Mallard “best and worst of Speakers”

Some of what Trevor Mallard has done as Speaker is innovative and relatively effective, but he remains dogged by his political bias and his personal baggage with some MPs, which seem unlikely to change.

Audrey Young: Is it time for fresh challenges for Speaker Trevor Mallard?

Mallard’s performance as Speaker this week has not done the Government any favours.

He is seen as simply part of the Government and the Government is seen to be throwing out National MPs – leader Simon Bridges and Nick Smith – from Parliament.

It has been so bad, that if Ardern is casting around for a capable minister to add to her ranks for the June reshuffle, maybe she should consider bringing Mllard back into the ministry.

Mallard was one of the most highly valued and competent ministers in the Helen Clark.

Mallard is a problem for the Government as Speaker, and he would add something that labour lacks in the current Cabinet – experience. I wonder how he would do as Minister of Housing, or Health. The current ministers are struggling to perform adequately.

While Mallard also has ample experience for his role as Speaker he also has a history of animosities that he seems unable to separate from the job.

I have covered Parliament under seven Speakers and Mallard is both the best and the worst, rolled into one.

When he’s good, he’s brilliant, but on a bad day he’s a House-wrecker.

The good:

On a good day (and there have been two in the past six sitting days) question time can be brilliant.

Because of the rules Mallard instituted, the flow of questions and answers is seamless and his intervention is evident only when he insists on a fuller answer.

He listens to questions and answers very carefully. he does not give diatribes when explaining why he has made a decision.

With oversight over written parliamentary questions, he has also demanded a better standard from ministers and twice this year has awarded National an extra 12 questions because of sloppy written answers from Shane Jones and David Clark.

The bad:

Mallard at his worst is when he abuses the inherent power of the chair by punishing Opposition MPs and then punishes them for reacting under extreme provocation.

That is how Simon Bridges came to being kicked out.

Bridges was kicked out for calling Mallard “unprofessional”. Under Parliament’s rules it was not an unfair punishment. But Bridges was right: Mallard had been unprofessional.

What is happening is that Mallard is giving himself licence to insult MPs but as soon as they bite back they are punished.

Mallard insulted Bridges several times on Tuesday, demanding he knew show “leadership” at a time he knew Bridges was facing leadership pressure. The apparent intention was to humiliate Bridges.

The absolute worst:

However Mallard was at his absolute worst when he refused to put leave on behalf of Nick Smith to give priority to a Bill next members’ day that provided roadside drug testing of drivers.

Smith wanted to know why and Mallard said that he himself had objected. That is unprecedented for the so-called umpire.

When objected, not unfairly, Mallard ordered him to leave the house.

As Speaker, Mallard has power, and he doesn’t want that challenged even when he misuses it.

When Smith abused Mallard on the way out Mallard ordered him back in and named him, suspending him from all proceedings for a day.

The abuse hurled at Mallard by Smith warranted serious punishment, but Mallard’s refusal to put leave was extreme provocation and an abuse of his position.

In contrast, Mallard is quite lenient with government MPs, like Winston Peters.

At times he also appears to protect the Prime Minister and other Ministers.

Mallard has the experience to be a good speaker, and has made worthwhile improvements to how things are done, but he has always had a problem with his temperament, and that is not easily resolved.

Would Ardern consider moving him from the Speaker’s chair to a ministerial responsibility? Would Mallard want to?

Thiessen: The 10 worst things Trump did in 2018

Following Marc Thiessen’s Trump successes in 2018 he has also done The 10 worst things Trump did in 2018.

… he also did a lot of bad things that ranged from cringeworthy to catastrophic. Here are the 10 worst:

10. His comment about “sh–hole” countries blew up negotiations for a deal that would have given Trump his border wall.
…his abhorrent comment undermined Democrats who were serious about cutting a deal and gave those who were not a pretext to walk away.

9. His offensive tweets continued to undermine his presidency.
Calling former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman “a dog” and Stormy Daniels “Horseface” — among countless offensive tweets — is not just unpresidential, it drives away potential supporters who like his policies but then are reminded how much they don’t like Trump.

8. His misuse of power turned critics into martyrs.

7. He drove away suburban voters and caused the GOP to lose control of the House.
That’s because the president has sought to energize his base in ways that drive those voters away.

6. His graceless handling of Sen. John McCain’s funeral was a new low.

5. His handling of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder harmed America’s moral standing.

4. His news conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was an embarrassment.

3. His policy to separate migrant children from their families at the southern border was an avoidable tragedy.

2. His planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a gift to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The news came just as U.S. officials were holding talks with the Taliban whose No. 1 demand is . . . the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Hardly the “art of the deal.”

1. His pullout of all U.S. troops in Syria will take America’s boot off of the terrorists’ necks.
Trump’s claim that “we have defeated ISIS in Syria” is as bad as Obama’s dismissing them as the “J.V.” squad.




The worst thing National has done?

An interesting thread at Reddit: What’s the worst thing National’s done since being in power?

When assessing these it is worth considering whether a different Government could have done better – or is likely to have done worse.

Defunding youthline when NZ has the worst youth suicide of all time and removing money from mental health services in general.

Youth suicide and mental health in general is definitely up there as one of the biggest issues that has been completely swept under the rug. What a completely nasty bit of budgeting to cut the funding, looking back it’s unforgivable.

Modifying the definition of acceptable levels of E.coli in swimmable water from 1% to 5% to make it easier to meet targets for cleaner water.

Disbanded the democratically elected Canterbury Regional Council in order to install commissioners favourable to irrigation. Regardless of the arguments for and against water storage, you don’t remove democracy because it’s not delivering the result you want (or, as they labelled it, ‘dysfunctional’).

Stopping contributions to the Super fund has meant that it is currently about $20 billion less than it could have been.

The worst thing they have done is nothing. They squandered the largest reserve of political capital seen in a generation. Think of how much good Key could have done if he decided to use his popularity for enacting politically challenging changes that everyone knows are important but won’t act on, rather than reinforcing the status quo.

They used Goldman Sachs to sell half of our power companies to private interests on the eve of the electric car revolution, so now we have a profit focussed instead of utility focussed power sector right as we are about to transition from oil to electricity. And the interest saved on the money they got is a tiny fraction of what we as the taxpayers would have got from returns on those companies.

…they sold 49% of the SOEs. So, no actual structural change; just a one-off cash grab. If you truly in your heart of hearts believe that the private sector is the best place for these things, then fucking sell the whole things and be done with it. Their approach was worst of all worlds — one-off cash injection they didn’t need, combined with lower dividends in perpetuity, without any of the purported benefits of privatisation.

The combination of increasing the regressive tax GST to 15% and removing the top income tax bracket of 40% on the rich was a massive blow to egalitarianism in New Zealand, and has harmed not only poor people but our economy as a whole.

Rushing a law through in a day to overturn a case where it was ruled carers of disabled who were related to their children should receive money from the government. They also took away their ability to complain to the Human Rights commission about it. Harmed constitutional integrity of the nation and was bad for human rights.

Inaction on the housing crisis. For years they denied there’s a problem and now there is likely going to be a whole generation of people that can’t afford to buy. Doesn’t help the inequality situation.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Act. It will slowly destroy the New Zealand wilderness we grew up with. Pokey old alpine lodges in the wild places of NZ will be replaced by a private billionaires’ playground.

The thing that angers me the most is the constant threats and cuts to important services like Women’s Refuge, and Suicide prevention/ Rape Crisis helplines. The money is so small and they constantly cut or put tight restrictions on funding, then they look benevolent when they give some back or restructure it’s crazy.

…child poverty. Has anyone said anything about child poverty? How did we miss this… it was bad when they took over from Labour and things have not improved at all and in some measures gotten worse.

As a teacher the worst thing I’ve seen them do is remove teacher voice from our own professional body. They stripped away our right to elect representatives to the Teachers Council, making it a totally Minister-appointed body with the ability to re-write our standards and raise our fees however they see fit. It’s literally taxation without representation. They did the same to the university governing bodies as well.

Privatization of social services. Selling off assets. Rise in inequality, Housing cost, Living costs, and all in all just being out of touch with most kiwis.

Defunded evening classes for adults.

Told a boat load of lies about the Kim Dotcom case.

They sold our assets while the country screamed “NO!”.
They destroyed our privacy rights while the country screamed “NO!”.
They stormed ahead with the TPPA while the country screamed “NO!”.
They used things like Salmon Snapper Quotas and Flag changes to distract the population from the real stuff.

Imo they have a tendency to govern based on personal opinions and beliefs. When presented with facts, evidence, proof, they somtimes bend. Other times it is clear they aren’t interested.

Implementing a broken-by-design emissions trading scheme, and knowingly counting fraudulent carbon credits towards our emissions reductions targets.

If you want to get into any profession that requires post graduate study, you have to have well off parents to pay for your living costs. If you’re from a poor family, you can forget about being a vet or a doctor unless you’re happy to borrow to support your living costs as well.

The Student Allowance will no longer be available for postgraduate study (except Bachelor degrees with honours).

Studylink Budget 2012

the proposed flag change – the entire process is indicative of National… starting with an idea with some merit and completely fucking up every single stage in the process to end up with a result that satisfied nobody.

Removing voting rights for prisoners in NZ. Anyone who is detained in prison is de-registered and cannot re-register until they are released from prison. The High courts have since ruled that the legislation is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. In passing the legislation they sent it the Law and Order select committee instead of the Justice and Electoral select committee. A majority of submissions to the select committee were against the bill (skewed by an Otago uni paper assessment) and only two were for. One of those two was the bills sponsor. Voting rights are fundamental to a functioning democracy.

Passed the “Hobbit law” under urgency, which has since destroyed workers rights in the film and television industry, at the behest of Warner Brothers.

Letting the regions flounder and die.

They didn’t take global warming seriously. None of these other issues matter because when our environment is destroyed, it won’t be able to support a society.

Kept the Act party alive.

Surveillance state.

Boy racer act. Solved nothing and is anti-youth.

Continuing the failed war on cannabis in this country I would count as a failure on National’s watch.

Obviously this went much further than the worst that the National Government has done and there are a number of less major additional gripes. There’s quite a bit of discussion on many of those.

Which is the worst?

Which of these are unfair criticisms?

Which are just ideological differences?

Trans Tasman: best and worst of Labour

Stuff reports on Trans Tasman’s annual assessment of political performances in Trans-Tasman roll call – the best and worst of the 2015 political year.

Here are Labour MP assessments and ratings.

Labour fares little better, with transTasman saying it is still reeling from electoral defeat and Andrew Little’s ascension to the top job.

“He is battling to get his caucus behind him and to an extent has succeeded, but there are still many in the party’s ranks who should be looking to their futures – Clayton Cosgrove, David Cunliffe, David Parker and Trevor Mallard should all be looking for new jobs.”

Top five – Labour

Annette King – 6.5/10

Struggles to shake off the mantle of the 90s but is still a dominant force in the party. Labour will need her experience heading into a tough election in 2017.

Andrew Little – 6/10

Making a good first of the leadership, getting his MPs on side and on message. Still not using all his MPs strengths to full advantage. Polls need to move quickly and needs better advice.

Kelvin Davis – 6/10

Gets up the PM’s nose and has a social conscience… ready to be thrown into the attack and relishing it.

Chris Hipkins – 6/10

If Labour ever gets back into power, he will be at the top table.

Phil Twyford 6/10

Another of the young Labour stars who has worked his heart out on housing and transport issues. Deserves a big role in the next Labour Government.

Bottom five – Labour

Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene – 2/10

Another MP going nowhere fast. No prospect of advancement.

Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson – 2/10

Another Labour MP on her last legs. Needs to move on.

Mangere MP Su’a William Sio -2.5/10

His role is to deliver the Pacific Island vote and as long as he is there he probably will

List MP Clayton Cosgrove, Mana MP Kris Faafoi, Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare, List MP Sue Moroney, Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa, Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri  – 3/10

Cosgrove is “a shadow of his old self” and on the outer – probably time to go, says trans-Tasman. Of the others, it says Faafoi had promise, but is yet to deliver, Moroney has worked hard but “it’s not enough”, Salesa has talent but hasn’t shown it and Henare has had no memorable moments so far.

As for National their deputy ranks ahead of Labour’s leader, showing how important a capable deputy leader is.

No sign of Jacinda Ardern in the top five (nor the bottom ranks). She is rated 5/10:

Has done a good job of corralling the Auckland youth vote. Too close to Grant Robertson to have Deputy Leader aspirations. Didn’t deserve “pretty little thing” comment, but hasn’t exactly mastered her shadow portfolios. Still polled as 4th best preferred PM.

Grant Robertson should be worried about his rating, down from 6.5 to 4.

Floundering in the finance role, with generalised comments exposing his lack of knowledge. Isn’t making the traction he should and is relying on his cronies like David Clark too much to fill in the gaps. Not doing his party any favours.

It’s notable that for a party that puts some importance on gender balance apart from King who seems to be there for her long experience and ability to keep the caucus out of mishief the rest of the top performers are all male.

There’s more gender equality in the bottom perfomers.

It should be a major concern for Labour that their are 9 MPs rated 2-3 out of 10. That’s nearly a third of their caucus. The rest just about all have to make the shadow Cabinet being announced today.

Only 7 Labour MPs rate 5 or better. That’s also a major concern.

Trans-Tasman 2015 MP roll call

Click to access Roll%20Call%202015.pdf

Click to access Roll%20Call%202015.pdf

Trans Tasman: best and worst of National

Stuff reports on Trans Tasman’s annual assessment of political performances in Trans-Tasman roll call – the best and worst of the 2015 political year.

Here are National MP ratings.

National is starting to suffer third termitis, and some of its minister’s are burnt out. That’s the view of transTasman, which has just released its annual roll call, the publication MPs look forward to with equal parts excitement and dread.

National is showing signs of third-termitis and senior ministers like Gerry Brownlee and Murray McCully are looking tired, out of sorts, or burnt out.

“Some are looking to the future – [Speaker] David Carter looks as though he will be pleased to relinquish the Speaker’s chair for a Knighthood and a cushy foreign posting, where he will no longer have to be selectively deaf, while Tim Groser will also be looking forward to an ambassadorial posting”.

Top Five – National

Finance Minister Bill English –  8/10

“A foundation for the Government’s ongoing success. Dependable and canny as always, finally getting the books back into the black, even if only for a short time, has been a big deal for him. The power behind the throne.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully 8/10

“He has been a virtual blur this year, rushing through so many countries and doing so much. Failed to secure Middle East peace though. A strong year for the man, which has ended in a hospital bed. He made a massive effort.”

Prime Minister John Key – 7.5/10

Takes a tumble from last year’s rating of 9.5. His popularity is undented, despite ponytail gate and other controversies…..The flag debate may deflate his ego but he is still far and away New Zealand’s most popular leader.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams – 7.5/10

“We said she would be one to watch and she has added to that impression with strong performances across all her portfolios.”

Trade Minister Tim Groser – 7.5/10

“Another minister who has had a huge year and weathered some storms. He is expected to leave soon for a less pressured environment.”

Bottom five – National

List MP Paul Foster-Bell – 2/10

“Last year we suggested he sharpen up his act. He hasn’t.”

Taranaki MP Barbara Kuriger – 2/10

Says she wants ot help promote regional growth. Her own area is doing well but it’s clear she hasn’t had much impact anywhere else.”

List MP Melissa Lee- 2/10
“Probably should be considering another career. Her bus has well and truly pulled out.”

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith – 2/10

Replaced an MP who was a waste of space, but proving he’s better is tough as well, says transTasman.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, List MP Brett Hudson and List MP Nuk Korako – all on 2.5/10

On Simpson, transTasman says: “Can’t seem to get anyone’s attention outside the committee he chairs”. On Mitchell, they say:  “Another holder of a safe seat. A good example of why we should consider fixed terms for MPs.” Hudson: “We said he would have to prove he is anything more than a lightweight. So far still punching at his expected level.” Korako: A man considered genial by most, who has done nothing to change anyone’s opinion.

I think Bill England has been National’s most consistent and probably most valuable performer.

I don’t know about Murray McCully, he is out of sight most of the time, apart from the Saudi Farm debacle which should have marked him down substantially. He was lucky to survive in his job.

It will be hard for new National back benchers to make an impression amongst such a large caucus.

Trans-Tasman 2015 MP roll call