions that are actually speeches about an issue.

3. “Question Time is a farce. Specific questions go unanswered while ministerial insults and abuse go unrestrained.”
Like I have written – questions need to be specific and well written. Ministerial insults will get passed if the opposition make an insulting speech first. The “rules of the game” are that an insulting question gets an insult in return. So Little accused the PM of being weak and lacking courage, so the PM responded that Labour were supporting rapists. Do you understand?

Key and National get away with playing a diversionary circus game because the Opposition not only allow it through their approach to questions and interjections, they give the Prime Minister and National MPs plenty of ammunition to hit back with.

Labour is getting frustrated at losing the game so they resort to blaming the referee – the Speaker.

If Labour, Greens and NZ First put more effort into holding the Government to account perhaps they would be more successful at holding the Government to account.

Instead their combative and disruptive approach keeps backfiring. This has been happening for seven years. When will they figure out that it isn’t working?

Everyone makes mistakes but it’s politically very stupid to keep repeating the same mistakes for so long.

Leave a comment


  1. Exactly. Labour strike me as lazy and unsuited to the job. Hipkins, King and sometimes Parker are not bad with targeted questions… Though King seems to have met her match in Coleman with their back and forth being quite entertaining.

    Davies was on a winner for a while with Serco questioning but that seems more because Lota-Iiga is or was out of his depth and inadequately prepared on the issues.

    The Greens are just whining little show ponies – Meterias’ little sighs, J-A Genters’ little exasperations when batted away, Kennedy Grahams’ school master approach…. Hague seems to have disappeared

    When Labour and the Greens miss McCullys head over the farm in the desert payments then you know the opposition are rubbish….

  2. Budgieboy

     /  13th November 2015

    Good points Dave. The left wing world view is so narrow that they literally cannot understand that there could be another way of viewing things. That’s why you get the little sighs and exasperation’s.

    But that fact goes a little deeper. Very rarely to do you come across a leftie that can hold up in a genuine debate about issues. They have their world view and if you’re not 100 % on board with it you’re >insert insult here< (racist, selfish, heartless etc etc) and they get angry.

    That's why they are failing in Parliament, they turn up with whatever righteous indignation they've manifested for that day and demand the world be put right according to their view. When someone stands opposite and points out the facts of life and this funny little thing called 'reality' they can't handle it and their heads explode. Sad in a way but kinda amusing as well.

    I feel for Carter, I think he is a 'good' Speaker and overall is quite reasonable. As someone here pointed out recently ANYONE following Lockwood Smith was going to look rough by comparison.

    And just finally, the utter audacity of anyone in Labour that sat in Parliament under the abomination that was Margaret Wilson and wants to complain about competence and bias… well…well…words fail me!

  3. traveller

     /  13th November 2015

    Question Time ! There is an excellent piece in spinoff to read. There’s many positions from all sides of the political coin but I do think there more emphasis on the questioner wiuld produce more effective accountability., ratger than the political posturing we see these days. What’s missing is effective investigation of the government and to that end better questions are needed. In my opinion under MMP and the more party, less electorate focussed style e have, opposition have lost sight of their job. That is to hold the government accountable.

    David Seymour suggests this idea:

    “For every two supplementary questions asked by a questioner, the Minister should be given one supplementary back to the questioner. It would raise the standard of questions because questioners would (then) only ask questions they thought they could answer themselves. Ministers with their own formalised opportunity to counter attack might be more willing to answer questions rather than use their answers as an opportunity to attack the questioner.”

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  13th November 2015

      Seymour is smart. A pity there are so many idiots on the opposition benches.

  4. My comment was a direct quote from Chris Hipkins in the “Hipkins continues to question Speaker impartiality” posting with the question added, “For those who haven’t been watching, which parts are wrong?”


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