Speaker’s ruling on written questions

The Speaker Trevor Mallard gave a ruling in Parliament yesterday on the Government tactic of avoiding answering written questions.

SPEAKER’S RULINGS

Written QuestionsReplies

Mr SPEAKER: I have reviewed some replies to written questions provided recently. The Minister for Economic Development has responded to a series of questions saying that they are out of order under Standing Order 380. That is not an answer to the question. It is not for Ministers to rule things out of order. Only I may rule on relevance and admissibility. If it appears to a Minister that the question is not in order, then the proper course is to return it to the Clerk’s office or to enter into a discussion with the Clerk’s office, or to enter into a discussion with the Clerk’s office.

I have also seen written questions asking what meetings a Minister has attended between certain dates that have been answered by “What is meant by meetings?” That is not an answer to the question. If a Minister is not clear what a question means, he or she could contact the member who has asked the question in order to seek clarification. A Minister’s office should be able to receive clarification and provide a reply to the question within six working days.

I remind Ministers of their duty to the House, and through the House, to the country to account for the public offices they hold. Ministers should give informative replies to the questions they are asked, where it is consistent with the public interest to do so—Speakers rulings’ 176/5 and 177/5.

The questions that I have mentioned today will be returned to Ministers, and I would expect that they would be replied to urgently. I will continue to review answers to written questions periodically to ensure questions are being addressed.

 

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25 Comments

  1. Good to see Farrar still having a go, despite losing his access rights – that must have stung!

    Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  December 8, 2017

      Will it? The PR distribution network that is Kiwiblog does not require its principle to have physical access to parliament. Parliament comes to him.

      Just like The Standard does not need physical access to parliament. MP’s or their staff come to them to disseminate anything “anonymously” that needs broadcasting.

      Parliamentary access was important before social media became widespread but these days, simple texts, phone calls, emails, tweets, instagrams, skype and a myriad of social media applications means physical contact and face to face meetings are not as important.

      Nor are physical face to face meetings as immediate or rapid as electronic information dissemination.

      Time to move into the 22nd century if you think access to parliament (or the loss there off) is still important.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  December 8, 2017

        getting a bit ahead of yourself there…’Time to move into the 22nd century if you think access to parliament (or the loss there off) is still important.’…tell that to all the lobby groups…new one resurrected now Labour in..charge.

        Reply
        • Gerrit

           /  December 8, 2017

          I would say that having his cell phone number in as many MP’s and their staff mobiles (and vices versa) is far more important than having physical access to parliament buildings.

          Access to buildings does not equate to access to MP’s or their staff. Secretaries to mollycoddle, appointments to be made, time wasting running around, etc..

          Winston Peters may be one of the few that may like the face to face over a single malt but I would say that would be the exception rather than the rule.

          Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  December 8, 2017

        “Parliament comes to him”
        The Opposition/National Party, you surely mean.

        Reply
        • Gerrit

           /  December 8, 2017

          Is her majesties royal opposition not part of parliament? He will be used by anyone inside parliament if it suits their purposes.

          Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  December 8, 2017

      He’ll be turned away at the door – that’s a fall from grace. Nice to see ya’all sticking up for the guy though!

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  December 8, 2017

        He does not even need to show up at the door to have access to the people inside.

        Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  December 8, 2017

          Doesn’t need to may as well not bother to show up at the door to have access to the people inside National Party/Opposition.

          Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  December 8, 2017

          Graeme Edgeler’s comment (above) is good, though he should have used “occasionally” where he wrote “sometimes”.

          Reply
  2. George

     /  December 8, 2017

    Mallard might just turn out to be a not bad speaker.
    However he got educated by the previous speaker who was unhappy at the waffling rulings and hopefully will not do that again

    Reply
  3. Ray

     /  December 8, 2017

    I have to say Trevor is making all the right noises and moves to be an excellent Speaker, possible an outstanding one but early days yet.
    Poacher turned Gamekeeper etc.

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  December 8, 2017

      Kiwiblog ranters loathe Trevor Mallard and have demeaned him for years. Remember the cycle challenge from Cameron Slater? Trevor kicked that arse. Righties screeched for weeks about that. Wasn’t Trevor recovering from a serious cycle crash leading up to the Slater challenge? Made of stern stuff, Mr Speaker!

      Reply
      • You dismiss kiwibloggers as “ranters”. Any inkling as to what they might think of you ?
        Nonody screeched about Mallard bearing WO in bike race. Au contraire respect for both parties by both parties was restored( albeit temporarily). This is the manner which men do things. Better than slugging it out in parliament. .

        Reply
      • Ray

         /  December 8, 2017

        There is plenty to dislike about Trevor, fighting in Parliament, ripping young people off on Trademe with tickets, various women, school closures and of course he was a school teacher.
        But I forgive him most of that if he really turns out to be a top Speaker.
        And so far he is looking good.

        Reply
  4. Keeping Stock (lifted from WO)

    Wednesday afternoon, something happened that I have certainly never seen before in my many years of watching Parliament. Mallard was asked to reconsider a far-reaching decision he had made by former Speaker David Carter. For Carter to intervene in this issue, so publicly, suggests that Mallard is in over his head.

    Here’s the point of order raised by Carter:

    OF ORDER

    Speakers’ Rulings—Interpretation of Speaker’s Ruling 20/5

    Rt Hon DAVID CARTER (National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to ask you to give serious consideration to a considered ruling to points that were raised at the start of question time around retrospectively raising points of order. I did not make that point at the time, because I considered that your patience was getting to a stage when it may have been dangerous to do so. But as you and I know, when we go back and look at Hansard, subsequent to question time, we often see pieces in that Hansard that we wish to question and raise with the Speaker.

    You and I both sat on the Standing Orders Committee and were both partly responsible for the inclusion of Speaker’s ruling 20/5 around the ability to raise issues retrospectively. You will remember, without doubt, the history of why that particular point was put into the report of the Standing Orders Committee and consequently into Speakers’ rulings. I think it is a very dangerous precedent that could be potentially made by your initial ruling today that, unless matters are raised instantly, they cannot be raised at all. I ask whether you would consider the points that I think were raised considerately by members at the start of question time, particularly by Opposition members, and have a look at Hansard again and perhaps come back to the House with a considered ruling and the ability for us to raise, retrospectively, points of order that we think are worthwhile raising.

    There was no discussion that I recall during the deliberations of the Standing Orders Committee about a stage by which such concerns were raised privately with the Speaker in his office. Members of Parliament—Opposition and Government—have rights to raise points of order and I ask you to reconsider very carefully your original initial ruling made at the start of question time today.

    Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

    Mr SPEAKER: No, no, I don’t want any assistance with this. I want to thank my right honourable predecessor for his intervention. I will seek further advice on this. Clearly, we have different memories of the reasoning behind this and the methodology to be used, and if it’s shown that his memory is better than mine, which I wouldn’t at all be surprised by, then I will come back to the House.

    As you note, Mallard started off well, but over the last few days, and especially in dealing with Smith yesterday, his partisanship has revealed itself. Mallard is tribal Labour, and the title Rt Hon is not going to change that.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  December 8, 2017

      “For Carter to intervene in this issue, so publicly, suggests that Mallard is in over his head.”

      For anyone to say Carter intervening in this issue, so publicly suggests that Mallard is in over his head, suggests that they hate Mallard, hate him being Speaker and hate Labour being in government. And ignored what happened the next day.

      I watched both days live and it is good to have access to the what happened.

      Thursday

      Retrospective Rulings—Interpretation of Speaker’s Ruling 20/5

      “Mr SPEAKER: The second point: yesterday, the Rt Hon David Carter raised with me the issue of retrospective rulings on matters of order. I’ve reflected on that matter and on methods of disagreeing with a ruling of the Chair. Earlier this year the Standing Orders Committee considered the matter of retrospective rulings.

      An extract from the committee’s report appears as Speaker’s ruling 20/5. However, in light of the matters raised, it is worth referring to the full text of the report at page 14: “There is a well-established prohibition on raising points of order in the House about events that have passed. This helps ensure that points of order address matters that are relevant to the maintenance of order at that point in time and are not themselves used to disrupt the order of the House. This prohibition on retrospective points of order is appropriate and we encourage Speakers to continue not to entertain them. We consider, however, that the Speaker is able to deal retrospectively in the House with matters of order if the Speaker considers it is important and in the House’s interest to do so. The Speaker’s primary task is to preside over the effective conduct of proceedings. Where an incident may have a continued impact on the House’s ability to deal with its business, the Speaker can address the matter. Members should raise such issues privately with the Speaker, outside the House. This ensures that the prohibition on retrospective points of order remains undisturbed and members can discuss their concerns with the Speaker away from the charged atmosphere of the Chamber. There is still, of course, a strong presumption that points of order will be raised immediately. As always, rulings of the Speaker are final. A retrospective ruling on a matter of order does not reopen the matter for discussion.”

      The committee intended that the Speaker could, on his or her initiative, deal with retrospective matters of order. It did not empower members to raise such matters on the floor of the House and, in fact, required them to be raised privately with the Speaker. While the event that led to the change involved a comment that the Speaker had not heard, the report did not restrict members’ rights to raise a variety of matters relating to the order of the House and the rights of members. The presumption remains that a point of order must be raised once and cannot be raised by a member at a later time—Speakers’ rulings 20/3 and 20/4.

      Speakers from Guinness through to Carter have ruled that when a matter has been the subject of a decision by the Chair, that decision is final and comment on it is not allowed. Members have a right and a duty to raise points of order where they feel the House is outside its Standing Orders, but any attempt to bring into question the Chair’s decision is out of order and is in no way protected by the Standing Orders. To persist in doing so, despite warning, makes it a highly disorderly procedure—Speakers’ ruling 22/3. The only way to challenge the ruling of a Speaker is by a direct motion on notice—Speakers’ rulings 17/6 and 18/1.

      Points of order are not intended to ask questions or to seek clarification. They are to deal with matters of order at the time they are occurring in the House or to draw the Speaker’s attention to the fact that a member intends to exercise a right given by Standing Orders, such as making a personal explanation. I thank the Rt Hon David Carter for raising this matter. I will circulate this ruling immediately and I will be available in my office from 5 to 6 p.m. today and again next week, if members require further clarification.”

      Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  December 8, 2017

      Keeping Stock, the disgraced Keeping Stock of “Dirty Politics” repute, John Key-adoring Keeping Stock is regularly wrong and relentlessly anti-Left; he’s wrong about this issue and wrong to continue with his dirty business, despite being busted for it. Long memories, us Lefties have!

      Reply
      • Messenger, not message as usual. The new speaker hasn’t a clue and he’s intemperate and erratic.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  December 9, 2017

          Actually that sounds more like a description of the last one.

          Reply
          • Hmmm. Don’t think ex had a patch on Mallard when it vines to intemperance.

            You would stick up for a duck wouldn’t you!

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  December 9, 2017

              😍 😀 Yup.
              Even Al did at the cafe at Waitangi yesterday. He was very generous of spirit to a hungry one.

  1. Speaker’s Rulings — Retrospective Rulings | Your NZ

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