I have to be honest and say that I am struggling with the rationale. The Greens have decided to give to National their primary questions for oral answer in the house. From Radio New Zealand:
Greens co-leader James Shaw said the deal with National was intended to limit the number of “patsy” questions the government gets from its own MPs and support parties.
Patsy questions are normally phrased in a way that allows ministers answering them to boast about recent policy achievements and other government work.
The move should not be seen as a sign that the Greens were unhappy with the government, Mr Shaw said.
However, question time was a key avenue for the Opposition to interrogate the Government, and patsy questions were a waste of time.
“The purpose of question time is to hold the government to account and patsy questions don’t do that – they crowd out the ability to hold the government to account.”
National Party leader Simon Bridges said he appreciated the move but not too much should be read into the deal.
National was open to working with the Greens in Parliament but he doubted the Greens felt the same, he said.
He was putting more emphasis on environment policy as leader and was happy to work with the Greens on those issues.
Trusting National to advance important environmental issues would be like trusting a fox to guard the henhouse and not eat the chickens.
I cannot see any upside. I agree the Greens are showing they are committed to open democracy and a properly functioning Parliament but surely there are other ways to achieve this.
One option suggested by Laura O’Connor Rapira and others on Twitter was to open the questions up to the public. This would have really shown the Greens are committed to a properly functioning democracy.
Like others have already said, I tend to think the Greens would have been better off surrendering their questions to citizens instead of the Nats. Even better if those questions *had* to come from the 10 percent of people doing it the toughest in this country.
— Laura OC Rapira (@laura_oc_rapira) March 18, 2018
As Jo Moir suggests the decision may have been motivated by concerns at the Greens’ polling slipping. But giving the impression that the party is willing to cooperate with National is not the way to do it. Late suggestions of possible cooperation with National during the 2011 and 2014 elections by the Greens caused their support to also dip.
And as a minimum the Greens could have at least required National to ask them the questions. Otherwise they will have lost the opportunity for patsy questions with the possibility of absolutely no questions at all being asked of their ministers.
I honestly don’t get it. I am happy to be persuaded this is strategically a master stroke but I just can’t see it.