It is tempting to liken the political hacks of the mainstream news media to piranha, rather than ever-vigilant watchdogs of the Fourth Estate.
With the exception of the NZ Herald, they have lamentably ill-served the voting public by failing to muster a whimper, let alone a snarl or a warning bark, about issues raised by the awarding of contracts to family members of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.
The hacks were aroused from their indifference to those contracts only when another watchdog – the Public Service Commission – announced it is looking into government departments’ management of the contracting process.
On the other hand, the imagery of piranha seems apt when they engage in a feeding frenzy of the sort that followed the hapless Kelvin Davis’ derogatory – and racist – remarks about ACTs Karen Chhour.
Davis told Chhour (a Māori) she must look at things from a Māori perspective, not a Pakeha one.
“It’s no good looking at the world from a vanilla lens.” Continue reading “Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered”
Have all members of Parliament taken the day off, on this Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day?
We ask because there were some objections to the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day Bill, when all stages were passed under urgency into law last Tuesday.
The legislation created a one-off public holiday to mark the end of the 70-year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The holiday is taking place today, the day of New Zealand’s State memorial service for the Queen.
When a party vote was called for on the question that urgency be accorded the Bill, Labour (64 votes); National (33); the Green Party (10) and Gaurav Sharma voted in favour.
ACT (10) and Te Paati Māori (2) voted against. Continue reading ““Voodoo economics” is among Seymour’s objections to public holiday – Waititi’s grouches are rooted in a sovereignty challenge”
MPs from all parties paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II in a special sitting of Parliament yesterday, the proceedings led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The speeches were recorded by Hansard:
ADDRESS TO HIS MAJESTY KING CHARLES III—Condolences on Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Congratulations on Accession to Throne
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I move, That a respectful Address be presented to His Majesty King Charles III to offer our condolences in the loss of our late beloved Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II, and to congratulate His Majesty on his accession to the Throne.
Others who spoke were: Continue reading “Tributes to Queen Elizabeth II from party leaders – now you can read parts of what Rawiri Waititi said”
Opposition parties appear to have thrust the government on to the defensive on inflation and the cost-of-living crisis and are widening the attack to find chinks in the Finance Minister’s armour on his handling of the economy.
They have built a platform for the forthcoming budget debate which will ensure it is not as one-sided as in earlier years of the Ardern government.
Robertson even conceded in Parliament yesterday “we know that New Zealanders are doing it tough as global factors push up the cost of living”.
He quickly added that the government is continuing to support low- and middle-income earners through reductions in their fuel bills and income increases.
For National’s relatively new leadership team, the cost-of- living crisis has been the issue that has allowed them to sharpen the parliamentary skills needed to spearhead their roles in exposing weakness in the government policies. Continue reading “How the Nats are drawing blood by needling the govt on economic issues as living costs surge”
A week ago we wrote about the British PM’s move to check an out-of-control Parliamentary watchdog. It ended in a populist revolt and he sacrificed a former minister, Owen Paterson, to the mob.
This seems to have worked as well for him as it did for Charles II. One of his Tory predecessors, Sir John Major, broke the first rule of party loyalty by branding the government “politically corrupt”. And the opposition started baying for the head of former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox because, as a backbench MP, he had also worked as a barrister and had committed such heinous offences as missing the deadline to register his earnings.
Continue reading “Boris: right idea, wrong execution”
A cornerstone of parliamentary democracy is the concept of privilege – to protect MPs from external influence by ensuring that their actions can be challenged only in parliament (or at the ballot). If you think that the principle is old-fashioned, ask yourself how Russia’s legislature gets on.
While privilege has never been universal in its scope – in the UK or in its legislative outgrowths – a recent twist raises the eyebrow.
Continue reading “Parliamentary privilege ain’t what it used to be”
Parliament, mostly a humdrum affair these days, nevertheless has moments which fascinate long-time aficinados. One such moment came at Question Time yesterday when ACT’s David Seymour was probing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over the “feebate” scheme which the government is introducing to accelerate the introduction of EVs.
The Prime Minister carries such an aura these days that it is not easy to penetrate the wall of omniscience which protects her from criticism.
But as Seymour pursued his line of questioning, she showed a hint of fallibility.
Seymour, with a smile, teased her:
“Is my line of questioning getting under the Prime Minister’s skin?”
Of course he had only to look at Ardern’s face to know that he had.
So Point of Order decided to reproduce from Hansard the exchanges of this unusual event.
It began when Seymour asked whether Ardern stood by her statement that “a large number of those buyers of those vehicles are not using them for the legitimate use?” Continue reading “Seymour nettles the PM with questions about EVs, “feebate”, the Auckland cycle bridge and the disposal of batteries”
Back in March the NZ Herald carried a report headlined “Mallard mess needs sorting”. It was written by Audrey Young, then the political editor.
The Labour Party didn’t heed the warning and now this failure is leaving a bigger mess: on Tuesday night Speaker Trevor Mallard accused a former parliamentary staffer, to whom he had apologised for claiming he was a rapist, of sexual assault.
In the aftermath, National Party leader Judith Collins again called for Mallard to be removed as Speaker of the House, describing his behaviour as a disgrace and contending he was “temperamentally unfit” for the role
Meanwhile Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has boxed herself into a corner. She has expressed “overall” confidence in Mallard as Speaker of the House, so she can’t sack him.
But the longer he stays, the more damage can be done to Labour. Continue reading “Mallard looks like a sitting duck but the Nats may prefer to wait to bag the PM as well”
The Speaker was reprimanded by the PM yesterday, in the aftermath of the furore generated when he accused a former parliamentary staffer – to whom he had previously apologised for claiming he was a rapist – of sexual assault.
Then he was chided by Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer for failing to stop “racist” questions being asked in Parliament.
Other than Hansard, the only account of this attempt to curb MPs’ right to speak freely in Parliament was a Newshub report headed Rawiri Waititi lashes out at ‘Māori bashing’ in Parliament as Jacinda Ardern challenges Judith Collins to say ‘partnership’
But to whom – we wonder – is the Speaker accountable?
To Members of Parliament, we would have thought, because they 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. Continue reading “Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist””
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has drawn attention to a significant constitutional issue regarding our right to be consulted fairly on laws which affect our voting rights.
It’s the suggestion (the union said “disclosure”) that Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahata gave local councils advance notice of her Māori wards legislation and the short time that would be allowed for public submissions.
The Minister had given her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards, union spokesman Jordan Williams contended.
Members of the public, on the other hand, were given just one day’s notice to prepare for “the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”
“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”
This compromising of the process warranted the Speaker reopening the calling of submissions, Williams said. Continue reading “Nick Smith’s fairness questions (were Maori ward supporters given more time?) spark call for reopening of submissions on bill”