Contempt for democracy

Written By: - Date published: 5:30 am, September 17th, 2009 - 45 comments
Categories: national/act government, Parliament - Tags: ,

Gerry Brownlee in Question Time yesterday. He’s asked a question, just sits there and refuses to answer. Doesn’t even open his mouth, just sits there with a smug look on his face.

Lockwood, out of his depth like always, just ignores the rules to cover Brownlee’s arse.

Only ten months in and this Government is abusing or ignoring democratic checks and balances as it suits them. The arrogance and contempt for democracy are astounding.

45 comments on “Contempt for democracy”

  1. SeaJay 1

    Heh, just mentioned @ Tumucky, the GerBil was taught by his mum not to talk while chewing, and he was obviously chewing it over!

    captcha- answer!

  2. lprent 2

    The speaker is wrong. The question was valid (albeit couched in the usual politically weighted terms). Effectively Brownlee has disrespected the voters that put that MP in the house to ask that question. That is unacceptable in an MP and a trend that needs to be stopped now.

    I’d suggest that MP’s shun and deliberately disrespect Brownlee.

    Talk during his speeches in the house and during his appearances at select committee. Continuously reschedule any appointments that they have with him. Filibuster during any legislation he is associated with. Announce that ANY legislation he is associated with will be rolled back without compensation to affected parties taking advantage of it.

    • Graeme 2.1

      I agree that the Speaker was incorrect, but Eddie’s suggestions that the Speaker ignored the rules and was “out of his depth as always” is laughable.

      Speaker’s Ruling 162/5 states: “It is not obligatory on a Minister to answer a question. It is certainly customary but there is no sufficient reason to say it is binding.”

      However, Lockwood has turned previous rulings on S.O. 377(1) on their head. I doubt that the above Speaker’s Ruling survives. When S.O. 377(1) says “An answer must be given ‘ it should now mean exactly that.

      • Marty G 2.1.1

        So…. Lockwood got it wrong by relying on an outdated rule.

        Also, as you know, there’s a difference in Parliament’s rules between addressing a question and answering it. Brownlee was surely obliged to address the question.

        Can you think of a single example of a minister refusing to say anything before?

        • Graeme 2.1.1.1

          There is a difference between addressing a question and answering one. That difference is irrelevant here. If one accepts that Brownlee was able to refuse to answer the question, he is also able to refuse to address the question.

          As for your second question – not in relation to an oral question. Ministers do often refuse to answer questions put to them in the course of a committee of the whole stage, but that is rather different.

          • Marty G 2.1.1.1.1

            I’m obviously only talking about QT, Graeme.

            And I’m not sure why you think that addressing and answering are synonymous in this case when they aren’t normally in the House.

            Stop making excuses for Brownlee and Lockwood. You know that ministers have to give a response unless they believe it’s not in the public interest to do so (and even then, surely. they have to say it’s not in the public interest as they have in the past). Otherwise, ministers could just sit there whenever they like.

            • Graeme 2.1.1.1.1.1

              What excuse have I made for Brownlee?

              Indeed, what excuse have a made for Lockwood?

              As best as I can figure it, I’m the first person to suggest that the Speaker’s Ruling on which Lockwood (and David Parker and others) were basing their discussion is no longer valid.

              And I don’t think the two are synonymous in this case. I think the acknowledged difference between the two is immaterial in this case. This is different.

              Of course I accept that ministers have to give a response. That’s why I commented here that Lockwood was wrong when he accepted they didn’t have to.

              And this obviously has happened before – not least on the occasion in which Speaker’s Ruling 162/5 was made. I don’t remember that occasion because it was some time ago. I was not closely following the House at the time, and it was some 12 years before I was born.

      • roger nome 2.1.2

        oh that’s just grand then Graeme – who needs accountability in a representitve democracy when you’ve got smarmy plutocrats to treat us like idiots. The arrogance of the right will be their undoing.

  3. Ron 3

    It’s going to be his style isn’t it? I made a comment about his way of dealing with media questions recently. Unelievable arrogance. And once again not a peep fro the timid, Britney obsessed, teenage media. Brownlie’s attitude i AT LEAST as intesting as mp dozing off in thehouse which ued up three or four days of my news space as I recall.

  4. britney 4

    oh puh-lease

    “Brownlee has disrespected the voters that put that MP in the house”

    wake me up when it gets important.

    • Marty G 4.1

      yeah, I agree Britney, f*ck democracy, f* respect for the process and the people who put you there, I love John Key, whatever he and his monkeys do is fine by me because he has a nice grin and make funnies on the telly

  5. britney 5

    yawn, minor spat amongst the monkies in the zoo.

    “disrespected the votas” – gangsta

  6. lukas 6

    It is a bad look from Gerry, I agree, but I would not call it arrogance and would put it down to a series of dense questions. I imagine Gerry was sick of answering the same question put a different way five times, perhaps Turei needs to listen to the “questions” she puts to ministers?

    It is within standing orders for him to not take the call, that is pretty clear. Perhaps standing orders need to change to make members answer questions. Even Eddie would have to admit that Lockwood has been better at getting ministers to answer questions than Speaker Wilson!

    • Marty G 6.1

      surely not the ‘Labour did it too, I railed against it when they did it but because they did it, it’s OK for National to do it’ argument?

      I don’t think the standing orders are at all clear. No other minister has ever just sat there before that anyone can remember, which strongly suggests the rules as used don’t allow for it.

      It doesn’t matter whether the minister judges the question dumb or not, if they think it’s dumb they should just say so. If ministers can choose not to answer a question based on that then they will just not answer any difficult questions.

      • lukas 6.1.1

        “surely not the ‘Labour did it too, I railed against it when they did it but because they did it, it’s OK for National to do it’ argument?”

        No, not at all. I think standing orders need to change to make it compulsory for members to answer (not just address) questions. Gerry, was still within standing orders to not take the call, that is clear. Just because you can not remember it happening before, or because it is an old standing order is irrelevant.

        “It doesn’t matter whether the minister judges the question dumb or not, if they think it’s dumb they should just say so. If ministers can choose not to answer a question based on that then they will just not answer any difficult questions.”

        Sure, for the first four questions you can do that, when it gets to five questions you start getting a bit bored of the alarmist crap that Turei is spouting out.

        • felix 6.1.1.1

          Presumably you know of a standing order or speaker’s ruling which specifies that 4 answers are required but a 5th is not necessary.

          Could you point to it please?

  7. britney 7

    Gerry and Metira up a tree…they’ll be at it like rabbits after a few gins at the backbencher.

    shudder. picture this if you will….

  8. coge 8

    Brownlee did the absolutely right thing. Why on earth should he respond to an emotionally charged diatribe punctuated with third-rate patronizing rhetoric. No answer was his stern reply & good on him. Looked completely honest & sincere to most Kiwis.

    [don’t laugh, you guys, coge actually went around and asked most Kiwis last night. It was a big job, give him some credit]

  9. tc 9

    No surprises at all with GB’s performance and the fact the media ignore all these changes to house rules and the ill deserved protection that govt MP’s get as a result of the ‘rules’ and the powderpuff speaker who couldn’t enforce a booze up in a brewery.
    NACT isn’t operating a democratic process it’s running a corporate spin/PR process where the rules aren’t there as more than a nice coffee table book for those downtime moments.
    It’s 21st century muldoonism…..crosby textor styles…..change the rules, threaten and breach confidence if need be, repeat the slogans, smirk when all else fails as we’re in control so cop it sweet NZ.

  10. toad 10

    The most recent Speaker’s Ruling on this was 162/4 from Speaker Wilson:

    A Minister must give an answer “if it can be given consistently with the public interest’. The Minister is instructed under Standing Order 377(1) to consider the public interest in framing a reply. In considering consistency with the public interest, the Minister may address such principles as privacy, commercial sensitivity, or national security. But, ultimately, the judgment of whether a particular reply is consistent with the public interest is for the Minister to make. It is not a matter for the Speaker to judge. Nor is it a matter for the member asking the question to suggest that because that member considers the matter to be a matter of public interest, the question should be answered in a particular way.

    Note: “A Minister must give an answer…

    Lockwood appears to have overturned that in relying on the much earlier ruling by 162/5 from Speaker Jack:

    It is not obligatory on a Minister to answer a question. It is certainly customary but there is no sufficient reason for saying it is binding.

    and 163/1 from Speaker Harrison:

    A Minister is not obliged to seek the call in answer to a question if the Minister does not intend to answer it. In these circumstances the Minister is treated as having refused to answer. There is no obligation to give reasons for a refusal to answer although it is preferable to do so. To avoid a series of supplementary questions it may be preferable to indicate the refusal to answer on a point of order.

    Of course it is within any Speaker’s prerogative to overturn a previous Speaker’s ruling, as Speaker Wilson did with 162/4. But I would have thought Lockwood should at least have addressed 162/4 in making his ruling or given a reason why he considered the earlier rulings should take precedence.

    • Tigger 10.1

      Thanks Toad. I suspect if Lockwood had any idea what he was doing he would have given an answer but alas, he does not.

  11. britney 11

    Crosby textor, yeah right on, theyll be blackberrying Gerry during question time, not.
    (maybe updating him on big ben pie stocks at the regional shell stations granted)

  12. coge 12

    Where is the groundswell of outrage over this? I would suggest the silent majority of Kiwis either don’t care, or tacitly approve of Brownless response. Maybe Meteria should re-calibrate her questions, as is befitting a party co-leader. With respect, she brought in on herself. However I do accept that she hasn’t been in the co-leaders job long & naturally there will be teething problems.

  13. graham 13

    it was a stupid question and got the correct responce

    • snoozer 13.1

      No, the correct response, as Chris Hipkins says below, is to say ‘that’s a stupid question and I disagree with the premise’. Ministers don’t just get to ignore questions in question time. We might as not have it if they can.

  14. I think in Question Time the general rule should be that ministers give as good as they get. Ask a loaded political question, get a loaded political answer. Ask a straight question, get a straight answer. This seems to be what Lockwood is saying he wants, and I think that’s a fair call.

    Where I have a problem is where opposition MPs ask a straight question with no ‘political’ charge and the minister then answers that, but includes a long rant about the person asking the question. Key tends to do this a lot. That leads to a very one-sided question time.

    I have seen Lockwood shut down ministers when they attack the questioner rather than answer a straight question, but his willingness to do so seems to depend very much on who the minister being questioned is.

    As for Brownlee, he could have avoided all of this simply by standing up and saying “I don’t agree with the assertion put forward in the question’. That would have been that!

  15. felix 15

    Has anyone considered the possibility that he’s still thinking about it?

  16. Daveski 16

    It’s a little odd that anyone would find anything strange about the theatre of parliament.

    As for Brownlee, clearly he could have handled it differently.

    I’m most intrigued as to why Eddie made no mention of the question. Perhaps this explains it:

    But Turei’s questions – which might more accurately be described as political statements masquerading as questions – just kept on coming.

    I think most unbiased people would see the whole political process as a contempt for democracy.

    • felix 16.1

      “Political statements masquerading as questions” are hardly unusual though. The usual response to such is a political statement masquerading as an answer.

      I’m guessing Brownlee wins a bit of a boost from the hardcore Nats who hold the Greens beneath contempt and are still pissed about the MoU.

      • Daveski 16.1.1

        I don’t see Brownlee’s actions as laudable in any way nor should they be celebrated. Just pointing out that it’s hardly the contempt for democracy Eddie is claiming nor does the normal theatre of the absurb that passes for parliamentary process do much for democracy.

  17. burt 17

    A more partisan speaker would have said; The member has answered the question…

  18. ben 18

    Only ten months in and this Government is abusing or ignoring democratic checks and balances as it suits them. The arrogance and contempt for democracy are astounding.

    Oh PLEASE.

    How about we compare National’s not answering the sixth question on some inane topic to Labour’s third term anti-democratic antics?

    It is a horribly unfair comparison, of course.

    Sean Plunkett tore Hodgson a new one on Labour’s treatment of Peters just this morning.

    Yes, Standard folks, the readers of this blog CAN remember 10 months ago, and beyond, and we know rank hypocrisy when we see it.

    No defender of Labour can EVER call anybody else anti-democratic after their despicable behaviour last term. When you do, I’ll be here to remind you.

    • lprent 18.1

      Well I’d disagree about Labour’s last term. More spin from NACT than reality – as I said at the time. The perception of arrogance was more from a siege mentality than actuality.

      But this government is already the most un-democratic and autocratic one that I’ve seen since Douglas and Richardson

      Labour’s bills went through select committees and they didn’t push government legislation through under urgency. This one pushes virtually every government bill of any national importance through urgency and often skips select committees.

      Labour spent long periods of time on consultation on bills (usually too much). This one seems to think that merely asking their paymasters will surfice.

      This government thinks that breaking their election promises is normal. Labour went to great efforts to honour theirs.

      Labour went a long way to ensuring transparency in the political process. This government avoids listening – just look at the attendance of government MP’s at select committees. Explains why their reports from select committee bear no relationship to the submissions.

      This governments ministers don’t front to question time. They send patsy’s instead.. Too gutless to front up.

      etc etc….

      That is the difference between reality and spin.. Unfortunately you cannot distinguish the difference – what kind of a fantasy world does your head live in? Do you see flying pigs as well?

    • felix 18.2

      “anti-democratic antics”

      “despicable behaviour”

      Care to back up those big brave words with some real life examples? Ones that are so horribly, horribly despicable and anti-democratic that “no defender of Labour can EVER call anybody else anti-democratic” once you’ve given them?

      Otherwise it seems like you’re just, you know, talking shit really.

      • George D 18.2.1

        Every time Margaret Wilson ruled that members need only “address” the question, rather than answer it, I was appalled. You’d hardly ever get a straight answer from a minister. I am equally appalled by the same behaviour in this Parliament, it is no better or no worse.

        At least this is obviously not answering the question.

        • felix 18.2.1.1

          As opposed to now, where we get straight answers all the time. Ok then…

        • Draco T Bastard 18.2.1.2

          From what I read, Wilson ruled that ministers needed to answer the question unless they had a damn good reason not to such as Not in the public interest which is quite reasonable. The Speaker now has ruled that ministers don’t need to answer at all.

          • Graeme Edgeler 18.2.1.2.1

            I’m not sure that’s correct. Wilson’s ruling was to essentially restate S.O. 377(1). It was also given in circumstances where a minister had sought to answer a question, so it was directed more at the content of replies rather than whether they needed to be made at all.

            I do believe that given recent re-interpretations of S.O. 377(1) Ministers are required to seek to call to answer all questions, but I’m not sure that Wilson’s ruling assists in reaching this conclusion.

  19. I read on another forum, that in fact he did answer the question over and over again, and got sick of answering the same question, so he stopped.

    • felix 19.1

      If only there were some way of knowing for sure what is said in the house – some sort of official record. And imagine if such a record did exist, it would be even more awesomer to have video and audio recordings to check it against.

      But I’m such a dreamer. I suppose we’ll never know.

  20. Felix:

    I think it is recorded, well most of it, Labour tried to pass a bill that you couldn’t use certain images or sounds or something, which was one of the reasons people got sick and tried of their George W Bush type ignorance.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Time for a breather on immigration
    National has no idea how to house the record number of people entering New Zealand, let alone cope with the pressure on health, education, and transport from this record population growth, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    12 hours ago
  • Labour to invest $4 billion in education
    Labour’s Education Manifesto will bring positive change across the education sector and is backed by a massive investment, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Labour’s plan will see an extra $4 billion invested over the next four years. It’s organised ...
    14 hours ago
  • National’s shame: worst homelessness in the OECD
    National’s legacy is a housing crisis that has given New Zealand the worst homeless rate in the developed world, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    17 hours ago
  • Labour taking action on school donations
    Labour will end so-called voluntary school donations for the majority of parents across the country under its $4 billion plan to revitalise the education sector, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour has always been committed to a world-class free education ...
    20 hours ago
  • Labour to work with Queenstown to build more houses
    Labour will work with Queenstown-Lakes District Council, iwi, and the Community Housing Trust to build the modern, affordable housing Queenstown desperately needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 days ago
  • Nats blow the Budget on motels after bowling state houses
    National is spending $140,000 a day putting homeless families in motels, the legacy of nine years of selling off and knocking down state houses, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 days ago
  • New revelations in Joanne Harrison report
    The State Services Commission’s report into the treatment of whistle-blowers by Joanne Harrison has revealed new accusations against the convicted fraudster, says Labour MP Sue Moroney.  “The report found that four staff inside the Ministry of Transport who had raised ...
    2 days ago
  • Snafu at Princess Margaret
    Jonathan Coleman has to stop the stalling over a new building for mental health services in Christchurch to replace the quake damaged Princess Margaret Hospital, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “The Government must accept that Christchurch is still recovering ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour’s fiscal plan to build a fairer New Zealand
    Labour will re-build our housing, health and education while responsibly managing New Zealand’s finances, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “Under Labour’s Fiscal Plan we will deliver big investments in the services we all need and care about, invest ...
    2 days ago
  • Nats show they’re the tax dodgers’ best friends
    The government is taking the knife to IRD at a time when we need a highly skilled department to ensure that multinationals and speculators don’t get away with dodging tax, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour secures the future for NZ Super
    A Labour Government will secure the future for New Zealand Superannuation so we can continue to provide superannuation to those retiring at age 65, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “One of the first things a Labour-led Government will ...
    3 days ago
  • Multinationals must pay fair share of tax
    A Labour Government will crack down on multinational companies that are dodging paying their fair share of tax, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “New Zealanders are missing out by hundreds of millions according to the IRD because multinational companies can ...
    4 days ago
  • ACT’s approach to children backward and ill informed
    Act’s new deputy leader’s claim that Labour’s support for families could “extend the misery of child poverty and even child abuse” is ill informed and offensive, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury hatchet job a disgrace
    The Government’s glib acceptance of advice that the Canterbury District Health Board doesn’t need more money is a hatchet job and a disgrace, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “To claim that the DHB was using tactics to leverage more ...
    1 week ago
  • Quality for Kiwi kids at ECE
    After more than a decade of rapid growth in the number of children participating in Early Childhood Education (ECE), it’s time to take stock and map out a clear plan for the future, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to boost ECE quality
    Labour will ensure kids get the best start in life by boosting funding for Early Childhood Centres to employ 100 per cent qualified and registered teachers, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will stump up a million dollars for Maniototo Hospital
    A Labour led Government will make a million dollars available to rebuild the Maniototo Base hospital in Ranfurly, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “This will be a much needed boost for a long overdue rebuild that has ...
    1 week ago
  • No vision for the West Coast
    The West Coast welcomes any Government investment in our region but the lack of any real alternative vision for the West Coast’s economy is disappointing, says Damien O’Connor Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP.  “The establishment of a Mining Research Unit will ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s youth work scheme too little too late
    After nine years, National’s belated attempt to provide work opportunities for unemployed youth should be seen for what it is, a half-hearted, election gimmick from a party that’s ignored the problem till now, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Kiwis won’t fall for Joyce’s spin
    Steven Joyce’s embarrassingly obvious spin on Labour’s Families Package won’t fool anyone, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour prioritises families and public services
    Labour’s Families Package delivers a bigger income boost to more than 70 per cent of families with children than Budget 2017. By not spending $1.5 billion a year on tax cuts, Labour is able to do more for lower and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis can’t sleep in your ghost houses, Nick
    The Government’s housing infrastructure announcement is another Nick Smith special – over-promising with no detail on delivery, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour helps older New Zealanders and low income families with winter heating bills
    Labour will further boost its commitment to warm, healthy housing with a Winter Energy Payment for superannuitants and people receiving main benefits, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Everyone deserves a warm, healthy home to live in. But that’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must rule out retrospective override for Ruataniwha
    National must categorically rule out using retrospective legislation to override the Supreme Court’s decision that the land swap of conservation land flooded by the proposed Ruataniwha Dam was illegal, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney General David Parker. “Having not got their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flavell’s failure a win for Māori landowners
    The Māori Development Minister’s admission that his unpopular Ture Whenua Māori Bill won’t pass into law prior to the election is a victory for Māori landowners, but only a change of government will keep the Bill gone for good, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stats confirm growing housing shortfall
    National’s failure to fix the housing shortage has been starkly illustrated by new statistics, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Systemic abuse of kids in state care
    After admitting there was systemic abuse of children in State care the Government must do the right thing and launch an independent inquiry, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Migrant worker exploitation needs sharper focus
    The astonishing number of employers found guilty of exploiting migrants shows that migrant exploitation is a serious problem in New Zealand, says Labour Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “A total of 53 companies have been banned from recruiting ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister faces questions over dam debacle
    Today’s Supreme Court ruling dismissing an appeal to allow a land swap for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam is a victory for our conservation estate and Hawke’s Bay ratepayers, but leaves the Conservation Minister with serious questions to answer, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too little too late on Wellington housing
    The announcement today on social housing in Wellington by the National Government is a pitiful and cynical election ploy, says Labour’s Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson. “In 2012 Housing New Zealand emptied out the Gordon Wilson Flats, taking 130 places ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Foreign trusts wilt in the sunlight, but more transparency needed
    The fact that the numbers of foreign trusts registered in New Zealand has plummeted after the Government’s belated and reluctant imposition of a new reporting regime, in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, shows the need for a transparent, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech by Grant Robertson: The Future of Work and Labour’s Economic Vision
    At the election in September voters will face a choice between a government led by Andrew Little with a fresh approach to give every New Zealander a fair share in prosperity or the continuation of a tired government, out of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Swimmable Rivers Tour: Waikato
    Last week, we rolled up to the mighty Waikato on the final day of our swimmable rivers tour. Co-Leader James Shaw, Denise Roche MP and I started our day in Horotiu where the primary school has been focussing on the ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    3 weeks ago
  • Nats’ failure to train young people contributes to housing stall
    Budget documents forecast that housing construction will stall in the coming year, despite the massive housing shortage, and National’s failure to train young people in building trades is partly to blame, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago