Speaker’s Rulings — Retrospective Rulings

I missed a Speaker’s ruling from Parliament, thanks for pointing it out duperez. It adds to recent discussions here. In brief:

…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.

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.

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.

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.

So points of order are for dealing with compliance with Standing Orders as debate unfolds in the House. Raising issues about past decisions and clarifications need to be done in private with the Speaker.

Questioning rulings is forbidden – for good reason, if it was allowed it would enable endless bickering with the Speaker.

This was raised by ex-Speaker David Carter on Wednesday 6 November 2017.

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.

Mr SPEAKER: 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.

The Speaker came back to the House on this on Thursday.

Retrospective RulingsInterpretation 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.

Peters v The Speaker cont.

The ongoing spat between Winston Peters and Speaker David Carter has continued in Parliament this week, with Peters thrown out two days in a row. With him it’s hard to know if it is deliberate grandstanding, or if his frustration at the Speaker’s rulings or a lack of impact in the House is getting the better of him.

After yesterday’s ejection Peters said that Carter was a bully – perhaps that’s another attempt to try and tap into the populist issues of the day.

petersleavethehouse

Newshub: Parliament’s Speaker is a bully – Winston Peters

The first was for uttering the word “crap” – which he doesn’t think is that bad.

“Crap is not a swearword,” he said.

And he says the reason he was thrown out was because he thinks Speaker David Carter is bullying him.

“Don’t get up there and think you’re going to bully me out of my fundamental rights,” was his message to Mr Carter.

But…

…Mr Carter said the use of the word wasn’t the issue, it’s Mr Peters’ behaviour – and his second turfing of Mr Peters showcased it. 

“Whilst on my feet he actually yelled out for me to sit down while he wanted to speak. You cannot run Parliament with Members of Parliament showing that little respect for the Speaker.”

I’ve seen Peters getting petulant and trying to tell the Speaker what to do before.

And here’s the transcript:


Whānau Ora, Minister—Statements

9. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Does he stand by all his statements?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Whānau Ora): Āe, i te wā e kōrerohia ana.

[Yes, at the time it was being discussed.]

Darroch Ball: Does he stand by his answer on measures of effectiveness provided to justify the increase in funding to Whānau Ora, that “The increase in funding for Whānau Ora … was subject to a cost-benefit analysis consistent with other Budget 2016 social sector initiatives.”?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Āe.

Darroch Ball: How could he possibly use the cost-benefit analysis as justification for an increase in funding, when that cost-benefit analysis clearly states that the “benefits achieved through Whānau Ora are difficult to capture using cost-benefit analysis.”?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Arā anō ngā momo toronga o Whānau Ora.

[Whānau ora has other forms of extensions.]

Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can we confirm that there is a translation going on?

Mr SPEAKER: Certainly—[Interruption] Order! There is a translation, and it would be helpful if members listened to it.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: E tika ana kia whai ahau ā-Minita nei i tēnei kaupapa o te cost-benefit analysis. Kua eke a Whānau Ora ki tērā taumata, kāre he rere kētanga ki ētahi atu Tari Kāwanatanga. Ko taua āhua anō, ka whakamātauria ia tau, ia tau, ia tau.

[It is proper that I, as a Minister, follow due process in this matter about cost-benefit analysis. Whānau ora has achieved that standard; it is no different from any other Government department. It is that situation again, there is an annual audit each year.]

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This Minister was asked as to how he could make that statement, given that he had on record, from a Government department, a statement about the impossibility of a cost-benefit analysis in the way it was being put in his answer. He was asked how he could say that against that official information that he got, and he did not in any way try to answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the question was not as the member has now summarised it; it was somewhat different, and, as I listened to the answer, the answer addressed the question that was asked.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. So, just to clarify your ruling, are you saying that what I heard from the Minister was not what he said?

Mr SPEAKER: No, let me try to clarify for the benefit of the member. The question that the member, Winston Peters, suggested was asked was not exactly the same as Darroch Ball asked. I listened to what Darroch Ball asked, and I have ruled that the answer given by the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell has addressed that question. That is the end of the matter. There is not much point in continuing on.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, I helped draft this question, so I know what is in it.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! I have ruled that the question has been addressed. The member does not have to agree with that, but he has to accept it. We will move to further supplementary questions; otherwise I am quite happy to move to the next question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am certainly not going to entertain a further point of order from the Rt Hon Winston Peters contesting my ruling, and if he does so, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Point of order. Can I just—[Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I just want to be—[Interruption] Sit down. Resume your seat, please. I just want to be absolutely clear—[Interruption] Order! I want to be absolutely clear. I have given the member a warning that I am not prepared to tolerate him continuing to raise a point of order that is challenging a ruling I have just given. If the member wishes to seek a fresh point of order on a completely different matter, that is a right that he has, and I will listen to it, but if I—[Interruption] Order! If I detect for—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Oh, Mr Speaker, sit down and let me—[Interruption]—put my point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will leave the Chamber—[Interruption] The member will leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.

Key kicked out of Parliament

John Key was ordered to leave the Chamber today during question time. This is the first Prime Minister to be ordered out since the last one (Clark in 20o5).

Bill English said that he thought it was accidental and that key simply didn’t see the Speaker standing. Whether that’s true or not Key has been pushing boundaries and patience in Parliament lately.

3. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): My answer reads “yes”.

James Shaw: Does he stand by his statement in the House yesterday that charities including Greenpeace and Amnesty International are named in the Panama Papers as beneficiaries of foreign trusts?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think if the member checks the Hansard, you will see that I said “on the database”. They are in the database, and if you actually look at how this information is presented, you go to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. There is a single website link, and it says “Offshore leaks database”, and then it says: “Find out who’s behind almost 320,000 offshore companies and trusts from the Panama Papers and the Offshore Leaks Investigations.” Than you type in “Greenpeace” and it comes back with “Beneficiary of Exodus Trust”.

David Seymour: Can the Prime Minister recall answering a question from the Green Party about the environment?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think in 2008, when I became the Prime Minister, I got one, but since then it has been, you know, a little off radar.

James Shaw: When he made that statement yesterday, was he aware that those charities that he named were actually all found to have been victims of a scam where their names were used as a front by those seeking to use foreign trusts to avoid tax?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Absolutely not—absolutely not. But this is the point, is it not? This is the point—that so many New Zealanders are being implicated, and that member has been at the forefront of sullying the names of New Zealanders because they are in the database. So when Deborah Pead’s name was on TV last night, according to James Shaw, it is fine, but when it is his mate Greenpeace it is not fine. They are both in the database.

James Shaw: Does that not exactly prove the point that the problem that we have got is a regulatory regime that allows foreign trusts to be used for illegitimate purposes and that we need greater transparency and disclosure?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. No, it shows his lefty mates went and hacked into somebody’s website, put it up there, did not actually filter it out, and did not have the decency to protect everyday New Zealanders who might be implicated, and all of a sudden, when one of their mates is there, they do not like it. Well, actually, the truth is we do protect New Zealanders, and if the member had some decency about him, he would not have gone on the news on Saturday night and said I was responsible for the Cook Islands when he patently knows it is not true.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is just too much interjection occurring.

James Shaw: Can he tell the House why he chose to attack charities and my colleague Mojo Mathers rather than answer legitimate questions about the lack of disclosure in New Zealand’s foreign trust regulation?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Sadly, the problem with question time is—this is the way it works. The member asks the question, and if it is to the Prime Minister, I have to answer it. Yesterday the member asked me a question about foreign trusts, with all sorts of implications that they were bad, and lots of questions about the database—apparently, it you are on it, you are bad—and yet my simple point is this, to New Zealanders: next time you hear about this database, next time you hear about the Panama Papers, and next time you see James Shaw making these ridiculous assertions, just ask what is behind it. I am absolutely sure that the member is right: Greenpeace is unwittingly named as a beneficiary, but, nevertheless, it is in the database and it is a beneficiary of the Exodus Trust. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The specific member in the front row was the one I received the most complaints about by my emails yesterday. I will accept some interjection, but when it is continuous, I am going to have to deal with it.

James Shaw: Given that answer, why will he not apologise to Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and Mojo Mathers for misrepresenting them in the House yesterday?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have not misrepresented Greenpeace. It is in the database as a beneficiary of the Exodus Trust. I do not like the fact that it is there, but it is there, so in what way am I misrepresenting it? I think the member should do this. I think he should get on his feet and he should say: “John, on Saturday night”—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! The Prime Minister will leave the Chamber. When I stand to my feet—it happened yesterday; I gave him fair warning—and call for order, he is to be treated no differently from any other member in this House. The Prime Minister will leave the Chamber.

  • Rt Hon John Key withdrew from the Chamber.

WS v KB on Carter and London

Two curiously contrasting posts about whether David Carter was aiming for London and the High Commissioner’s job.

Stuff reported yesterday: Next London High Commissioner ‘not a politician’, says Government

…Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully confirmed a decision was close to being made.

“There are about 20 Head of Mission positions that are being filled at the moment, London is one of those.

“And we’re well down the track towards making those appointments. I can tell you that Mr Carter’s name has not featured anywhere in that list, including in relation to London,” he said.

“We have somebody in prospect for London, it’s not a member of Parliament.”

So an outright denial from McCully that Carter had featured in considerations and that the person they had lined up wasn’t a politician.

Carter was also quoted:

Carter said: “Despite persistent media speculation, it has never been my interest or intention to become New Zealand’s High Commissioner in London.”

But a post at Whale Oil under Cameron Slater’s name claimed David Carter is telling porkies:

Oh come on now. Even the Press Gallery know the veracity of this situation. Lockwood Smith’s tenure in the UK is under a cloud and is being carefully stage managed.

National have been going around offering all sorts of jobs to all sorts of people. I suspect Judith Collins was offered a “dignified” way out, and Maurice Williamson said “no” to life-after-being-an-MP as well. The ambassadorships to the US and the UK have been on offer since last year.

And Carter wants the one in London. He’s been provisionally told he’s got it.

It’s no coincidence that Winston has been winding Carter up and putting more and more pressure on.

Despite the claim that contradicted news reports that didn’t seem to raise much interest, it only attracted one comment.

Then this morning on Kiwiblog David Farrar posted Carter rules out London.

This quotes from NZH the same denial that Carter was in the reckoning, and Farrar adds:

Anyone who knows David Carter knows that he was not wanting to be the High Commissioner to the UK.

So that totally contradicts Slater’s assertions.

Farrar also quotes NZH…

In a speech to students at Victoria University yesterday, Mr Peters attacked the “brorocracy” of recent diplomatic appointments.

“As an example of how meritocracy has been abandoned in favour of a mainly white brorocracy look no further than how some of our high commissioners and ambassadors are being appointed.

…and comments:

The hypocrisy is high with this one.

Winston is the guy who lobbied Helen Clark insistently to make Owen Glenn the Honorary Consul to Monaco, after Glenn paid off his legal bills for him.

Hypocrisy and Peters are not strangers.

Next London High Commissioner ‘not a politician’

Following this morning’s post Political blackmail on diplomatic postings? there have been reports that the next High Comissioner in London won’t be a politician and the Speaker David Carter has had no interest in the position.

Stuff: Next London High Commissioner ‘not a politician’, says Government

Speaker David Carter is not in the running to become the next high commissioner to London, the Government has confirmed.

Carter had long been thought the frontrunner to replace current High Commissioner Sir Lockwood Smith in London, when Smith’s term ends early next year.

Earlier, Carter said: “Despite persistent media speculation, it has never been my interest or intention to become New Zealand’s High Commissioner in London.”

“I am honoured to be Speaker of the House of Representatives. I enjoy the role, and intend to carry on with that role as long as I have the confidence of the House.

That seems to rukle out that rumour.

…and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully confirmed a decision was close to being made.

“And we’re well down the track towards making those appointments. I can tell you that Mr Carter’s name has not featured anywhere in that list, including in relation to London,” he said.

“We have somebody in prospect for London, it’s not a member of Parliament.”

So what was Winston Peters up to? Stirring and digging to try and get a reaction perhaps. And perhaps the reaction wasn’t what he was expecting.

McCully said he was “slightly bemused” over Peters’ comments that certain diplomatic appointments had been suggested a “brorocracy”.

“Because I’m not quite sure who he’s talking about. I would have thought that former Prime Minister Mike Moore – technically a political appointment – but actually I think very much one that was in New Zealand’s interests to make.

“Tim Groser’s now in the same place – former chief trade negotiator for New Zealand, I can’t see what Mr Peters might take exception to there,” he said.

“It’s a free country, people can say what they want, and Winston normally does.”

And this could backfire on Peters as it has been been suggested he has been trying to manipulate coalition options well in advance of next year’s election.

Another possibility is that it’s Peters who has been played and sucked in on this as he is now seen to be declaring a hand that isn’t there to play.

Political blackmail on diplomatic postings?

Winston Peters has said he will block any diplomatic appointments that he deems to be political.

Is this through genuine concern about political appointments?

Or is it Peters playing politics as a part of his ongoing clash with Speaker David Carter, who has been suggested as a possible appointment of High Commissioner to London.

It is claimed that Peters has given an ultimatum to National that if he holds the balance of power after next year’s election he will block any diplomatic appointments he doesn’t like.

That sounds like political blackmail.

Stuff reports: Has Winston Peters scuppered David Carter’s chances of London High Commissioner post?

In a speech to students at Victoria University, Peters announced the party would block any “unsuitable” political appointees and require them to return home if it held the balance of power in government.

Behind-the-scenes jostling between National and NZ First may have dashed Speaker David Carter’s chances of a plumb diplomatic post to London.

Carter has long been thought the frontrunner to replace current High Commissioner to Britain Sir Lockwood Smith when his term ends early next year.

But it is understood NZ First is demanding that if in a position to get National across the line for a fourth term, then it would want Carter hauled back from the London posting should he have already gained it.

That would make it difficult for the Government to award him the posting in the first place.

Under current support levels National could potentially get backing for any appointments from Labour or the Greens.

But it sounds like Peters could go as far as make his approval of diplomatic appointments a condition of any coalition deal.

After the speech, Peters denied his remarks should be seen as an attack on Carter.

“Oh look ,we don’t personalise these things, I’m just saying that we’re not going to tolerate these sort of disgraceful appointments when they don’t merit it.”

He was not opposed to all political appointments, saying former Labour prime minister Mike Moore’s selection as United States ambassador was a “brilliant idea” but Wallace Rowling’s appointment to the same position in 1985 – after the flare-up over NZ’s nuclear weapons stance – was wrong.

“Now there’s two contrasting examples where people could be merited or the timing would merit things.”

This sounds like Peters wants to decide any diplomatic appointments. That’s dangerous tail wagging dog territory.

However, Prime Minister John Key said Peters’ claims about too many political appointments to diplomatic roles were “a load of nonsense”.

“I mean, of the 60-odd high commissions or embassies around the world, we have three or four that have been politically appointed in recent times.”

Which makes it sound like it could be a vendetta against Carter and that Peters would make a coalition agreement subject to his personal animosity against potentially one person.

Which party would want to negotiate a Governing arrangement on this basis?

Sources within the diplomatic community said NZ First had delivered the ultimatum, which could put the Government in a difficult position.

That’s if National didn’t just tell Peters to take a hike with his demands. Would they crumble to him?

Sources close to National had confirmed they had heard rumours of the bargaining, but asked last week, NZ First sources denied hearing of any such negotiations.

NZ First (and Peters in particular) vehemently deny any attempt to make pre-election agreements about possible coalition deals.

The only thing worse than Peters demanding the deciding vote on any diplomatic appointment and making any coalition deal subject to this would be National caving in to his petty political blackmail.

NZ First versus Parliament again

Parliament resumed today with Question Time and it didn’t take long for New Zealand First MPs to get offside with the Speaker and get thrown out, with Denis O’Rourke being ejected early during Question 8.

Denis O’Rourke: In addition to the four options in the KiwiRail commercial review for 2014—the trimmed network, the separate islands network, the upper North Island network, and exit—will he request consideration of an expansion and improvement option for the whole country; if not, why not?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: The member may not like the fact, but we have invested nearly $4 billion. That is comparable to what we have invested in the roads of national significance, which he and his mates next to him—the Greens—love to hate so much. We are investing, and we continue to do so with projects that stack up.

Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically asked whether the Minister would—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question was so long, it would be very easy for the member to address any part of it. If the member asks a short, sharp question, I can help him get a straight answer. Supplementary question?

Denis O’Rourke: The question was not long—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat immediately. I have ruled. I am giving the member a chance to complete his questioning; if he does not want to, we can easily move to the next one.

Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If it is a fresh point of order, I will hear it. If it is any attempt to relitigate where I have just got to, I will be asking the member to leave.

Denis O’Rourke: I am simply asking: if that question was too long—

Mr SPEAKER: I have dealt with that matter. I am asking Denis O’Rourke to—[Interruption] Denis O’Rourke will leave the Chamber. I gave him an absolute, clear warning. [Interruption] Order! The member will leave.

Denis O’Rourke withdrew from the Chamber.

Whether O’Rourke was hard done by or not by the initial ruling he ignored the Speaker’s ruling and subsequent warning fairly blatantly.

Then followed  leader Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My colleague asked the question: if it was too long, then how would you have phrased it yourself? Now, can I just finish my point of order. I have barely spoken a few words—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member can raise a point of order in line with the Standing Orders and I will hear it, but he had better do it succinctly.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That is precisely what I am doing. My colleague asked the question—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order—[Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat immediately. This is a point of order, and I want to hear it without any interjection from my right-hand side.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: My colleague asked: if the question was too long, then how would you have phrased it? I think that he was seeking some clarity, because if the question was too long, you would have ruled it out at the very start when he finished asking the question. That is why my colleague was a bit—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I have been relatively lenient in light of the way the—[Interruption] Order! The member is very likely to be leaving the Chamber and joining his colleague. I have been relatively lenient with questions coming from New Zealand First today, but when those members ask a—[Interruption] Order! If the member interjects again while I am on my feet, he will be asked to leave. I have been relatively lenient, but when a question is as long as that, it is very difficult for me to actually decipher the specifics of the question, and, therefore, I ruled that the Minister had addressed the question. Mr O’Rourke took exception to that. I warned him that if he continued to relitigate a decision I had made, then he would be asked to leave the Chamber. He did then immediately relitigate the ruling I made.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If it is a fresh point of order—[Interruption] Order! No, the member will also resume his seat. I have ruled on that matter. The member is going to raise a fresh point of order, but if I consider in any way that it is an attempt to relitigate the decision I have just made, which the member does not have to like but must accept, I will not hesitate to ask the member also to leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: First of all, it is a fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: What is it?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That is why I am raising it. It arises from your comment that you have been lenient on New Zealand First in question time today. As a matter of clarification, could you point out on what occasions and at what time have you been lenient on us?

Mr SPEAKER: That is, effectively, an allegation of bias, and that is a contempt of this House. The Rt Hon Winston Peters will also leave the Chamber. [Interruption] The Rt Hon Winston Peters will immediately leave this Chamber. [Interruption] Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.

David Carter is really struggling to maintain order in the House, and NZ First MPs seem to be intent on making it as hard as possible for him.

Both Speaker and NZ First should work out a way of dealing with this and moving on – if either wants to sort things out.

COntinued aggravation and increasingly open defiance may be seeking attention deliberately but the attention it gives the dysfunctionality of the House provides quite a sad view of Parliament.

Carter is not the strongest of speakers but winding him up and ignoring his warnings is hardly going to achieve much that’s any good for our democratic process.

c

Two strikes for Peters

The Speaker ejected Winston Peters from Parliament yesterday:

9. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If he stands by his statement that his Government “has been leading the charge on really expanding the use of the gold card and the opportunity and advantages”, why has his Government capped the SuperGold card travel cost?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, I stand by that statement, and I am delighted that that senior member got the opportunity to use his SuperGold card on the Pētone to Wellington route this morning.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Two matters. One is that that is not an answer to my question about the capping of the travel cost. Second, I did not use any gold card this morning. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Mr Brownlee! The problem with the member’s question was that there were two questions in his supplementary question. The Prime Minister chose to answer one of them.

Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I accept your ruling, Mr Speaker, that the Prime Minister is required to answer only one of two questions, but that does not mean to say that he can answer a third that was not asked. That was out of order and it should be you, Mr Speaker, who stops the Prime Minister from doing that.

Mr SPEAKER: I did not hear anything that I thought was out of order from the Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A question that asks if he stands by his statement why has something happened is not two questions; it is just one.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have ruled it was two questions.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, you are wrong.

Mr SPEAKER: Well then the member will stand and withdraw that comment immediately or else leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise. Point of order. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have ruled on that matter. If the member wishes to raise a fresh point of order, I am very happy to hear it. But if in any way I consider we are just going over old ground and relitigating where we have been, then I will have no hesitation in asking that member to leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not going to let down the education system of this country by have you making it up as you go along. I would rather leave the House than do that.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member is welcome, then, to leave the House. [Interruption] The member will leave the Chamber.

  • Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.

Peters knows very well what is acceptable and what isn’t, it looks like he deliberately baited the Speaker in order to get sent from the house.

Ron Mark took over and appeared to have questions prepared and also appeared to be deliberately pushing boundaries:

Ron Mark: If his Government is leading the charge to help seniors who have contributed to New Zealand all of their working lives, why cap funding on free travel to SuperGold cardholders and force ratepayers to top up the shortfall—why?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: For a start off, I think it is important to have a few of the facts, which are, firstly, that when we came into office SuperGold card funding was $18 million, approximately; now it is $28 million. There were about 800 businesses using it; now there are over 8,000. The entitlements do not change. Yes, we are going to be driving better value for money for the providers that do that, but I think that is sensible. There is a review in 2018-19, and if the Rt Hon Winston Peters did not use his SuperGold card this morning on the train, why the hell did he have a SuperGold card photo-op?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The last part now will not help the order of this House. Supplementary question—Ron Mark.

Ron Mark: I will not ask why that was a pathetic answer.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I just have the supplementary question.

Ron Mark: Yes, it is coming. If the Government—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Ron Mark.

Ron Mark: Thank you, Mr Speaker. If the Government cannot afford the free travel benefits of the SuperGold card, how can it afford to give full superannuation benefits to over 82,000 immigrants who have come here and acquired superannuation after 10 years, how can it afford to fund their free health care, and how can he afford to give tax cuts to his wealthy mates?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There were a number of questions there. The last part is certainly not to be addressed in the answer; it is out of order.

Today Peters appeared to have little intention of playing by the rules.

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does he stand by his statement about New Zealand’s tax haven status, that it is “not an embarrassment” and that “the Government will not change any tax rules until the IRD has looked at the issue.”, given the same man—

Hon Steven Joyce: Is this a question?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: You are getting it, sunshine. You just wait.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just complete the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: —who found there was nothing to see about the wine box, namely John Nash, is again in charge of looking at the rules?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: New Zealand does not have “tax haven status”. Much as the member might want that to be the case, it simply is not. If he is worried about who is looking at the rules, the OECD is apparently going to review our rules again next year, and I expect it will give a somewhat similar opinion as it did last time, which is that our rules—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am asking this Minister why John Nash is the person looking at the rules. I do not want to hear about anybody else, just why John Nash is being relied upon.

Mr SPEAKER: That should well have been the supplementary question, and I could have helped the member, but that was not the supplementary question. It was a very lengthy supplementary question that gave the Minister more opportunity to answer and address the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is John Nash, the Inland Revenue Department’s (IRD) international revenue strategy manager, the same John Nash who admitted in the 1995 commission of inquiry that the IRD did not begin a serious examination of key wine-box transactions until one month after a Minister had assured this House that it had?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no idea.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How much confidence does he have in John Nash’s leading an inquiry by IRD into New Zealand’s involvement in the foreign trusts, when he never understood the wine-box fraud on the revenue and is now being put up as an expert, saying there is no fraud in the Panama Papers transactions in New Zealand; why would you trust that man?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The IRD is a statutorily independent entity. Whatever officials it uses is really its business. But the member can be assured that there are no parallels between the foreign trusts and the Cook Islands thing that he is referring to. In this case, the concerns about tax avoidance are concerns held by the Mexican Government and the Maltese Government, not by the New Zealand Government. There is no suggestion that these trusts are used to erode New Zealand’s tax base, because we cannot tax these people.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why on earth is the IRD putting up John Nash as some sort of an authority that New Zealand is “a model citizen in respect of trusts and that of the nearly 12,000 trusts that have been scrutinised, few problems have been found” when his proven lack of expertise is why so many now, internationally, including the economists, think that we are a tax haven?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is unfortunate that the member is resorting to some of his old habits of attacking public servants in a very personal way under the protection of Parliament. I doubt very much that it will influence the expertise or the focus of the IRD in dealing with any relevant issues with respect to these trusts. But I must stress to the member, because he is giving the misleading impression that, somehow, this discussion about foreign trusts is to do with New Zealand taxes and what people pay here—it is not. It is nothing to do with the New Zealand tax base, which is among the most comprehensive and best organised in the developed world.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, Minister, when the growing scandal is about our being a tax haven, is he seeking to use every other detour or road block to not answer the question?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We are not a tax haven. It is really only the Opposition parties in New Zealand that are claiming that. And, secondly, if the member does not understand or respect the constitutional position of the IRD as independent from politicians, then he represents a real danger to future governance in New Zealand, because if he believes the Government should be fingering individual officials on the basis of what the Opposition thinks about them, then this Government has more integrity and principle than that, and will not do it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Seeing as he has put the issue of integrity on the table and the Prime Minister has said that the IRD has informed the Aussie authorities—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I have the supplementary question please.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, you are getting it!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. He will stand and apologise for that remark. I want him to ask supplementary questions in line with the Standing Orders.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member will stand—[Interruption] Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am apologising.

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest of respect, I have been here longer than you, and I know how to ask a question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will leave the Chamber.

  • Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.

And again Rob Mark followed up:

Ron Mark: When the Australian banks are so donkey deep in Panama Papers, appearing 8,948 times, did the IRD share all of those appearances with the Australian tax authorities, and has this Government been aware of that?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Hon Bill English, on behalf of the Prime Minister, either of those two—does the member want the question again?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: A charitable description of that would be that the question was unclear. I am sure that the IRD has met its obligations to any other Government, because, ultimately, this issue is about other Governments’ policing of their tax partners. If they ask anything of the New Zealand Government and the IRD for cooperation, then my understanding is that the IRD provides them with information.

It’s hard to know what Peters and Mark are trying to achieve with this. Key and English easily batted away their questioning, they failed to make any substantial points and they can hardly claim any gains by being thrown out of the Chamber.

Key and Little apologise

Curiously both John Key and Andrew Little offered apologies in Parliament today. Was it a coincidence?

NZ Herald reports: John Key apologises for ‘backing rapists’ comment

A long-sought apology from the Prime Minister and a dramatic security breach by protesters has marked the final day of Parliament for the year.

John Key had earlier apologised for and withdrew controversial comments he made last month during a debate on Kiwi detainees at Christmas Island.

The Prime Minister had previously refused to apologise for saying the Opposition was “backing the rapists”, as well as murderers and child molesters.

“I have reflected on my comments, and on this last sitting day of the year, so close to Christmas, I’d like to withdraw and apologise for that response,” Mr Key said today, to applause.

I think it’s good that Key has apologised for those comments. You can argue all you like whether they were over the top or not but they didn’t look good to many people and werer a bad look/listen for Parliament.

No harm was done by him apologising.

And Little:

After Mr Key’s apology, Labour leader Andrew Little announced that the party had today written to the privileges committee to say that comments made by some Labour MPs were unparliamentary, and expressing regret for them.

“All of which demonstrates that this House is capable of acting, if not in the spirit of Christmas, in the spirit of the bloody Red Baron.”

Speaker David Carter thanked Mr Little sincerely.

Hopefully Little and Labour can come back next year with a new approach to Question Time, and focus more at being an effective Opposition whose focus is to hold the Government to account rather than petty underprepared posturing and blaming the Speaker for their ineffectiveness.

And perhaps a in a fresh start next year David Carter can be more insistent that questions are answered adequately.

Crush the Speaker?

Parliament has been degenerating into a bigger shambles than usual with long simmering Opposition disgruntlement threatening to boil over.

The Speaker has been under increased criticism. It’s an unenviable position, with David Carter struggling to keep the House under control.

He’s not the strongest of Speakers but he is also bearing the brunt of Opposition parties failing to make much impact.

Rather than up their own performances a few Opposition MPs would appear to be keen on crushing the Speaker.

Rather than look at their own incompetence they have increasingly taken to blaming the referee.

In MPs playing for yellow card Stacey Kirk suggests Carter may be moved on soon anyway…

But then what more exacting cue for an exit stage-left, with speculation pointing to a plum diplomatic posting for him – perhaps London or Ottawa – at the next Government reshuffle

…and explores the alternatives.

Maurice Williamson

Ask around Parliament and many would say Maurice Williamson would be a sound, and potentially hilarious, choice as Carter’s successor (which is likely why John Key won’t pick him).

A position best served to a senior politician on a downward trajectory – Williamson ticks that box.

Most importantly, his appointment could bring a return to what opposition MPs deem fundamental to Question Time: Ministers may actually be expected to answer questions.

A change of Opposition attitude and asking better questions might also help.

Gerry Brownlee

Perhaps it’s for that very reason Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee appears to be the front-runner, raising fears about what that might mean for political journalists.

He displays an obvious and growing disdain for the Press Gallery, overheard once lamenting how “bloody young” they are, and is a regular complainer about their actions in the corridors of power.

The Speaker’s job is to facilitate debate inb the house though. It’s the MPs job to feed the journalists with stories.

Other names murmured as outside chances include Anne Tolley and Jonathan Coleman. Both seem unlikely.

Anne Tolley

Tolley is determined to oversee massive reform of Child, Youth and Family, which has barely begun.

Jonathan Coleman

Coleman is hardly in the twilight of his career.

In fact, his name has also been thrown in conversations discussing the next Minister for Foreign Affairs. That at least makes more sense than Speaker, him already having proven himself in the understudy role of Defence Minister.

But the doctor appears to have hit his stride in Health and, while ambitious, Foreign Affairs is a tough ask for anyone with a young family.

Any other candidates for a new Speaker?

What about Judith Collins? In practical term she is probably in the twilight of her career, although I don’t know if she’s ready to accept that yet or not.

Crush the Speaker?