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Informed debate from Jonathan Coleman

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, November 10th, 2010 - 21 comments
Categories: Parliament - Tags:

Yesterday, Jonathan Coleman was handed the job of doing the introductory speech on the Taxation (International Investment and Remedial Matters) Bill 2010. Coleman was reading from a prepared speech that someone had handed him, and it was the wrong speech for the wrong Bill. Coleman, without seeming to realise anything was amiss, proceeded to repeat verbatim a speech Peter Dunne gave a year ago for the Taxation (International Taxation, Life Insurance, and Remedial Matters) Bill.

Here’s a Minister of the Crown, introducing a Bill to Parliament and he knows so little about the issue that he is meant to be championing that he doesn’t even realise he’s talking about the wrong piece of legislation. In the video, you can hear Labour MPs yelling out to him that he’s talking about the wrong Bill, but he just raises his voice over the top of them.

In his speech, Stuart Nash asked Coleman to point out the clauses in the current Bill that he had just spent ten minutes talking about. Of course, they don’t exist in that Bill, they were passed a year and a half ago. Nash speculated that the ambitious Craig Foss might have been behind embarrassing his colleague.

It’s pretty funny to laugh at Coleman making a tit of himself but there’s a serious side too.

I’m pretty sure that in the UK MPs aren’t allowed to just read out prepared speeches, and I think that used to be the case here too. Obviously, MPs need notes but what’s the point in us paying Jonathan Coleman quarter of a million dollars a year to mindless repeat what is written down on a piece of paper in front of him? It makes a mockery of the institution of Parliament when the responsible minister is so disengaged that he doesn’t even realise he is reading a speech about a different Bill than the one he is asking Parliament to pass. It’s basically contemptuous of the democratic Parliamentary process.

I’ve been thinking for some time that the debating speeches in passing Bills need some reform to make them more than just hot air, which they are the vast bulk of the time. How much value are we, the voters and taxpayers, getting from a process that allows a minister to yammer on for ten minutes about the wrong law?

21 comments on “Informed debate from Jonathan Coleman”

  1. MikeG 1

    You’re right Eddie about MP’s previously not being allowed to read their speeches. I’m not sure when that rule was changed, but I do remember back in the early 80’s (I think) hearing an injection “but he’s reading his speech”. It does make a mockery of the process, but National have been doing that all this term with their rush to urgency etc. etc.

  2. freedom 2

    how else would they know what to say?

    capcha: digit
    the middle one they have raised at the corpse of democracy

    • Ari 2.1

      Thankyou for that second sentence, I almost thought you were being serious 😉 Such is the calibre of our debate outside of parliament, too. 🙁

  3. lprent 3

    I (very very quickly) added an appropriate thumbnail to the post…

    • freedom 3.1

      it was a fine choice, remarkable similarity

      pity it has now dissapeared ! seriously, i just was on the front page and it is gone
      later addition:
      and now its back, wierd

      • lprent 3.1.1

        I had some more time (waiting for a long cross-compile), so I cleaned more of the background off to give a less fuzzy image.

        • freedom

          i have no idea what a cross-compile is but it sounds important,
          i was just happy to know the Ass i saw wasn’t an acid flashback.

    • felix 3.2

      Great choice of pic, Lynn.

  4. Lew 4

    Best witticism on this is from David Slack, who hopes someone hands him a Churchill speech or some Jay-Z lyrics next time. My pick would be Savage, or maybe King. Or “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” would be pretty apt. We can all wish.


  5. freedom 5

    i have some TOOL lyrics that would be productive, they get a nice cake at the end and raise lots of hysteria in the meantime, or something really controversial for a Member of Parliament, they could read something that wasn’t a complete F’N lie created by backroom PR whores

    but i digress, at least he read from his own party’s files,
    whoops, wrong again

    was he at least wearing pants?

  6. Richard 6

    I agree that the debating speeches need to be reformed.

    At the moment they are not a debate. Nobody makes up their mind about anything on the basis of them. It is just a bit of barely relevant, barely questioned, hardly reported, waffle to either justify or attack a position.

    Perhaps, what is needed is for the media to give much more air-time to precisely what is said in debating speeches. If the media spent some time analysing debating speeches and analysing whether what parties say in this speeches correlate in any way with how they vote, or what the bills actually do, then we might see a bit of improvement.

  7. Gotham 7

    Actually, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the rule was officially changed that banned reading speeches in the House, though it had been commonly ignored well before then. Certainly the first parliamentarians through to the early decades of the 20th century presented without reading speeches – they prided themselves on their skills of oratory.

    But it had a lot to do with the transformation of oral to print culture as it did the gradual watering down of rhetoric skill.

    • freedom 7.1

      combined with the rapidly increased influence of PR firms, Lobby groups and Corporate candidates

  8. SHG 8

    I don’t know what depresses me more. That shit like this happens, or that the Opposition thought it was more important that Pete Hodgson sling mud about Pansy Wong’s job description.

  9. Rharn 9

    The fact that Coleman did not ‘know’ what he was on about is symptomatic of the ministers of this government. Tolley and Brownly spring to mind, that’s not forgetting our PM of course. .e i. President Clinton etc

  10. Craig Glen Eden 10

    This whole speech sums up National in Government just going through the motions totally unaware and with no insight to the issues that are before them.

    Coleman what a tool and of coarse lets not forget it was Coleman who was Melissa Lees minder in the Mt Albert bye election. Hmmm on the positive side at least he is not seeing patients in his current role.

  11. RobertM 11

    In many ways its a small comfort that someone like Dr Coleman can still get through medical school. He would be entirely in place in the Doctor in the House , British Tv dramas , NZ used to watch five years late in the l970’s.
    But in the speeches that Dr Coleman actually writes for himself ( which are usually quickly erased from Nat Party sites) its the usual hard line facism of the medical profession- Doctor always right, patients never,psych patients, no hope and no rights.He recommends supervision and basket weaving. Bastard. Its the usual born to decide and determine arrogance of virutally every doctor, but in Coleman its so blatant. He should join Act or worse immediately.
    Shocking, but I liked the cigar. Like me he’s so arrogant. And no, I don’t smoke.

  12. The Dreadnaught 12

    Ah, Coleman. There’s no cabinet minister more likeable than him.

    As a former Northcote Point resident, I had the priveledge of having Dr Coleman as my MP! How lucky for me! Even more lucky was when National won the election in 2008 and Dr Dudley Do-Nothing was promoted from opposition schmuck to multiple portfolio holder! Talk about luck – all he did to win his MMP seat in the 2008 election was distribute flyers with photos of him photoshoped in standing with Donkey (and, naturally, photoshoping his hair from ginger to brown – nobody likes a ginger), so he could look as much like Donkey as possible!

    Even more lucky than Coleman was his house in Northcote Point – it got super lucky! When National won the election, Coleman’s house underwent miraculous rennovations; the sort that would put most “Grand Design”-ers to shame – anyone would think he came into a lot of money on election night…

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