Strong start by Speaker

Trevor Mallard should have been well prepared for taking over as Parliament’s Speaker. He has been waiting to take over for several years, and he has an extensive knowledge of Parliamentary procedures and rules.

He preceded the opening Oral Questions with a statement:

Oral QuestionsSupplementary Questions

Mr SPEAKER: Before the House comes to the first question time of the 52nd Parliament, I would like to make some comments on how I intend to preside over oral questions. I have circulated this to members earlier in the day.

I expect primary and supplementary questions to be asked without interjection. Oral questions are an important mechanism for holding the Government to account, and, at a minimum, the House should be able to hear the questions being asked of Ministers. Strictly speaking, members are entitled to speak without interruption at all times, but the House has consented to some interjection to enable members to seek information—Speaker’s ruling 58/1.

In my view, oral questions will proceed more effectively if questions can be asked without interjection. Barrages of interjection other times, including during answers to questions, will continue to be out of order.

Supplementary questions are given at the discretion of the Speaker—Speaker’s rulings 172/1 and 172/3. In recent times, the Speaker has given an indication to the parties of the way they may allocate questions. I have continued that practice, and I have also indicated to the three smaller parties in the House that they are able to use their supplementaries across a week.

However, I do intend to use supplementary questions to encourage good behaviour from those asking and answering questions. Where no attempt is made to provide an informative reply, I’m likely to award the questioner additional supplementary questions.

Where questions are misused, I may reduce the number of supplementary questions available that day to the offending party, or I may increase the allocation to an opposing party. I aim to ensure a freer flow of questions and answers without the Speaker being so involved. I will still call on members to ask primary questions, but where a Minister’s asked an oral question he or she may answer immediately without waiting for a call from the Speaker.

After the primary question, I will simply nod to the member asking questions to indicate for them to continue with supplementaries. I will only call a member when inviting a different member to ask a supplementary question.

This was a sensible and clear way to kick things off. Mallard then followed up by preceding in an even handed manner, allowing questions to proceed without being dominated by bad behaviour. He laid down the law quickly.

During Question 1:

Rt Hon Bill English: What is the appropriate measure—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Sorry, I’m just going to start right now. Who is the member who interjected then? Right, there’s an additional question to the Opposition.

And:

Rt Hon Bill English: Does the Government stand by—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The chief Government whip, I think, interjected, or someone around her did. There is a further supplementary to the Opposition.

During Question 5:

David Seymour: Oh, yes, I would. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon Kris Faafoi: Where’s your friends, David?

David Seymour: Well, you find friends in the most unexpected places.

Mr SPEAKER: Was that you, Mr Faafoi?

Hon Kris Faafoi: Yes, it was.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, Mr Seymour gets an extra supplementary.

Both those rulings were against Labour MPs.

In between Labour’s Leader of the House tried to swing one their way:

Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier on, you awarded additional supplementary questions to the Opposition for Government interjection during their questions. Just a point of clarification on your earlier—well, actually, no, a question: does that apply when interjections are made by members of the same party during questions, as we had just before?

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, it does, but I think, as the Minister is aware, I am slightly deaf in my left ear, so I didn’t hear any interjections.

Funny.

There were some interjections through Oral Questions, but they weren’t allowed to dominate due to the Speaker showing he was prepared to penalise disruptive behaviour.

It made for a much better session in Parliament.

Another ruling:

Rt Hon Bill English: My question to the Prime Minister is this, then: are there other commitments that were made during the election campaign and in the Speech from the Throne that are now open to revision and later decisions?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We are committed to implementing what the Governor-General has said in the Speech from the Throne.

Hon Amy Adams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to clarify: it’s been the practice in the House for some time that a member answering on behalf of another member should clearly identify that. I didn’t want to interrupt the question, but can you clarify whether that is still the case?

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister answered the question.

He was correct, Davis was Acting Prime Minister as opposed to speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister.

In Question 3:

Hon Steven Joyce: I’m sorry, Mr Speaker, but just to be clear, the Minister released a fiscal plan prior to the election—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will sit the member down now and ask him to ask a question. Speaker Hunt used to have an old saying that questions start with a question word, rather than something else.

Another clear ruling in Question 3:

Hon Tracey Martin: In the 51st Parliament, the last Speaker made it very clear that the Government was not responsible for the manifesto or the policies of a political party. Can I ask for a ruling on that, please?

Mr SPEAKER: I’m happy to answer that. I think the member has been quite careful in the way that he has phrased his questions, asking whether the member was standing by the figures or still agreed with the figures. I think that is something that is acceptable. They’re a set of figures—it doesn’t really matter where they come from, and it’s a question of whether those figures portray the current position of the Government. If that was not the case, I would have ruled out the original question.

The Speaker also twice ruled that an an answer could be adduced by omission. In Question 3:

Hon Steven Joyce: Can the finance Minister then confirm that he doesn’t at all stand by the numbers he presented in the Labour Party’s fiscal plan prior to the election?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Government is currently going through the usual process of putting together a Budget. We are absolutely confident that we will deliver a Budget that is in line with the Budget responsibility rules that were outlined in the Speech from the Throne and that will deliver to New Zealanders a fair share in prosperity. As I said in my primary answer, the final numbers are the subject of the normal Budget process.

Hon Simon Bridges: It’s simply this. The question was straight, really: whether he stood by the numbers they had pre-election. There really wasn’t any attempt to answer that specific question.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I’m not going to take any further comments on that. Both the asker of the question and I thought that there was a very clear response.

Avoiding answering can be assumed to be a negative response.

In Question 5:

Hon Nikki Kaye: Given the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday, that all people are entitled to care and compassion, will he guarantee that he will personally visit all of these partnership schools or the sponsors of the proposed schools prior to making any decisions about the future of some of our most disadvantaged children?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I have been clear that we will deal with all of the issues around charter schools on a case by case basis and in good faith. The negotiations around potential changes to the contracts or arrangements will be conducted by the Ministry of Education and not by Ministers.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This was a very simple yes or no—will he visit the schools of these most disadvantaged children—and he didn’t answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER:  Similar to the advice that I gave to the Hon Steven Joyce earlier, I think, by omission the answer was actually clear.

So a very promising, firm and fair start by the Speaker.

Trevor Mallard as Speaker

Long time Labour MP Trevor Mallard (first elected in 1984, 33 years ago) has achieved his ambition of the last few terms – to become Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives.

Mallard has had a fairly chequered political career. In the past he has been very tribal and combative, but he seems to have mellowed and has tended to keep a lower profile as he worked his way towards the big chair in Parliament.

He probably has as good a knowledge of the rules and customs of Parliament as any MP so is well qualified on that count. He has served as Assistant Speaker for the last term.

Mallard should start as Speaker with a virtual clean slate. He has the necessary knowledge and experience. It will be his temperament and his impartiality that will be tested. We will have to wait and see how well he conducts himself.

From Parliament:  Meet the Speaker of the 52nd Parliament

The Rt Hon. Trevor Mallard, Speaker, 52nd Parliament

The Rt Hon. Trevor Mallard, Speaker, 52nd Parliament
Source: Office of the Clerk, 2017

Candidates for Speaker are nominated and seconded by other MPs. Only one candidate was nominated so an election was not needed and Mr Mallard was declared as Speaker-Elect.

Once declared, Mr Mallard travelled to Government House to be confirmed as Speaker by the Governor-General.

He will be known as The Right Honourable Trevor Mallard.

The Speaker is essential to the running of the House and has to command the respect of all MPs. The New Zealand Speaker is allowed to maintain links with their party (unlike in some other Parliaments), but must not show any preference or disrespect for any political party, for the Government, or the Opposition while chairing proceedings in the House. All MPs must be given a fair opportunity to participate in the business of the House.

Shambolic start to Parliament

I’ve been away for a couple of days so am just catching up a bit. It sounds like Parliament and politics is a shambles today.

Stuff:  Red-faced Government needs to bury first-day farce, fast

So far so shambolic. If this is a taste of things to come in the new Parliament, get ready for a wild ride.

Labour has run hard up against the reality of dealing with the biggest single Opposition party ever, and the panicked scenes as it tried to bargain its way out of an embarrassing vote to elect the new Speaker are a memory it will want to bury quick smart.

The desperate discussions captured on the floor of Parliament as Labour’s leader of the House, Chris Hipkins, tried to salvage a bad situation from turning into a train wreck are just the sort of images Labour doesn’t need.

Those images have catapulted what would normally be an in-house, procedural stoush, into a defining moment. They fit the Opposition narrative – the narrative being that this is the same party that only a few months ago was divided, and defeated, that Labour wasn’t ready for power, that the next three years are going to be a shambles.

The first vote on the first day of the House means none of those things of course. Labour was never actually at risk of losing the vote to elect a new Speaker – but what’s important is it thought that it might, after National spotted the absence of a number of Government MPs, and threatened to elect its own Speaker.

Looks like a steep learning curve for  Hipkins and for Labour.

While Labour was still scrambling to recover from that debacle, Foreign Minister Winston Peters dropped a bombshell, serving legal papers taking broad aim at a bunch of Opposition MPs, political staffers, a government department chief executive, and journalists, before heading overseas.

It’s hard to know whether Peters has evidence and wants more to back it up, or he is, as some have claimed, on a massive fishing expedition. If the latter then it looks problematic – especially going after journalists for their sources.

And it had been cl.aimed the papers were prepared two days prior to the election, and obviously well in advance of the supposed coalition negotiations.

Were the negotiations are farce designed to force Labour into conceding more?

Or was the legal action used as leverage – something like an attempt at political blackmail?

It at least make sit appear as if a National-NZ First coalition was a hopeless case.

At least they sorted themselves out in Parliament, with Trevor Mallard appointed Speaker.

But the deputy Prime Minister starting his term playing legal hard ball with the Leader of the Opposition, senior opposition MPs and journalists suggests the possibility of a very messy term – if it survives.

Stuff: Winston Peters looks to sue over pension leak

An affidavit seen by Stuff shows papers have been filed in the High Court naming Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle, National leader Bill English and his former chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, former ministers Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce, and Anne Tolley, and journalists Lloyd Burr and Tim Murphy.

Former National Party campaign communications manager Clark Hennessy is also named. The affidavit alleges Hennessy was the most likely source of the leak.

In a statement, Hennessy said “I strongly deny any involvement in this matter or anything to do with Mr Peters’ personal life”.

The affidavit, prepared by Peters’ lawyers, says he has instructed them to identify and sue the “persons responsible” for the leak. The affidavit was sworn in September, but the papers were only served on Tuesday, after Peters had left the country for an international summit

 

Speaking rights in Parliament

Interesting tweets from :

Under standing orders, party leaders of parties with six or more members are entitled to speak on Ministerial Statements.

In the last Parliament, this meant that (as of right) the government got one speech (plus a reply), and the opposition three speeches.

In the new parliament, with its smaller opposition, made of fewer parties, and with only one party of more than six MPs, this means that instead of the Government having one speech, and the opposition three speeches (which is what happened in the last Parliament) the Government will now have three speeches, and the opposition will only be entitled to one.

Please note I am speaking here of entitlement. Even in the last Parliament, leaders of smaller parties often spoke on things like this but this would apparently happen by agreement of the business committee, but does not happen as of right.

Advantage Government.

This is interesting but probably not of big importance. Speeches in Parliament are a part of the process but generally don’t get much attention, and most of the public will be oblivious to them.

Question Time

Media pay the most attention in Parliament to Question Time. This is usually split between Opposition MPs asking Ministers questions, trying to hold them to account, embarrass them and score political points, and Government MPs asking Minister ‘patsy’ questions, which are largely a waste of time and ignored.

What are the rules?

Questions are allocated proportionally to each party based on the number of MPs, though parties may exchange slots through mutual agreement. Any MP can ask a question. Questions may in restricted circumstances be asked of MPs other than Ministers.

There are twelve questions per session. This means that as the largest party National will get to answer the most questions, nearly half, so they will be in a position to dominate if they use their questions wisely.

Each party will have about this number of questions:

  • National: 6, or half the questions each session
  • Labour: 4-5 questions each session
  • NZ First: 1 question most sessions (they will miss 1 in 10)
  • Greens: 1 question in four of every five sessions
  • ACT: who?

This contrasts with last term when the largest Opposition party, Labour, got about 3 questions per session, and Greens and NZ First tended to do their own thing.

Advantage Opposition.

Mr Speaker

Trevor Mallard has been itching to be Speaker for a term or two, and it looks like his dream of sitting in the big chair in Parliament will come true if Greens and NZ First approve.

It will be interesting to see how Mallard manages the House. he has an in depth knowledge of the rules so is well qualified on that count. As usually the Speaker’s impartiality, or lack thereof, will be a talking point.

Advantage no one (if it’s done right).

Election of Speaker

Members of Parliament vote to elect the Speaker at the start of each new Parliament (after every general election). This is the first task of every new Parliament once members have been sworn in.
Candidates are nominated by another member and, after the election vote, the Speaker-Elect visits the Governor-General to be confirmed in office.

The position of Speaker is high-ranking — the Speaker commands the respect of other members. This is because the Speaker is the member that the House chooses to communicate with the Sovereign on its behalf.

It is important that the elected Speaker is not biased towards any political party. This ensures that every member of Parliament has an equal chance to contribute to debates and take part in other business in the House.

Despite this, the Speaker of New Zealand’s House of Representatives is allowed to maintain links with their political party, but must not show political bias when chairing business in the House. The Speaker must not show either preference or disrespect for any political party, for the Government, or the Opposition. All members of the House must be treated equally.

From Role & election of the Speaker

 

Mallard ‘had enough’ of Opposition

Trevor Mallard held his Hutt South electorate in a close tussle with National’s Chris Bishop in the 2014 election but this year decided to go list only to focus on his ambition to become Parliament’s Speaker.

Unless Labour improve on last election’s effort Mallard is at risk of missing out on returning altogether, but he says he doesn’t want to spend more time in Opposition so if Labour fail again he may be happy to not be a part of that.

Mallard has been placed at 32 on Labour’s party list, which would require a party vote of about 32% (depending on electorate results) – 32 is effectively closer to 38 due to the six Maori electorate MPs not being included on the list. Mallard opted off the list himself last election, relying on his electorate win to get back in.

Going list only this time Mallard needs an improved party vote to return as an MP, and Labour need to probably do even better than Mallard needs to form the next government. 35% or more is probably needed to be a credible lead party.

The list ructions over the last couple of days won’t have helped.

Stuff: Willie Jackson’s role in the Labour Party is still a bone of contention

When asked to comment on the way the list disputes had played out so publicly, long-serving Labour MP Trevor Mallard said he’d never seen “anything like it” but he didn’t want to comment on “what, if any, damage it has done” to the party’s reputation.

He’ll be hoping not to much damage has been done, but Labour need to go forward, not backwards in credibility and support.

Mallard said Labour was a “broad-base party and some people will be more supportive of the shape of the list than others”.

He said he wasn’t one of the MPs that was unhappy with their list place – Mallard was given the 32nd spot, which means he needs more than 30 per cent to safely get in.

“Opposition is absolutely debilitating and I’ve had enough of it.”

His low profile may be a reflection of this – he seems to have largely given up apart from trying to be Speaker.

“I’ve made it very clear to people I have no interest in being an Opposition member of Parliament. I had nine years in a row of that. I’d love to be Speaker and the position means that if we were in a position to be in Government I can be the Speaker,” Mallard said.

So it sounds like Mallard will be happy to be out of Parliament if Labour fail again.

However to become Speaker Mallard needs Labour’s party vote to improve. Will he do anything to help with that, or has he had enough of campaigning as well?

More widespread disgruntlement amongst current or ex Labour supporters won’t help.

Jo Bond:

Disgusting. Did you find out about NZ Council rushing a special conference last year to get the moderating committee shrunk and remove binding votes from list conferences? We don’t even get to find out the results of our indicative votes. This is so bad.!

Tat Loo:

Yes I heard about that but am out of the loop on details. The old guard Labour right wing is ripped to shreds now.

Tat Loo was a Labour candidate in 2011 but has crossed swords since then, notably with Clare Curran, and as Colonial Viper at The Standard (I think he is banned until after the election).

Mallard mud in Hutt South

Labour fossil Trevor Mallard was pushed hard by National’s young gun Chris Bishop last election, ending up holding on by 709 votes, down from a majority of 4,825 votes (to Paul Quinn) in 2011.

This time round Mallard has thrown in the electorate towel and has chosen to stand on the list only. He is aiming for the job of Speaker. He will be hoping for a high enough list placing to get him into the big chair in Parliament.

Standing for Labour this year will be Ginny Andersen, who for some reason has moved from Ohariu where she came close to Peter Dunne in 2014.

Mallard must have forgotten that he is trying to look respectful and behave like he has put his maverick mud throwing days behind him yesterday. He took a dirty swipe at Bishop on Twitter:

MallardTweet

Also on Facebook:

MallardFacebook

He seems to already fancy himself with the Speaker’s chair in his Facebook profile. Associating that sort of comment with Parliament and the Speaker is not a good look.

He has edited that Facebook comment to now just read “Kids help keep my successor grounded.”

And his Tweet has now been deleted. A bit of social media flak seems to have prompted him to remove his ill considered comments.

This sort of ill discipline may not help his list chances, and is as likely to damage Andersen’s electorate chances as help them.

Someone who was first elected to Parliament in 1984 should know better. At least he has apologised.

MallardTweet2

 

Mallard to go list only

Trevor Mallard has announced he won’t stand in the Hutt South electorate next year, where he has been MP since 1993.

RNZ: Trevor Mallard won’t stand again for Hutt South

He will instead seek a place on the Labour list and said he had been given the nod from party leader Andrew Little that should Labour win the election he would be nominated for the position of Speaker of the House.

If Labour+Greens get to form the next Government and if Greens support Mallard becoming speaker and potentially if NZ First support Mallard becoming speaker.

Mr Mallard said it was up to Labour’s moderating committee to decide on list placements ahead of next year’s election.

This could be quite a risk for Mallard unless Labour improves it’s support. Last election Andrew Little only just squeaked back into Parliament via the list.

If Mallard gets back in on the list but doesn’t become speaker what will he do then? Mark time on the back bench.

Mr Mallard said his decision not to stand again in Hutt South had nothing to do with National’s Chris Bishop working hard to make some ground in the electorate.

“We’ve polled in Hutt South and I’m not convinced that Chris Bishop has made any more traction there than any other MP,” said Mr Mallard.

“In fact the local results very much parallel the national results with the significant increase for Labour since the election.”

Labour got 25% in the last election. They got 25.5% in the latest Roy Morgan poll and I didn’t see much questioning of this. They have polled in the twenties up to the low thirties since the election.

Bishop came within 709 votes of Mallard in Hutt South last election, down from 4825 in 2011. Mallard got a considerably higher vote (43.48%) than Labour (27.84%).

Bishop continues to work hard in the electorate. He recently opened an electorate office.

Mallard has put Labour into an awkward position.  He will continue to represent the electorate until the next election, so Labour’s new candidate will have to try and build a profile in his shadow.

However if Labour loses Hutt South it may give Mallard more chance of making it in via the list.

Has anyone positioned themselves solely to become the Speaker before?

Stuff earlier this month: Could ‘the everywhere man’ Chris Bishop win Hutt South off Mallard?

Evidence of outcomes on Whānau Ora

Parliament can often be seen as a morass of mundicity punctuated by gross grandstanding and bursts of bull.

But occasionally it can be entertaining. Like question 11 on Thursday. It had some typical nit-picky points of order from Trevor Mallard and Winston Peters but the latter ended up being quietly outsmarted by Te Ururoa Flavell.

This interchange has an unexpected family twist in it’s tail. (Thanks for pointing this out Gezza).


Whānau Ora—Evidence of Outcomes

11. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: What evidence, if any, does he have that Whānau Ora is making any meaningful impact for Māori whatsoever other than anecdotal evidence and conversations he has had?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Whānau Ora): Actually, it is good to go and meet with the people who are actually benefiting from Whānau Ora, but I can advise the House that the evidence comes from at least 10 publicly available reports that all speak of the benefits and the outcomes achieved by the Whānau Ora approach. In phase one of Whānau Ora at least 9,400 whānau received whānau-centred services until June 2014. Since Whānau Ora commissioning agencies have been established, Whānau Ora commissioning agencies reporting on engagement and achievement as at March 2016 show that over 8,500 whānau have been supported through Whānau Ora in all sorts of ways, such as health outcomes, financial literacy, education, and economic security. There is plenty out there. I would table it, but I know that is against the Standing Orders.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has become clear that there is a misunderstanding of the Standing Orders. The Minister can, of course, table any paper that he wants, at any stage—he is a Minister. Even if it is a public document, any Minister can table it. In fact, many of the documents Ministers do table are public. They do not require the consent of the House the way other members do.

Mr SPEAKER: And if the member seeks the leave, I have a discretion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have got a list of 12 of those reports. I am happy to read all of them out in order to achieve—

Mr SPEAKER: No. No, I want the point of order.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The point of order is: I wish to table these documents.

Mr SPEAKER: Are they publicly available?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: They are publicly available.

Mr SPEAKER: Then I am not going to put that leave.

Darroch Ball: Why has he not commissioned or released one single independent report or economic analysis on Whānau Ora since July 2014, instead of relying upon anecdotal evidence to measure progress and outputs?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will start by saying that a number of reports have been commissioned and are available publicly. Let us start with the Productivity Commission. I will quote the Productivity Commission, which said in its report: “The Commission finds that Whānau Ora shows much promise to tackle long-standing issues for improving Māori wellbeing. Its kaupapa Māori approach is especially important to Māori wellbeing. It has many of the characteristics required for a devolved model to promote integrated services for families with multiple, complex needs and aspirations.” I have got another one—Office of the Auditor-General. I have got Ministry of Health—I have got them all.

Joanne Hayes: What announcements has the Minister made recently to support the economic outcomes for Māori?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I have more good news. Whānau Ora is committed to empowering whānau to achieve—one of its goals is better economic outcomes. Today, along with my colleague the Hon Peter Goldsmith, I was pleased to announce the allocation of $900,000—

Hon Members: Ha, ha! Paul!

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Sorry, Mr Speaker. Sorry, Paul.

Mr SPEAKER: Carry on, quickly.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I offer my apologies to my colleague Paul Goldsmith.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. [Interruption] That is not a point of order. Now quickly bring the answer to a conclusion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I am just pleased to announce $900,000 to improve the financial capability—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How much?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: —amongst Māori. It is more than you have got, Mr Peters, for Māori communities—$900,000 more.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Point of order on two grounds: first of all, he cannot bring you into the debate; the second thing is I got $239 million—not like he got.

Mr SPEAKER: I am not interested in the second part of the—[Interruption] Order! I am not interested in the second part of the point of order, and for the first part I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 31/3. If I am brought into the debate—and often it is accidental—I will intervene if I need to. It is my determination, not the Rt Hon Winston Peters’.

Darroch Ball: I seek leave to table a document that has been obtained through the Official Information Act and is dated 13 August 2015. The source is Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), and it states there are no independent reports or economic analysis commissioned by TPK.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular document. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Darroch Ball: What evidence has he presented to the Minister of Finance for Whānau Ora funding when the Government’s social investment approach demands measurable data and measurable outcomes before continuing to spend taxpayers’ money?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The Minister of Finance is available on the Whānau Ora Partnership Group and receives all of the reports from commissioning agencies on a quarterly basis. He receives those reports. Secondly, all of the reports from commissioning agencies are available online on the website and are public documents. Anyone can read them and there is plenty of evidence out there.

Joanne Hayes: How does the announcement support the Government’s national strategy on financial capability?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Last year the Government signalled that improving the financial well-being of all New Zealanders was a priority. The upscaling of these pioneering Māori pilot programmes reinforces our ongoing commitment to this goal. We know that the Government needs to provide three things in order to steer people away from getting trapped in the cycle of debt and poor financial decisions. The three things are effective legislation, proper enforcement, and improved education. This will certainly contribute to that.

Darroch Ball: When is going to realise that Whānau Ora is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money while it is not working for ordinary Māori when, for example, the number of homeless Māori in Auckland has increased by 10 percent this year alone, more than half of all homeless—

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, next week is Māori Language Week. My ears are little bit sore with “Maari”—I would ask the member to pronounce it properly as Māori.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is starting to trifle with the Chamber. The question is a provocative question, it is likely to get a provocative answer, but it has been asked.

Darroch Ball: I have not finished my question.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member better hurry up and finish it. To be fair to the member, I invite him to start the question again as he has now lost his continuity.

Darroch Ball: When is he going to realise that Whānau Ora is a complete waste of taxpayer money while it is not working for ordinary Māori when, for example, the number of homeless Māori in Auckland has increased by 10 percent in this year alone, more than half of all homeless in Wellington are Māori, and 40 percent of those of all those on social housing waiting lists are Māori—

Mr SPEAKER: The question is too long.

Darroch Ball: —and Māori youth—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been asked.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will help the member. On reflection, I have a quote from a chief executive officer of at least one Whānau Ora provider from Northland who told the media in 2015: “Whānau Ora has made a substantive and positive difference to the way we are able to work with and align services”—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This Minister was asked “when is he”. It was not asked whether he could go somewhere else and seek refuge. It asked him for a personal answer, and he is not giving it.

Mr SPEAKER: The question, effectively, was “When is the Minister going to realise it is a complete waste of money?”. That gives a very wide ambit for the Minister to then answer the question. Members may not like the answer they are getting; I suggest they reconsider the type of questions they ask. The Hon Te Uruora Flavell—bring the answer to a conclusion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Firstly, I say again I reject that allegation in the first instance. Secondly, I say again—

Darroch Ball: Where’s the evidence?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will give you the evidence right now—from somebody involved in Whānau Ora. It is the chief executive officer of Whānau Ora, and they said: “Whānau Ora has made a substantive and positive difference to the way we are able to work with and align services to meet the needs of the people,” That person was Lynette Stewart, the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ sister.

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

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am just waiting until I can hear it in silence because I am sure it is going to be interesting.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Every family has a member who loses their way.

Mr SPEAKER: And some families have more than others.

Joanne Hayes: What further reports has he had in relation to Whānau Ora’s success in Northland?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I have pretty much given the evidence. As the honourable member just said, there is evidence around, and the evidence is the statement I just gave to the House—that the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ sister was a chief executive officer of a provider of Whānau Ora.

 

Mallard versus Smith again

Trevor Mallard as Assistant Speaker has clashed with Nick Smith in Parliament before, with Smith being sent from the House – see Trevor Mallard versus Nick Smith.

There was a curious wee exchange between the two of them last night in Parliament, where Mallard ordered Smith to leave the House, but then changed his mind and said that Smith could come back..Mallard may have erred.

This happened when Labour housing spokesperson Phil Twyford was speaking on the introduction of Andrew Little’s Healthy Homes bill and Smith interjected.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū): … Andrew Little’s bill will require under the standards that will be promulgated under regulations a modern, affordable, and fixed heating source. The other deficiency in Nick Smith’s bill, which Andrew Little’s bill fixed, is that it will mandate legislation standards to the state of the modern building code. Nick Smith’s bill will allow houses that are retrofitted, that are already insulated to the 1978 standard, which is this standard—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: That’s a lie.

PHIL TWYFORD:—Nick Smith’s bill will allow hundreds of—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Order! The member will resume his seat. Nick Smith will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I stand, withdraw, and apologise.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): The member will now leave the House. It is the second time. He knows how to withdraw properly. He will leave the House.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Sorry, what did I do wrong?

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): The member knows he makes no further comment, and he did.

The video shows no sign of Smith saying anything other than “I stand, withdraw, and apologise.”

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I apologise.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Dr Smith, just come back. If it was a genuine mistake on your part and you give me that assurance, the member may stay.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I genuinely apologise.

It seems to have been a mistake on Mallard’s part. That may be why he changed his mind and allowed Smith to return.

This exchange begins at about 3:10 in this video:

Prior to this while Smith was giving his speech on the bill:

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: …That means the very first home to get insulated under this bill would be July 2018, and last home to get insulated would not be until July 2023. That compares—

Andrew Little: You’re making it up.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Read the bill. Read your own bill, because the Government’s approach provides that social housing must be insulated by 1 July this year, and all homes that are rented by 1 July 2019.

The Assistant Speaker didn’t intervene on “you’re making it up”, but accusing members of lying is generally regarded as going too far in Parliament. Smith will be well aware of this.

But it appears that Mallard may have got it wrong here.

Media ignore Mallard tweet

On Wednesday during Question Time in Parliament Trevor Mallard sent a tweet that accused John Key of being involved in tax evasion.

This is a serious accusation by an MP who is deputy speaker and aspires to be Speaker should Labour get back into power (and their coalition partners agree).

Whale Oil posted on the tweet yesterday:

Disgusting defamatory smear on John Key via Twitter from Trevor Mallard

Yesterday at 2:34pm Trevor Mallard made a tweet that didn’t just accuse John Key of being associated with tax evasion, it actually stated he was involved.

I have a screenshot, but the tweet has since been deleted, and I’m not going to repeat what it said.

However a link purportedly showing the deleted text was posted in a comment showing that it had been public for about two hours.

Suffice to say it was highly defamatory and you would think that an Assistant Speaker of the House would know better than to use Twitter from inside the house to defame the Prime Minister.

But deleting the text doesn’t make the defamation any less.

It appears that the tweet said “John Key deep in tax evasion” – something that is widely implicated and stated around social media, without foundation.

It doesn’t take much to find examples, recently from The Standard in comments associated with Key’s deposit with company specialising in foreign trusts

Paul:

Crooked Key

AmaKiwi:

The world of Wall St. high finance is the world of tax evasion. I think Key is up to his eyeballs in trouble and fighting desperately to keep from drowning.

This sort of comment are common, but coming from an MP is another matter.

It is obviously an unacceptable tweet from an MP while in Parliament, and is not one that can be supported by any evidence that I’m aware of.

Slater is justified in calling it dirty politics, despite some irony in him complaining about others using smears in politics. Slater and Mallard have feuded for years.

David Farrar also posted on this at Kiwiblog – Mallard defames Key.

Mallard has since deleted the tweet, which basically said John Key is involved in tax evasion.

Now what makes this worse is Trevor Mallard is an Assistant Speaker of the House of Representatives. He is Labour’s nominee to be Speaker. His behaviour is incompatible with being an officer of the House. Smearing and defaming the Prime Minister on Twitter (and during question time) does not make people think you can preside fairly over the House.

Mallard needs to decide – does he want to be Assistant Speaker, or does he want to be Labour’s Attack Dog? You can’t be both.

As for Mallard’s smear. Well they’ve been trying the same line for almost ten years now and it hasn’t worked. You think they would come up with a new strategy, but it seems they can’t.

This week some of the media prominently launched into ‘news’ that promoted a ‘perception’ problem for John Key over trusts and lawyers even though there was nothing that pointed to any actual impropriety.

But they seem to have ignored the deputy speaker sending a smear tweet while Parliament was sitting.

Is this because Mallard is not taken seriously any more?

Or is it because stories promoted by Slater and Farrar via their blogs are now shunned by media after the Dirty Politics disclosures?

Or did it not fit with their anti-Key messages that have been prevalent this week?

Or a mixture of all of the above?

One thing is for sure – political news can be very selective, and topical targets can get hammered disproportionately while others get away with large dollops of dirt dishing.

Perhaps Mallard’s tweet will be dealt with appropriately through Parliament’s Privileges Committee.

The Greens promote themselves as having integrity and have long pushed for better behaviour in Parliament – should they rule out supporting Mallard as a candidate for Speaker should they get joint power with Labour?