Little’s lame response

Opposition parties will have been very happy about yesterday’s revelations impacting on Todd Barclay, Bill English, National and the Government.

But Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little has been a bit lame in capitalising. He had an opportunity in Question Time in Parliament yesterday:

2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he believe that the moral standards he sets as Prime Minister are high enough?

@robhosking responded:

this is a daft scattergun, kitchen sink attack from Little. Needed a surgical strike, not a widely aimed rant.

RNZ:  PM and MP’s conduct in question over recordings

The Labour leader Andrew Little says Barclay is causing chaos, and that it’s totally unacceptable that Bill English hasn’t insisted he cooperate with the police.

Barclay, like anyone, has a legal right not to speak to the police if being investigated. Barclay says he acted on legal advice in not speaking to the police.

I think it would be totally inappropriate for English to have insisted how Barclay dealt with the police.

Little:

“It looks to me like that all the way along, Bill English, Todd Barclay, and possibly others, have done everything the can to play this whole thing down.

“Look, it’s a classic lesson in politics. So often it’s not the original transgression, it’s the cover up that kills you, and that’s what’s happening now.”

The original transgression, an MP allegedly illegally recording an employee in the workplace, seems serious enough to me. But that’s just a back bench MP, not the PM.

The media are hard out holding Barclay and English to account. Little doesn’t need to do much, but his contribution has been lame.

UPDATE: Little has just been interviewed on RNZ. He says that Barclay should resign. That’s probably a fair call, many are suggesting that is an appropriate action, but Little called for another MP to resign a day or two ago so that reduces the impact of this call.

He said he wouldn’t go as far as saying that English should resign.

Transcript from Question Time:


2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he believe that the moral standards he sets as Prime Minister are high enough?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes, but we can always do better.

Andrew Little: Is it one of his moral standards that Minister who become aware of a breach of the law by a high-ranking public official should report it to the police; if not, why not?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I would expect any Minister who became aware of possible breaches of the law to bring it to the attention of the authorities.

Andrew Little: Why has he left it until today to confirm that he himself gave information to the police about one of his MPs and an allegation of unlawful conduct on the part of that—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I just ask the member to reflect very quickly on that question, and I am going to read four Speakers’ rulings that I think are relevant. Speaker’s ruling 172/2: “The Prime Minister and Ministers are responsible for only those matters that fall within their responsibilities as Ministers, not as leaders of parties. That [applies to] all parties in the House.” Speaker’s ruling 172/3: “The Prime Minister is answerable for any statements made as Prime Minister. But the Prime Minister is not answerable for actions taken in a non-ministerial capacity, whether as Leader of the Opposition or as leader of a political party.” Speaker’s ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through the Parliamentary Service to the party.” Speaker’s ruling 173/2: “The Prime Minister has no responsibility either for what occurred at a select committee or for a member of the caucus.” I invite the member to consider his questions very carefully, but he needs to keep those four important Speakers’ rulings in mind as he proceeds with his line of questioning.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand that the comment that the Leader of the Opposition was questioning the Prime Minister about was made at a prime ministerial press conference. Therefore, he must be able to be questioned about it in the House.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, no. I do not think that is—[Interruption] Order! I do not think that is necessarily the case, particularly when I look at Speaker’s ruling 173/2: “The Prime Minister has no responsibility … for a member of the caucus.” So if it is a ministerial responsibility—[Interruption] Order! I am only relating what are the precedents that have been established in this House. The member might not agree, but she does not need to disagree with me while I am reading what is a Speaker’s ruling. I am not ruling any question out at this stage. It is going to be a difficult issue for me to negotiate my way through. I will do my best, but I am asking the member to carefully think of those four Speakers’ rulings as he frames his continuation of questions.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In making those decisions about which questions should be in order or not, one of the important distinctions that we ask you to consider is that the Prime Minister is responsible for the conduct of Ministers and what Ministers do with information that comes into their possession, including whether that information was received whilst they were in a current or in a previous role. So the Prime Minister, as Prime Minister today, may have received information in a previous ministerial role. As he is now the Prime Minister, he can still be questioned about when he knew that and what he did with that information.

Mr SPEAKER: I think that is absolutely true, and if you consider the first supplementary question advanced by the Leader of the Opposition, it fell into exactly that category. Andrew Little—to continue his supplementary questions.

Andrew Little: Was the then Minister of Finance behaving ethically on 1 March 2016, when he told media that he had not directly talked to his former staff about Todd Barclay’s alleged illegal recordings, when in truth he had directly contacted both Glenys Dickson and Stuart Davie about it?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The then finance Minister, I presume, was answering questions about a matter that was in the media and under investigation.

Andrew Little: Is the Prime Minister standing by the conduct of his then Minister of Finance when being asked whether he had direct contact with people associated with the allegations involving the then MP—and still current MP—for Clutha-Southland, and went on to say he had had no direct contact with anybody involved in those affairs, which we now know to be untrue?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, and I understand there was some further explanation of that this morning.

Andrew Little: Does he agree with his statement that “It’s not leadership to cover up and hope it all goes away?”; if so, why is he covering things up and hoping they will just go away?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I disagree with that. I think a statement to the police is not a cover-up.

Andrew Little: In light of his conduct in relation to not only Todd Barclay but also Alfred Ngaro threating housing NGOs who criticise the Government, Nicky Wagner disrespecting people with disabilities, Simon Bridges attempting to unlawfully withhold public information, why has the Prime Minister always chosen to defend their conduct rather than defend the moral standards Kiwis expect?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the first place, I dispute a number of those statements. Secondly, I think Ministers have demonstrated their adherence to much higher standards than previous Governments because they recognise their mistakes and apologise for them quite quickly. That is how you maintain standards. People will always make mistakes; the question is what you do to fix them.

Andrew Little: If the conduct of Todd Barclay, Alfred Ngaro, Nicky Wagner, and Simon Bridges is OK by him, how can he possibly claim to have any moral standards at all?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: Again, I disagree with some of the member’s statements, but the conduct he refers to was dealt with by the Ministers who recognised for themselves that their conduct did not reach the standards required by this Government, and they corrected those mistakes pretty quickly.

Andrew Little: Given today’s new revelations about Pike River, which contradict his Government’s repeated claims, is it morally acceptable for him to delay and frustrate the grieving Pike River families’ desire to see justice and get their men back?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I certainly understand the distress of the families, particularly as these matters have been drawn out in a way that must have some of them reliving the tragedy regularly. All the matters that have been raised by the families were dealt with by a royal commission. It is not a matter of what the Government thinks; it is a matter of what the royal commission did, where the families were fully represented. Rather than delaying and frustrating the families, we are actually working with them now on a plan, which is about to be implemented, for a safe, unmanned investigation of the drift.

Andrew Little: How did his Government’s morals come to include bullying staff and critics, covering up its mistakes, refusing to cooperate with the police, all the while ignoring New Zealanders who are desperate for mental health care, desperate for a warm, dry home, and desperate for a place to call their own; and is it not, after 9 years, time for this Government to stop governing in the interests of the National Party and govern in the interests of all New Zealanders?

Mr SPEAKER: The Rt Hon Prime Minister—the first part of that question is in order.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: As demonstrated by the recent Budget, which Labour voted against, we focus on the issues that matter, such as raising the incomes of the lowest-income households in New Zealand. In fact, it is because Ministers deal with their issues quickly, recognise mistakes, and move on that we have been able to stay focused on the issues that matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did he check out the facts when he conveniently forgot his involvement in the Barclay affair or his involvement with the Prime Minister’s budget going towards Barclay’s staff—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, we are in the same territory where we have already been. There is no prime ministerial responsibility for a member of Mr English’s caucus.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister’s budget is the relevant point, with respect, that brings this question inside the ambit of the Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER: No; that is exactly the reason it is no longer in line with the Standing Orders. I refer the member to Speaker’s Ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through the Parliamentary Service to the party.” This question is out of order. [Interruption] Order! I have dealt with the matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am seeking a point of clarity.

Mr SPEAKER: What is it?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: You are saying it is the Parliamentary Service budget. This, of course, came from the Prime Minister’s office. Are you saying it is the same thing?

Mr SPEAKER: No, it is exactly the same as the leader’s budget.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will put the question again, then.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the question has been ruled out of order. If the member wants to ask a fresh supplementary question and have another go, he can do so.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I am reframing the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been ruled out of order. It is lost. It is gone. If the member wants to have another—[Interruption]. Well, then, the member rises and asks for another supplementary question. Supplementary question—the Rt Hon Winston Peters. [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I am not putting up with this behaviour from a very senior member of this Parliament. He either starts to behave himself or he will be leaving the Chamber. If he wants a supplementary question, he rises to his feet and asks it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Am I entitled to ask my question in silence, without the backbench barraging me?

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, the member is totally entitled to, but when he rises to his feet he gets on with the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister whether he conveniently forgot his involvement in the Barclay affair, and how come he told the media one thing that demonstrably is not true?

Mr SPEAKER: As far as there may be some prime ministerial responsibility I am inviting the Prime Minister—if he wishes to address it, he can. [Interruption] Order! The question has been asked. It was a very marginal question. I left it there. The Prime Minister does not have to rise to answer it. [Interruption] Order! If a member wishes to leave the Chamber—that is completely unacceptable parliamentary language. The member will now stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Chris Hipkins: I withdraw and apologise.

 

 

 

 

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41 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  June 21, 2017

    Reading the transcript… does not sound… lame… to moi.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  June 21, 2017

      Your selective reading again I suggest.

      The opposition have been very poor in exploiting this – if Barclay resigns no long-term damage done.

      Reply
      • High Flying Duck

         /  June 21, 2017

        Nothing drives a point home better than mindless waffle and diverting from the subject. Outstanding politics from the angry one!

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  June 21, 2017

          Gordon Maclauchlan wrote about NZ’ers =’The Passionless People’. decades ago.Some haven’t changed,thank goodness some have and do have passion.Dour Billy is not one of them.

          Reply
    • Hipkins did better.
      Carter tried to shut it down at the start.
      The Boy Wonder tore him a new one.

      Carter chucked him out later for saying Get Some Guts ! Outrageous ruling – Speaker should be sent to The Stocks for it.

      Reply
      • High Flying Duck

         /  June 21, 2017

        Labour should have put up their fine handling of the Darren Hughes affair as an example of the high ethical standards that need to be upheld when in office.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  June 21, 2017

          Interested in history-in-the-making here, not ancient history.
          Hard enuff putting up with Blazer’s constant bloody whining.
          Don’t you start. You’re old enuff to know better.

          Reply
          • patupaiarehe

             /  June 21, 2017

            You watching Question Time G? The opposition have had a far better day today….

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  June 21, 2017

            😮 Jesus ❗️ Nearly shat meself !
            Where did you come from ?

            No – doing a few projects. It gets repeated on Channel 31 tho, & PG might post any good bits with a bit of luck.

            Found ya a Stones number dunno if you’da heard:
            https://yournz.org/2017/06/20/macgregor-files-lawsuit-against-craig/#comment-195221

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 21, 2017

              I’m on nightshift, so had a sleep in, then thought I’d sneak up on you here 😉
              Here’s a little ‘spoiler’ for you…

              Grant Robertson is giving the PM a right old hiding ATM, in general debate. It hasn’t been a good day for the representative for Tga either… 😀

          • High Flying Duck

             /  June 21, 2017

            Pots and kettles and all that.

            I’m still trying to work out the issue in this one. There was a recording, but it does seem the employee was causing a lot of trouble.

            The so called “cover-up” is also a little difficult given it seems BE was completely candid with the police, and that they had full information before deciding not to charge.

            Lots of smoke, with little to get actually upset about.

            Barclay has gone, which is completely appropriate as he appears to have flat out lied.

            I tried to find it again, but I read a news report about BE not remembering who told him of the tape and apparently he said at that time “it may have been Todd Barclay”. If this is true then it hardly speaks to a cover up on that issue either.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              Yeah, I know – sorry about that. He gave me a bit of a dig elsewhere today & I saw an opening & went for it. He never learns.

              If you mean Labour Pot callin National kettle black given the Hughes case – absobloodylutely !

              Yeah there’s been a bit of mutual scragging going on in the electorate office in the Barclay case I think. Youth & cunning v age & treachery.

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              @ HFD
              Winnie gets to what the issue is, I think, in his Question in The House today that patu posted. Has there been a cover-up & has the PM actually lied. Can he be believed?

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 21, 2017

              I’m not a big fan of the Greens G, but James Shaw got to the issue very clearly & concisely as well, IMHO…

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              James Shaw knows far more than Andrew Little about how to construct a proper, careful, cunning sequence of Questions.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  June 21, 2017

              What is it he lied about exactly?
              He spoke to the police 18 months ago and his statement is not challenged.
              Yesterday he didn’t lie – he simply stalled in the morning and clarified in the afternoon.
              Even in the morning he said “it may have been Todd Barclay that told him (about the recording)”, which is hardly hiding tracks.

              I guess there the issue that Todd Barclay was telling people nothing happened and BE didn’t correct him, but on that we don’t know the facts of the case so cannot push that either unless some clarity comes out.

              I can understand the opposition milking this, but it seems to be a storm in a tea cup and just messy internal politics being dragged out to make them look bad.

              Until more information comes out (if it does) there is nothing overly damaging here I think.

              James Shaw was terrible. Asked the same question about 12 times and got the only possible answer each time in return. We learned nothing.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 21, 2017

              If we learned nothing HFD, that is due to poor answers, not poor questions…..

            • High Flying Duck

               /  June 21, 2017

              Patu, James Shaw was asking over and over about the PM pressuring the police commissioner who is entirely independent.

              He was told the commissioner was independent so could not have political pressure brought to bear.

              I only needed to hear that once.

              Not sure what other answer Paula could give to the many versions of the same question that were asked…

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              😳 I’m often not wrong, H?

              I can understand the opposition milking this, but it seems to be a storm in a tea cup and just messy internal politics being dragged out to make them look bad.

              Um. True. Is there an election this year or something ?

              James Shaw was terrible. Asked the same question about 12 times and got the only possible answer each time in return. We learned nothing.

              No he didn’t. He got the same answer for most of them, but he knew he would. The questions were different, they led somewhere, & each one further developed the ultimate question or suggestion he wanted to put in the minds of the viewing public, whatever the Minister said.

              Was (& is) there political pressure & interference with the Police, & also local National Party threats to Glenys Dickson (or was it her family) ?

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              And just in relation to that issue of any political influence with police, in my opinion, yes, there sometimes is, & always has been.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  June 21, 2017

              Absolutely Gezz. I know what Shaw was doing, but only tragics will see the exchange – it won’t be on the news.

              I believe all that is being looked at though by police and some investigations in-party.

              Another odd point – the person who allegedly put pressure on the staffer was dead against Todd Barclay.

              Here’s a good analysis:

              “Barclay was 24 when he replaced English in the Clutha-Southland seat, and even some of his supporters wonder whether he was mature enough to become an MP.

              He faced an entrenched and much older office staff who had been used to filling in for English who only visited the electorate infrequently because he was Finance Minister and Deputy Leader.

              Relations between Barclay and the staff soon broke down.

              And in April last year Glenys Dickson, the staff member at the centre of the row resigned.

              Ever since Barclay has been the subject of a long-running campaign against him from Dickson and her supporters in the electorate.

              One former electorate chair, Lloyd Anderson, a Gore real estate agent, described the dissidents as the “evil six”.

              Allegations and counter-allegations flowed through the year, so the National Party sent the chair of the NZ Racing Board and a member of its board, Glenda Hughes, to investigate what was going on.

              She apparently inflamed things and seems to have ended up joining the criticism of Barclay.

              She is said to have supported a challenge to him by merchant banker, Simon Flood, last December.

              However, Barclay won the selection at a selection meeting that had over 100 delegates present and the Otago Daily Times reported that most stood and clapped and cheered when his victory was announced.

              There matters might have rested.

              But the Newsroom story showed, in the words of one senior party official, that having failed to get Barclay de-selected, the opposition were now using the media to achieve the same goal.

              Officials said that claims that selection meetings had been stacked with ineligible delegates were frequently made because the National Party has a very loose system of appointing delegates to its selection meetings.

              They thought it unlikely that even if some delegates were ruled ineligible in Clutha-Southland that it would have any effect on the overall vote count.

              That’s what Wilkinson is trying to sort out.

              There have also been allegations that NZ First has been involved in the machinations within the electorate, including a persistent claim that Dickson, was working with NZ First MP Ria Bond.

              Last year at NZ First’s conference in Dunedin, a party official promised media that there would be a revelation of National Party members from Clutha-Southland who had defected to NZ First.

              But no further evidence was offered or names produced.

              Last night, NZ First’s Clutha-Southland candidate, Mark Patterson told POLITIK that though NZ First was picking up support from former National members, he was sure Dickson, who was an old friend, was not working with Bond.

              “There’s widespread disappointment with Todd’s conduct and general performance,” he said.

              He said Barclay was perceived to have not been active enough on local issues like the future of the Lumsden maternity hospital or the Telford Farm Training Institute.

              But National’s real problems are not with Barclay and Clutha-Southland — they are with the big dent that English’s credibility has taken because of the way he has handled the matter.

              It’s becoming a truism of politics everywhere; that it’s usually not the scandal that matters but the cover-up afterwards.

              http://politik.co.nz/en/content/politics/1122/

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 21, 2017

              Yup, just allegations of corruption, made under parliamentary privilege. Move right along, nothing to see here… Just ask ‘Simple Simon’…

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              @ H
              Yeah, I read that over @ the Cetacean Station earlier today – someone lonked to it in another thread. The first point is, Shaw’s line re the Police may well get picked up or logged by the Press Gallery.

              The second is, keeping any pressure on Bill & his team & his party is now the name of the game. That poll lead of National’s in part relies on his aura of (aside from the double-dipping of yore) his stolidness, good Catholic influence on his predecessor (imo) & his probity. Imo, anyway.

              All Shaw has to do is turn away some swing voters – the man is actually politically acute imo.

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              🙄 FiP ! *lonked = linked

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              🌸 🖕

  2. Blazer

     /  June 21, 2017

    You have actually managed to work out the issue…. Barclay has gone!

    Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  June 21, 2017

      No he hasn’t Blazer, he will go when parliament goes into recess before the election. They wouldn’t want to endanger their majority….

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  June 21, 2017

        V gd.

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 21, 2017

        Exactly what the tuakana pointed out to me iMessaging about The Prime Rocks Dylan doco last nite. 👍

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  June 21, 2017

          (God he’s a fkn know-all too, I’ll never hear the end of that ! I luv ‘im like an Irish brother tho.)

          Reply
  3. patupaiarehe

     /  June 21, 2017

    Listen to this. If Phil Twyford were leader, I reckon Labour might actually have a chance….

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  June 21, 2017

      Very Shakespearean – much ado about about nothing.

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  June 21, 2017

        Perhaps it is. But can you imagine Andy, making as much ‘ado’, as well as Phil did?

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  June 21, 2017

          You’re not wrong about that – watching Andy grill Bill is a long way from Lange at Oxford. Very hard watching. Phil can string a sentence but I thought he went a little overboard with the grand oratory given the subject matter.

          Reply
      • Blazer

         /  June 21, 2017

        ‘ a storm in a tea cup ‘…’ much ado about about nothing.’…..’The so called “cover-up”…’Lots of smoke, with little to get actually upset about.’…….I hope you don’t claim to be…objective about this matter.

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  June 21, 2017

          I wouldn’t dare, Blazer. I only know what I have seen in the MSM, & on ‘Parliament TV’. Which means that I am just as clueless…as you… 😛

          Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  June 21, 2017

          All we have so far is an employment matter being settled with a cash payout.
          English didn’t lie – or if he did I haven’t seen where (happy to be corrected on this). Todd did lie and is rightfully gone, although from what I have seen the staffer deserved to be sacked and it was more his methods than his motives that were offside.

          If the police re-open the case then the smoke becomes fire. Until then it is a relatively minor matter being egged on for all it’s worth, as all opposition parties are wont to do.

          It pales in comparison to the Darren Hughes affair though – that had everything!

          Reply
    • PDB

       /  June 21, 2017

      Phil Twyford – Chinese name hater? Don’t think so Patu………

      Reply

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