Parliamentary services on MP emails

The Speaker gave a response from parliamentary Services regarding filtering of emails after a complaint from Chris Hipkins yesterday.

Parliamentary Service—Email Security Facility

Mr SPEAKER: Honourable members, yesterday Chris Hipkins raised in the House the blocking of an email he wished to send to a journalist. I undertook to look into the matter and come back to the House. The secure, encrypted email system known as SEEMail exists primarily to encrypt emails exchanged between State sector organisations. SEEMail also prevents classified information being inadvertently sent outside of participating organisations. SEEMail has been in use in Parliament since 2007.

Mail filters look for the words “SEEMail”, “restricted”, “sensitive”, or “in-confidence”, which are attached to emails and documents at the choice of the sender. It then applies encryption to the email and attachments before sending them. It does not otherwise scan or store the content of emails. I have been given an absolute assurance that the Parliamentary Service email system does not scan members’ emails other than for spam filtering, viruses, and SEEMail classifications.

SEEMail is primarily used by Ministers and their departments who need secure, encrypted communication, but it currently applies to everyone with a email address. It blocks any email with a SEEMail security classification being sent to someone without that classification. The concern raised yesterday was that SEEMail’s system could hinder a member from carrying out his or her duties.

Members must be free to send and receive information as they see fit. No other agency should be involved in determining how members deal with the information they hold. That approach is consistent with the findings of the Privileges Committee when it reported on the use of intrusive powers within the parliamentary precinct.

Equally, it is important that members are able to communicate securely, safe from external cyber threats. I have identified five possible solutions to the conflict between information security and the undoubted right of members to freely use information:

(1) a member may remove the SEEMail classification from an email or document they have received. This can then be sent anywhere the member wishes. Although this would have solved Mr Hipkins’ immediate problem, it does not address the wider issue.

(2) Ministers could instruct departments not to apply SEEMail security to information being sent to members who are not Ministers. Official Information Act responses should never be so classified in the first place.

(3) If members are not satisfied with these two solutions, Ministers could be given a separate email domain so that email as SEEMail applied only to them. That would require further discussion.

(4) Parliament could opt out of the system entirely; however, that carries with it considerable cyber-security risk.

A fifth possible solution, which does require further testing, is for SEEMail to be applied only to communications with participating SEEMail organisations, then members’ emails to journalists and the public would be sent freely and without scanning or encryption.

The matter is a fairly complex one and it cannot be resolved today on the floor of the House. It is, however, essential that it is resolved to the satisfaction of members, and that their ability to send and receive information is not in any way hindered. I will distribute this ruling to all members immediately. I intend to discuss it further with the Parliamentary Service Commission at its next meeting, and I would welcome representation from any members who wish to discuss this matter with me.


CHRIS HIPKINS (Senior Whip—Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand your desire to discuss this further and we will certainly take you up on that offer. Can I seek some reassurance from you that in the intervening period, while those discussions are taking place, members will not continue to be blocked from sending emails outside the system?

The issue I rose yesterday when discussing the very ruling that you have just made, with a journalist, the email that I was discussing the matter in was blocked from the journalist whom I was discussing it with.

So I was unable to answer any questions about the matter that rose yesterday because the system picked that up and blocked me from doing so. I had to print the email and hand-deliver it, in order for the journalist to be able to receive it. That is unacceptable, and I want some reassurance that in the intervening period that will be stopped.

Mr SPEAKER: If the member would just have a careful look at the ruling, the very first solution I give to him is that he himself can remove the classification. He may need some assistance to be shown how to do it, and that can be provided, but he himself can remove that classification—I am assured—and send it out.

CHRIS HIPKINS (Senior Whip—Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If it is a further point on this matter, I have said that this is a complex matter. It is not one affecting the order of the House. I will hear from the member, but I would prefer discussion on this to take place away from the floor of the House so that all members can understand it more clearly.

CHRIS HIPKINS: As was explained to me, any email containing the words “SEEMail” and “sensitive” will be blocked, so any discussion of the ruling that you have just made will, therefore, be blocked. We will not be able to do that via email.

Mr SPEAKER: No. I will have an IT person contact the member immediately after question time. [Interruption] Order! This is a serious matter. My understanding is that while it is blocked, unless the member makes an adjustment to his computer setting and takes the blockage out—[Interruption]—by removing the word “SEEMail”, then he can send it to the journalist of his choice.

See Hipkins overreacts to email blocking

‘Govt cowardly on euthanasia’

Not just the Government – some opposition MPs and parties could be seen as unwilling to address an important issue for many people too.

A lead item on Stuff:

‘Govt cowardly on euthanasia’

John Key supports euthanasia but he won’t make it a Government bill – is it time for a rethink?

The actual article headline is less provocative:

Lecretia Seales lives on in a health inquiry into euthanasia that kicks off this week

A petition was handed to MPs at Parliament, which sparked an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia.

Wellington was home for Matt Vickers for a long time – it’s also where his love and memories of his late wife Lecretia Seales live on.

Seales died from in June last year after a long battle with cancer that ran hand-in-hand with a courageous fight to win the right to choose to end her own life. Hours before she took her last breath she learned her legal battle had failed.

On Wednesday Vickers will be the first of 1800 people to speak to a parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia, instigated by a petition in the name of former Labour MP Maryan Street and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

The petition, which garnered 8795 signatures and cross-party support, came in the wake of Seales death.

It demanded the committee examine public opinion on the introduction of legislation “which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable”.

More than 21,000 submissions later – the most ever received by any select committee – Vickers will pull up a seat at 8am in front of a panel of MPs to explain Lecretia’s story.

“Lecretia was very strong in wanting a choice, that wasn’t a weakness of character. She wanted to be able to exercise her strength by having a choice,” he said.

The submission process is an opportunity for the country to “honestly and unashamedly talk about the end of our lives without fear”.

The problem is that generally MPs and parties don’t want to be associated with discussing euthanasia despite strong public support for change.

And the chair of the Parliamentary committee has caused some concern.

While in Wellington Vickers will also launch his book, Lecretia’s Choice, and already one member of the select committee intends to read it – chair and National MP Simon O’Connor.

The Tamaki MP is Catholic and spent almost a decade studying for the priesthood with the Society of Mary before deciding he couldn’t be a politico and a cleric.

Vickers, much like Street and Seymour, is concerned about O’Connor chairing the committee – all three question how someone publicly opposed to euthanasia can chair an inquiry into it.

But some MPs from different parties are promoting the discussion.

National MP Chris Bishop stood alongside Seymour, Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway and Green MP Kevin Hague when Parliament received Street’s petition in June.

Bishop supports the inquiry and Seymour’s bill and says while O’Connor chairs the committee, “he’s not doing the whole inquiry – he’s only one person”.

Seymour says O’Connor should apologise before oral submissions kick off on Wednesday for “soliciting submissions from a certain point of view which happens to coincide with his own beliefs”.

“If you look at the way Simon’s behaved you’ve got to be pretty concerned … it’s really quite shameful given you get paid an extra $20,000 to be a chair.”

“He’s got every incentive, he’s an ambitious guy like most people in Parliament, and if he wants to be a minister one day then he has to actually play a straight bat and be seen to play a straight bat.”

Seymour versus National:

Even Prime Minister John Key supports euthanasia and Seymour’s bill and said the select committee inquiry is proof “it’s quite possible without a bill being in Parliament to have a good and open discussion about the issue”.

The Government has no intention of picking up Seymour’s bill but Key says “at some point it’s bound to be drawn”.

According to Seymour, every Government is reluctant to pick up controversial issues and this National government isn’t alone – homosexual law reform, abortion law and marriage equality also came out of members’ bills.

“All governments have been cowardly on controversial issues, not just this one.”

And some opposition parties. ‘Not a priority’ is a cop out.

He also blames several senior Ministers in Cabinet being strongly opposed to euthanasia for blocking it.

He wants a public conversation that does some myth-busting.

I hope the committee listens well and does this inquiry justice.

I strongly believe that with adequate legal protections freedom of choice for individuals who are dying should be paramount – and certainly choices about our own lives should not be illegal.


Intelligence and Security legislation

The Government is introducing a bill to Parliament this week as a result of the review done by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.

I think this is potentially a good move, as long as they get the right balance between improved security, improved transparency, and protection of privacy for the vast majority of New Zealanders who are not a threat.

Intelligence and Security legislation introduced

Prime Minister John Key today introduced a bill to update the legislative framework and improve the transparency of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies.

The New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill 2016 is the Government’s response to the first independent review of intelligence and security presented to Parliament in March 2016 by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.

“At the heart of this Bill is the protection of New Zealanders,” says Mr Key. “We have an obligation to ensure New Zealanders are safe at home and abroad.

“Therefore it is vital our agencies operate under legislation which enables them to be effective in an increasingly complex security environment, where we are confronted by growing numbers of cyber threats and the rise of terrorist groups such as ISIL.

Mr Key says the Government has accepted the majority of recommendations put forward in Sir Michael and Dame Patsy’s independent review.

“The bill is the most significant reform of the agencies’ legislation in our country’s history,” says Mr Key.

“It clearly sets out the agencies’ powers, builds on the robust oversight for the agencies we introduced in 2013 and establishes a new warranting regime.

“At the same time, it protects the privacy and human rights of New Zealanders.”

Key aspects of the legislation include:

  • Creating a single Act to cover the agencies, replacing the four separate acts which currently exist.
  • Introducing a new warranting framework for intelligence collection, including a ‘triple lock’ protection for any warrant involving a New Zealander.
  • Enabling more effective cooperation between the NZSIS and GCSB.
  • Improving the oversight of NZSIS and GCSB by strengthening the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and expanding parliamentary oversight.
  • Bringing the NZSIS and GCSB further into the core public service, increasing accountability and transparency.

“As I have said before, we are keen to get broad political support for this legislation,” says Mr Key.

“The Government takes its national security obligations very seriously. New Zealanders can be assured we are taking careful and responsible steps to protect their safety and security.”

The Bill has been introduced today. The first reading will be on Thursday.

For more information visit

A United States parliament?


US Parliamentary Pie:


Labour mis-using taxpayer money?

First a word of caution. This apparent bust comes from the Taxpayers’ Union, who say they are funded and run independently but those involved in running it have close links to National.

They have put out a media release today claiming that Labour appear to be running the campaign for Labour mayoral candidate in Wellington out of their Parliamentary offices. Non-parliamentary activities and electioneering are forbidden uses of parliamentary funded resources.

The Taxpayer’s Union say they have been leaked this email:


That suggests that “we” from the Labour’s Party Whips office have produced a campaign video for “our Labour candidate for the Wellington Mayoralty”. It is a least a bad look, and it may breach Parliaments rules.

Labour were warned about misuse of Parliamentary resources earlier this year. The Taxpayers’ Union was also involved there. From Speaker’s Warning To Labour Over Parliamentary Funds:

Some weeks ago Labour sent an email in the name of Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened a Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

The email also called on “like-minded partners” to share office space and other facility resources.

It appears that Andrew Little and his MPs are pooling together taxpayer resources to open a campaign office in central Auckland for the Party and Phil Goff’s campaign for the Auckland mayoralty. Use of taxpayer resources in this way is clearly against the rules.

The Speaker has confirmed that the Parliamentary Service will be monitoring Mr Little’s spending and has written to him setting out the rules for taxpayer funded out-of-Parliament offices.

The letter from the Speaker to Labour begins:


And concludes:


That is a very clear warning to Andrew Little. Labour should be well aware of these rules anyway.

MPs campaigning for local body office while paid for by taxpayers is suspect, although it has both potential benefits and disadvantages.

Not surprisingly David Farrar has also posted on this, fairly carefully, at Kiwiblog: Lester’s campaign being run from Parliament?  Farrar is heavily involved with the Taxpayers’ Union.

But regardless of the source this does look quite dodgy from Labour, especially after already being warned by the Speaker.

Given there past actions I presume the Taxpayers’ Union will advise the Speaker about this, but don’t expect significant repercussions – that’s why parties keep flouting Parliamentary rules, because they think they can keep getting away with it.

But this is not just flouting Parliamentary rules. It is flouting democracy, giving some candidates an unfair advantage over others.

Now I don’t know if this refers to the same Lester campaign video:

Wellington mayoral candidates get creative and cringeworthy with online campaign videos

Wellington’s mayoral candidates have taken to social media, releasing online campaign videos to sell their message to voters.

Labour candidate and current deputy mayor Justin Lester takes an active approach attending various community events and has citizens endorse him. Robinson says Justin ticks nearly every box with his video.

“He shows that he is embedded in communities, in a variety of communities and people trust him and people endorse him. While people are talking about him he’s actively engaged in a whole variety of environments.

“You can’t fault this video I would have to say in my 17 years of campaign video watching this is the best campaign video any NZ candidate has ever produced.”

Claire Robinson believes anybody running in an election should follow the lead of Wellington’s candidates and campaigns will continue to evolve with technology.

I don’t know what Robinson would think if Parliamentary resources were used to make the video.

A recess challenge for Labour

MPs of all parties have given themselves a longer than usual mid-winter recess of four weeks. Lucky them (but MPs make their own luck when they can).

Tracey Watkins makes a challenge to Labour for the recess period – get tough, or it will look like they have given up on next year’s election already.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Here’s a challenge to Labour. If it wants to show it’s serious about winning the next election, its MPs should use the upcoming four week recess to catch their opponents napping.

If Labour MPs disappear over that period instead we’ll know they’ve already given up on a win in 2017.

There’s already signs that Labour MPs are going through the motions most of the time, with Phil Twyford a rare exception. Even Andrew Little’s barking at passing cars seems to be losing it’s bite.

Next month’s lengthy recess is the talk of Parliament. No one can remember a mid-year break quite this long before. It starts July 8 and carries right through to August 9, when MPs return to Parliament.

The word is that members of Parliament’s business committee – which comprises every party – all agreed on the lengthy break because it would help MPs recharge their batteries.

Some of them would need a wind farm much larger than Parliament to recharge their batteries.

But did the Opposition get the wool pulled over its eyes?

Because Oppositions tend to lose momentum when Parliament goes into recess. And mid-year through a Government’s third term is often when that momentum starts to build.

In fact Ministers and especially the Prime Minister will have to keep working to an extent at least. I month is too long to be opff the job mid-year. The recess will be more for back benchers and Opposition MPs, which will allow Ministers to chug away without being hassled.

As the normally affable minister looks increasingly strained and tight-lipped you can already see the drawbridge going up.

That’s a classic sign of third term-itis but National has dug itself out of these holes before by methods which are now well practiced. It burns the midnight oil, it wheels out policies and speeches, it reheats old news, anything to seize back the initiative. It’s the rugby team that runs on to the field determined to dominate on offence.

But there is a four week recess coming up. Beehive staff will have planned a break. Some of the key ministers will likely be overseas.

Potentially, it’s a political vacuum. A hungry Opposition would try to fill it.

So will it?

Twyford may keep banging away on phantom house doors and Little may do a little barking, and the Greens may take turns at churning out their PR, but will any MPs do some hard yards to put pressure on the Government?

Or better, show some leadership potential and come up with some positive actions or policies. Drive and initiative may get some media attention in a vacuum.

It’s about time that James Shaw stepped up and started living up to the hype that preceded him becoming Greens new co-leader last year.

It will be particularly interesting to see how Winston Peters treats the recess. It’s been a big term for him so far and he has looked jaded in Parliament.

Will he disappear for some rest, or will he do a tour of the country’s rest homes charming some ‘mature’ votes.

Most voters will probably be happy to see and hear less of politics and politicians anyway.

An MP that works out how to use the recess to interest the masses could do well for themselves and their party. But banging on the bashwagon turns voters off big time.

Will anyone step up and look like a positive prospective leader? That’s something that is sadly lacking across our modern politics.

UPDATE: I’ve just realised I drifted off the topic – a recess challenge for Labour. Perhaps I’ve given up on them as well as them having given up unless a resurrection lands in their laps.

Why MPs behave poorly in Parliament

One of the primary reasons why MPs behave poorly in Parliament is because political journalists feed the frenzy by giving the worst of parliament the most attention.

Claire Trevett illustrates this in Pokes and jokes hit and miss but Winston Peters still the master.

Peters may be the master of attention seeking but that doesn’t make it a healthy environment for democracy.

On Key:

To celebrate the occasion and the rare display of Black Caps sledging Australians, Key dedicated much of his speech at the start of Parliament to sledging his own opponents.

On Little:

Little was not bereft of comebacks. He welcomed back Michael Woodhouse – the overseer of health and safety reforms which listed worm farms as dangerous: “I am pleased that we have got through a summer with not a single worm farmer suffering a fatality or serious accident.”

He congratulated newly restored minister Judith Collins for making such a difference in such a short time, noting New Zealand had slipped two places in the corruption index in the two months she had been back.

On Shaw:

But then came poor old James Shaw, the newly minted Green Party co-leader. His caucus was not so well trained at laughing as National and Labour.

His valiant efforts met with a wall of silence.

The circus only rewards clowns.

Nobody was quite sure what he was banging on about, but happily the novice was followed by the master: NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Peters took his usual scatter gun approach to his targets, depending who heckled him.

The sensible leadership over Waitangi events has disappeared in Parliament.

Finally Seymour set about insisting closure of a charter school in Whangaruru was proof the schools worked.

It was all as incomprehensible as circling the desert of the real.

The most respectful and sensible speaker didn’t rate a mention – Peter Dunne. He began by paying a tribute to the late Rt Hon Bob Tizard. He acknowledged Annette King respectfully. And he closed with a welcome back to all members, with a special mention to new MP Maureen Pugh.

But that sort of thing doesn’t rate a mention. We have headline driven political coverage, which grotesquely distorts our democracy.

WHOOPS: And I forgot to mention Te Ururoa Flavell, who flies under the media radar because he’s one of the best behaved and respectful MPs in Parliament.

Straddling the political divide

Some see politics as a big division between one thing or another but in reality there’s far more fairly common ground than there are extreme differences.

But today the ODT chose to call their editorial Straddling the political divide, looking ahead to the year in Parliament kicking off. However i think what they are referring to is more of a divide between what the public would like to see of their Members of Parliament and how those MPs present themselves in Parliament.

Parliament resumes tomorrow with the Prime Minister’s statement taking precedence over other business.

While official business takes centre stage tomorrow, the political year started earlier with the State of the Nation speeches by political leaders.

Mr Key can take all the time he needs as his statement has no limit in length. The debate in reply has a limit of 14 hours but the Government can, if it chooses, and it probably will, adjourn the debate and get on with other business. The year needs to start strongly.

The debate in reply begins with the Leader of the Opposition moving a no-confidence vote in the Government and moves on from there into the Opposition parties trying to score some political points against the Government in general and Mr Key in particular.

Mr Key has been untouchable for seven years and will point to the achievements of his Government as he outlines parliamentary priorities for the year ahead. In the past, Mr Key has deviated from his set speech to get a march on the Opposition, which has an advance copy of his address.

Tomorrow can really be the time for Mr Key to put aside the political agenda of trying to make his opponents look silly and provide some uplifting goals to which he aspires.

The Opposition can use their time to avoid making personal attacks and focus on providing some alternatives to what it sees as damaging policies.

All of this seems sadly unlikely and New Zealanders will again be left frustrated on the sides of the political divide.

As I said at the start, I think one of biggest divides in New Zealand politics is  not left versus right (the main parties are often called National Lite and Labour Lite) but a divide between how our Members of Parliament behave in Parliament and how the public would like them to behave.

Robust debate with opponents and challenging policies are very important aspects of a democracy.

But far too often our politicians resort to petty attacking and opposing for the sake of opposing rather than based on common sense.

The tone of our politics and of Parliament must be set from the top, by the party leaders. When did we last have a leader who led by example?

John Key has been a very successful leader but I don’t think he has yet been a great leader. He often tries to be a person of the people, quite successfully going by the polls but that’s probably as much to do with a lack of strong opponents.

Andrew Little is yet to step up as a credible leader.

The party leader I’ve been most impressed with over the annual Waitangi debacle is Winston Peters, who spoke honestly about the core of the problems. Perhaps the wily old campaigner can rise above his usually futile game playing and end his career on a respectable high.

Is Key capable of providing ‘some uplifting goals”?

Or will he continue to massage the masses with meanderings, policy-wise?

Likeable (to half the population) but with modest achievements who eventual fades away? Or can he become a leader of our times? If he aspires to the latter he will need to do more than just wave a flag.

Can Key find a way of straddling the divide between successful politician and aspirational leader? Does he want to?

Euthanasia submissions due 1 February

Today’s Herald on Sunday editorial focusses on Lecretia Seales and euthanasia, and it points out that Health select committee public submissions on euthanasia close in a week.

New Zealanders have just a week left to voice their opinions on voluntary euthanasia and whether it should be considered under law.

It is not an easy subject. The very term we use to understand the process is altered – and sometimes manipulated – to serve a purpose. Euthanasia, assisted dying, suicide.

It is one of the most difficult questions of our age but one that needs to be asked and considered.

Public feedback to Parliament’s health select committee closes on February 1. In a little over a week, the chance to have a say will be gone.

Regardless of the opinion – or the outcome – it would be to our shame to choose not to contribute to that debate.

 Herald on Sunday

It is a difficult and important issue, covering an individual’s right to choose how they may end their life versus protection of vulnerable people.

The Herald shows how out of date they can be by not providing links to the submission page.

The Parliament website for the Health Committee isn’t helpful either. Business before the Health Committee doesn’t mention it, and if I follow it’s Submissions link I get:

Server Error

Oops – there has been an error. This error has been automatically emailed to our website team and we will endeavour to fix it as soon as possible.

But there is a page:

Petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others

Public submissions are now being invited on the Petition of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others.

The closing date for submissions is Monday, 1 February 2016

The Health Select Committee has received a petition requesting “That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.” The petition asks for a change to existing law. Therefore the committee will undertake an investigation into ending one’s life in New Zealand. In order to fully understand public attitudes the committee will consider all the various aspects of the issue, including the social, legal, medical, cultural, financial, ethical, and philosophical implications. The Committee will investigate: 1. The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life. 2. The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives. 3. The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation. 4. International experiences. The committee will seek to hear from all interested groups and individuals.

The committee requires 2 copies of each submission if made in writing. Those wishing to include any information of a private or personal nature in a submission should first discuss this with the clerk of the committee, as submissions are usually released to the public by the committee. Those wishing to appear before the committee to speak to their submissions should state this clearly and provide a daytime telephone contact number. To assist with administration please supply your postcode and an email address if you have one.

Further guidance on making a submission can be found from the Making a Submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee link in the `Related documents´ panel.

There’s a much more helpful site – Lecretia’s Choice


The Health Select Committee is taking public submissions on assisted dying and suicide.  They want to hear from New Zealanders about their beliefs and concerns about end of life choices.  It is your chance to tell our politicians how you feel about end of life care and the choices you want to have.

The Parliament website has a helpful guide that explains the Select Committee Process (PDF) and how it affects Parliamentary decision-making. They also have a longer guide on how to make a submission, the key points of which are covered at the end of this page.

The original petition was “That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.”

We are not happy with the terms of reference created by the Health Select Committee in response to this, as they imply that someone seeking assisted dying wants to die, which couldn’t be further from the truth. They have also brought the issue of suicide into scope, even though this wasn’t part of the request of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society petition. However it is not possible for the terms to be changed at this point, so it is not worth debating this as part of your submission. It is best to focus on the terms as written. The terms of reference are:

      • The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life.
      • The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives.
      • The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation.
      • International experiences.

The Committee intends to consider “all the various aspects of the issue, including the social, legal medical, cultural, financial, ethical and philosophical implications.”

More details at:

Lecretia’s Choice

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?