Parliament disarray continued

On Wednesday Paula Bennett walked out of Parliament in frustration at Speaker’s rulings. Yesterday Trevor Mallard ejected Bennett from the House in frustration at an ongoing and escalating stoush between the Opposition and the Speaker.

Question 4 was the big blow up but it was far from the only confrontation yesterday.

Question No. 4—Transport

4. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Transport: Does he remain committed to his proposals for new and increased fuel taxes in light of recent reports of petrol prices reaching record highs; if so, what consideration, if any, will he give to the increased cost of living his fuel tax proposals will have on New Zealand families?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): I am committed to striking—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! Can I ask—Ms Bennett, can you just wait at least until the Minister’s started answering before you start your interjections.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I am committed to striking a balance between affordability and taking urgent action on the transport infrastructure deficit that we inherited. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates that the changes to fuel taxes will see an average family in Auckland pay an extra $5 per week. By contrast, our Government’s Families Package will put $75 a week into the pockets of 384,000 low to middle income families. In terms of considering the impact of taxes on fuel prices, I intend to follow the same process as the Hon Simon Bridges did in 2015.

Jami-Lee Ross: If petrol prices continue to increase, will he revisit his proposals to increase fuel taxes, which will raise petrol prices even higher?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: International oil price fluctuations have a far greater influence on petrol prices than the policy of the previous Government and this Government of regular, small excise increases. As successive Governments have shown, it makes no sense to make major infrastructure investment decisions based on highly volatile oil price fluctuations. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I’m just going to ask Mr Hudson and Mr Stuart Smith just to turn their volume down a little bit.

Marja Lubeck: What reports has he seen of past Governments varying the amount of fuel tax levied to match variations in the global oil prices?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: None.

Jami-Lee Ross: Is he concerned that the rising cost of petrol will increase even further if he is successful in increasing fuel taxes by up to 25c a litre?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, as I’ve tried to make abundantly clear to the member, the increase in fuel excise is a very, very small increase compared to oil price fluctuations. And I would point out to the member that instead of paying $400 million to the wealthiest 10 percent, this Government’s putting—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Jami-Lee Ross: Is he saying that his proposal to increase fuel taxes in Auckland by up to 25c a litre—as he’s announced—is small?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, what I would point out is that 25c is the maximum rate that was consulted on in the draft Government policy statement. It’s not necessarily the rate that we’re going to settle on. It applies only in Auckland, where the regional fuel tax is in place, not to the rest of the country. The reason that we are investing in our transport system is because we’ve inherited a legacy of an infrastructure deficit after nine years of totally unbalanced transport policies. We’re committed to doing the right thing for this country and the right thing for the economy.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question earlier was ruled out because we were referring to 2017, yet the Minister seems to be able to make comment about the last nine years as he wishes to, and I’m just asking for some clarification.

Mr SPEAKER: I have a feeling the member’s trying to relitigate a ruling I made quite some time ago. I think I will ignore it.

Hon David Bennett: Oh, you can’t do that. You just ignore things.

Marja Lubeck: What lessons will the Minister take from past increases of fuel excise while international petrol prices were high?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: In 2015, the fuel excise was increased after petrol prices increased by 40c per litre. Prices later stabilised and returned to $1.70 per litre by the end of that year, 2015. I’ve learnt from that experience that you cannot make infrastructure investment decisions based on international oil price fluctuations. They’re simply too volatile. I learnt also from the former transport Minister that those fluctuations dwarf the changes in the fuel excise.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! David Bennett will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member knows absolutely that he interjected an unparliamentary remark in my direction during the asking of the supplementary question.

Hon David Bennett: And what for? Why do I withdraw and apologise?

Mr SPEAKER: Sorry?

Hon David Bennett: Why do I withdraw and apologise, Mr Speaker?

Mr SPEAKER: Why?

Hon David Bennett: Yes.

Mr SPEAKER: Because the member made an unparliamentary remark and it was exacerbated by the fact that it was done during the asking of a supplementary question.

Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What was the unparliamentary remark?

Mr SPEAKER: I’m not going to repeat what the member said about me. Withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: Mr Speaker, I need an explanation—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member will withdraw and apologise now or I will take more serious action than has happened in the House for quite some time. Is the member going to withdraw and apologise?

Hon Paula Bennett: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I’m not having a point of order. I am waiting for Mr Bennett to decide whether he will comply with my instruction to withdraw and apologise for reflecting on the Chair while a supplementary question was being asked. Is the member going to withdraw and apologise?

Hon David Bennett: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I’m not having a point of order, Mr Bennett. You’re either going to withdraw and apologise or I will name you. [Interruption] Order!

Hon David Bennett: I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Sorry, sir, but it is in reflection to me yesterday having to withdraw and apologise. I genuinely do not know what it was for. I did not make a comment as I left, and this is leading to this kind of disorder, when we don’t know what the actual line is as to what you find offensive and what you don’t. I’ve looked at Hansard. I know what I said as I left. I made no disparaging remarks about you last night, and this leads to my colleagues in a position now where—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat. The member will resume her seat. If she wants an explanation for how she breached Standing Orders yesterday, I suggest she watches the TV, either on Parliament TV or on at least one of the news channels to see herself interjecting on her feet as she left.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Is it a new point of order, Mr Brownlee—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes.

Mr SPEAKER: —or is it a relitigation?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, it’s a new point of order. People might like to look at the TVNZ clip that’s currently running, of a member challenging the Speaker on frequent occasions and ultimately being required to leave the House, and being quite messy all the way through. On none of those occasions was the member named. My question simply is: why do we go suddenly from a position where the Speaker does not want to, apparently, make people leave the House, does not explain what an offence might be, but then simply requires people to accept the arbitrary decision of the Chair or be named, which everyone knows is quite an extreme step for anyone in this House? It seems the step that—we’ve gone from a very, very simple straightforward position of how you deal with these things to one that is quite Draconian. And I think that is the problem we’ve got with the inconsistency of the way the Chair’s operating at the present time.

Mr SPEAKER: I note the member’s comments but, as the member knows well, naming is—I think Standing Order 90—the punishment for being grossly disorderly. And refusing to withdraw and apologise for quite an extended period of time is grossly disorderly.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If it’s the same matter, Ms Bennett, you’re running a serious risk of losing a number of supplementary questions from your team from the first Tuesday back.

Hon Paula Bennett: So, to be clear, Mr Speaker, what I wish to be is actually not unruly in this House. So I need clarification that it was yesterday when I said “It’s a waste of time” that you took such offence to that I had to come back and—well, when I come back you insisted that I withdraw—

Mr SPEAKER: That’s exactly right. If the member had not said that she was leaving the House, I would have required her to withdraw and apologise then. But seeing as she was self-banishing herself, I thought that that was the best way of dealing with it and we could get on with business. I did reflect to the member later on that on a previous occasion, when I had done exactly the same thing—made a comment as I was self-banishing—the Speaker sent for me and made me come back and apologise, and then booted me out again. The member was treated pretty leniently.

Hon David Bennett: Yeah, didn’t get named though.

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! No, the member will resume her seat. Mr Bennett will withdraw and apologise again.

Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member will withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: I just want to table a withdrawal, because I might as well be using it all the time, the way the House is going at the moment.

Mr SPEAKER: So the member’s declining to withdraw and apologise?

Hon David Bennett: No, I’m seeking your guidance—

Mr SPEAKER: No, you’re not seeking my guidance; you’re going to withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: Mr Speaker, what for? I just—I need to know what I did wrong.

Mr SPEAKER: Mr Bennett, you reflected on the Chair, on my ruling—again. I mean, the member understands what he does. He is not an unintelligent member. It’s not something that happens accidentally. But the member should be able to remember sort of 30 seconds after he made a comment that he did. The member will withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: [Member pauses] I withdraw and apologise, sir.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is the Chair immune from the provisions of Standing Order 120?

Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, can the member say that a little bit more loudly?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes—is the Chair immune from the provisions of Standing Order 120?

Mr SPEAKER: No.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Then isn’t simply requiring members to withdraw and apologise, without some explanation of the reason for that, impugning improper motives against a member?

Mr SPEAKER: For goodness’ sake! Mr Brownlee, this has got to the point of being ridiculous, the member is—[Interruption] Paula Bennett will leave the Chamber. [Interruption] The member will leave the Chamber.

Hon Paula Bennett withdrew from the Chamber.

Mr SPEAKER: Now, I’ve lost where we were at.

Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think I’m next up, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question—David Bennett.

Hon David Bennett: No, primary question.

40 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  May 25, 2018

    We are beginning to see why Speaker Mallard gave up teaching, we all remember that terrible teacher who displayed the same characteristics of the present Speaker.
    With his past leaking record as well as his behaviour on telling the media about the phrase he thought he heard describing the PM, I suggest his title of Speaker be changed to Leaker Mallard.

    • PDB

       /  May 25, 2018

      First things first – Mallard to get a hearing examination then go from there.

  2. Gerrit

     /  May 25, 2018

    Yes Mallard is loosing control. Both of himself and the house he is supposed to govern fairly.

    Those 1 news clips are showing a side he may regret now.

    To threaten to “name’ a voters representative without even acknowledging or reiterating what the offensive comment was, is demonstrably unfair and against natural justice.

    Could he not simply ask the clerk of the house to read back the quote from Hansards?

    Mallard better change his attitude or he is going to have to a difficult house to govern in the run up to Christmas.

    And shame on David Bennett for withdrawing and apologising before a clarification of which remark the speaker referred to. Weak.

    Perhaps he thought about his constituents (is he list or electorate member?). Perhaps having got Mallard to show himself up to be the bully he is, could be enough for David Bennett for now.

    And Judith Collins is showing why she should have been National party leader with continuing good work holding Twyford to account with a decisive but calmly controlled disposition.

    Jeez, that Simon Bridges is a wet bus ticket looking for a wrist to slap. Cant see his lasting too much longer. Not backing his troops at all.

    • Gezza

       /  May 25, 2018

      Agree about Bridges. He’s not just too mechanical a plodder he’s not very bright and he’s a wimp. Definitely a goner. Even Corky agrees with me there I think.

    • NOEL

       /  May 25, 2018

      “And Judith Collins is showing why she should have been National party leader with continuing good work holding Twyford to account with a decisive but calmly controlled disposition.”

      I thought Paula Bennetts grandstanding was for branding when the roll Bridges and its a Bennett/Collins decision by caucus. Hope Collins doesn’t repeat influence by media again.

  3. Traveller

     /  May 25, 2018

    His threat to name David Bennett is inane and has no precedent in the House .

    • Gezza

       /  May 25, 2018

      Trev is just making a pompous, hypocritical fool of himself now, I’m very sorry to say.
      I must find out what “naming” a member is all about – it did sound really over the top.

      • Gezza

         /  May 25, 2018

        See my explanation of “naming” below.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 25, 2018

    Getting harder to see why Bridges is leader the longer this goes on.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  May 25, 2018

      He is being undermined by Trevor Mallard in a blatant and mean way that makes his position totally unenviable.

  5. Gerrit

     /  May 25, 2018

    People might want to read this Hansard transcript and reflect on the house in disarray (Ann Hartley in the speakers chair).

    Mallard would blow a fuse at the the number and strength of the point of order raised.

    Including this classic

    “ERIC ROY (National—Invercargill) : I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am in some difficulty, because I believe that procedure has not been followed correctly. You will know that when procedural motions take place, such as a closure, the wording of the motion has to be used precisely. The point of order that I make is that if you look at Standing Order 87, you will see that the correct wording of the naming was not adhered to. You said: “I move that the member be named.” Standing Order 87 says: “ ‘That [such member] be suspended from the service of the House’. ” That is the naming process. I put it to you that in your attempt to deal with the disorder that you perceived, you did not use the appropriate wording for the procedural motion that should have ensued at that point.”

  6. duperez

     /  May 25, 2018

    We are beginning to see why Speaker Mallard gave up teaching, we all remember that terrible teacher who displayed the same characteristics of the present Speaker.

    Do we remember pupils who set out to be disruptive, the terrible pupils who displayed the same characteristics of some of the present Members in Parliament? 🙂

    • High Flying Duck

       /  May 25, 2018

      Generally if leadership is shown and respect given it will be reciprocated.
      Mallard has made a mockery of the house and is reaping what he has sown.
      The good teachers when I was at school never had issues with unruly students because they knew how to handle them.
      Question time takes up significant resources. Supplementaries are carefully researched & worded to elicit information over the the full allowance of questions.
      Mallard’s habit of random removal of questions completely destroys any ability the opposition have to question the government effectively.

      • duperez

         /  May 25, 2018

        That’ll be why the Press gallery observer had reason to comment that yesterday the back benchers were consistently making a racket. The apprentices were part of an orchestrated attempt to complain about Parliamentary procedures being made a mockery of?
        If they were serious and wanting to garner real attention they would, along with their ‘leaders’, have all debunked for the period.

        • Gezza

           /  May 25, 2018

          Possibly you mean decamped and not debunked?
          If not, I confess am at something of a loss attempting to make sense of that last sentence.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  May 25, 2018

            Stormy Daniels is not paying a visit?

          • duperez

             /  May 25, 2018

            Decamp it is not debunk. What with cots being detoyed the bedding got tangled.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 25, 2018

              I am not hung up on the unjust treatment of the teacher who punished me and a friend for something that we hadn’t done* and refused to let us defend ourselves,of course, but can remember how frustrating this felt. Magnify that feeling 1,000,000 x and one can imagine the frustration and fury of the MPs who are being treated like children by an unjust teacher taking unfair advantage of his position.

              * laughing and singing silly words to a song in assembly, which we hadn’t done…and how would she know if we had ?

  7. NOEL

     /  May 25, 2018

    Don’t see Brownlee stepping up and introducing a motion of censure on the Speaker which suggests claims of an attack on democracy are just bluster.

    • Gerrit

       /  May 25, 2018

      Give it time. These events have to develop and mature like a good single malt.

      Mallard is going to be twisted up in procedure first to strengthen the attack. He would be well advised to read up, memorise and have at his finger tips all of parliaments standing orders. Question is, can he loose or at least control, his bully attitude?

      Unlike Ann Hartley, Mallard does not have a Micheal Cullen to rescue him.

  8. Zedd

     /  May 25, 2018

    methinks Mallard was a little ‘over the top’, but Carter was happy to boot MPs out (at least weekly) Mallard is trying other options.
    I do think that Natl are deliberately pushing hard to cause disorder.. constant barrages/jeering & inane points of order, followed by ‘attempts to relitigate’ the speakers decisions.. which Carter was also very strict on !

  9. duperez

     /  May 25, 2018

    Chris Trotter:
    “In theory, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition are supposed to impress the Visitor’s Gallery as a government-in-waiting: sagacious, witty and (to use a favourite parliamentary term) honourable. In practice, Simon Bridges’ National Party Opposition comes across as ignorant, boorish and disturbingly truculent.”

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2018/05/24/testing-the-speaker/

    • PartisanZ

       /  May 25, 2018

      Trotter, accurate and colourful, as always …

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  May 25, 2018

        Hopelessly biased, as always … Completely oblivious to the Government’s gross incompetence, even in their choice of Speaker.

  10. Zedd

     /  May 25, 2018

    Its interesting that Natl are ‘casting aspersions’ that Mallard made up (or imagined) the ‘silly little girl’ comment (apparently directed at Jacinda).. BUT this does not mean one of them did not say it, it just means they are all denying it.
    With the constant barrage & jeering, during question-time, it is entirely possible that he did mishear it.. BUT thats the exact point. He had to tell Upston to ‘cease & desist’ at least once, because she was almost drowning out the minister, trying to answer a question.

    methinks that the ‘shadow leader of house’ (Gerry ?) needs to remind them that it is parliament not the schoolyard & that the public are watching/listening to their childish antics

    • Gezza

       /  May 25, 2018

      If you want to see how really OTT it’s all got now – watch this from 4:19

  11. Kitty Catkin

     /  May 25, 2018

    Has anyone heard the tape where the stupid little girl comment supposedly is ?

    • Gezza

       /  May 25, 2018

      I think I might’ve been watching when it supposedly happened but no one else has seen or heard it.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  May 25, 2018

        I would think that you would have heard THAT.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  May 25, 2018

        If it was loud enough for TM to hear, wouldn’t other people have heard it ? And you would have noticed SOMETHING.

        • Zedd

           /  May 25, 2018

          as Mallard was between the opposition & the Govt. maybe he heard it, but it was not loud enough to be heard across the chamber ?

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  May 25, 2018

            Since Mallard was the only one who heard it, maybe he said it?

            • He;s the only one who is sure he heard it, and has also said a number of times he has hearing problems with his left ear.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  May 25, 2018

            Maybe he persuaded himself that he heard it…

        • Gezza

           /  May 25, 2018

          No, not necessarily. Viewers watching on Telly hear what is coming through the microphone activated by someone in the control room at the time they are speaking Kitty. The Speaker can and does cut the microphone of a person speaking at times, when they have infringed, or continue to speak after being forbidden to, and, on rare occasions, a mic will be a microsecond or two late getting switched on in the control room so we can see a member begin to speak but miss a word or two until the audio is activated.

          The general hubub when it is rowdy can also drown out what the viewers hear because it comes through whatever microphone(s) are active. More often than not we don’t actually hear a remark that some background member is upbraided for, nor does the camera pan to show who the offender was.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  May 25, 2018

            I thought that this might have caused a sensation, though…if it happened at all.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  May 25, 2018

            I thought that this might have caused a sensation, though…if it happened at all.

            It’s odd that nobody else heard it.