Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered

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”

“Voodoo economics” is among Seymour’s objections to public holiday – Waititi’s grouches are rooted in a sovereignty challenge

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”

Tributes to Queen Elizabeth II from party leaders – now you can read parts of what Rawiri Waititi said

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”

How the Nats are drawing blood by needling the govt on economic issues as living costs surge

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”

Boris: right idea, wrong execution

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”

Parliamentary privilege ain’t what it used to be

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”

Seymour nettles the PM with questions about EVs, “feebate”, the Auckland cycle bridge and the disposal of batteries

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”

Mallard looks like a sitting duck but the Nats may prefer to wait to bag the PM as well

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”

Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist”

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””

Nick Smith’s fairness questions (were Maori ward supporters given more time?) spark call for reopening of submissions on bill

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.”

Williams insisted:

“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”