The House’s Man

Written By: - Date published: 6:50 am, November 11th, 2017 - 60 comments
Categories: accountability, labour, Parliament - Tags: , ,

I’ve long had mixed feelings about Trevor Mallard, but watching his performance as Speaker in his first question time has made it feel very likely that he’s going to be our best Speaker yet. I had expressed cautious optimism at his early statements after the government was formed that indicated he was going to subscribe to a philosophy similar to Lockwood Smith, another member whose reputation was greatly enhanced on becoming speaker and transcending partisanship. This means that we get a speaker from the Labour Party, but not one that views himself as a shield for the Labour Party, and in turn his new deputy, Anne Tolley, has set a similar tone.

For those of you who are not familiar with what the Speaker does, they’re essentially something like the referee of the House of Representatives. They determine who gets to ask how many questions in question time, they are essentially in charge of everything that happens in Parliament, including the disposition of its support budget, and are technically the only person who can technically be directly addressed in the debating chamber, (this is why Parliament has weird rules about using the pronoun “you,” one of the many archaic things about Parliament) and they have something of a judge-like role in issuing Speaker’s Rulings (basically, precedent for Parliament) and interpretting Standing Orders. (rules that govern Parliament)

The Speaker is supposed to be “the House’s man,” (please excuse the gendered term, it’s probably stuck because to my knowledge we have only had three women in the speaker’s chair, and two of those are the new deputy and assistant Speaker from this term) acting for the interests of all of Parliament, but there is as much of a tradition of new speakers being partisan shields to stand between the government and criticism- most commenters at the Standard probably feel David Carter fell firmly into this camp, and National partisans felt equally opposed to Margaret Wilson under the Clark government. The appointment of a fair Speaker is one of the best means of ensuring the government is held to account, hepling to avoid the house getting too noisey or out of control to follow, (a real risk with high tempers on both sides) or becoming overly partisan and having to resort to suspending the usual rules or finding loopholes to get things done, something that New Zealand has really only managed to avoid so far by simply having so few procedural blocks to the Government’s agenda in the first place, at least after we sent the suicide squad to do away with our upper chamber.

This first question time has confirmed that optimism in Mallard’s potential, and delivered even better. Mallard’s initial changes to the rules are excellent, requiring members to be quiet during questions so everyone can hear them, and enforcing this by offering additional supplementaries (or in plain english, “follow-up questions”) to the other side of the house, and following through by awarding multiple questions to the opposition when Labour members were not sufficiently quiet. He still allowed some dodges of questions, but even the best of speakers have rules that allow them to dismiss further questions or points of order by claiming to have sufficiently understood the answer given. This is probably the only area Mallard could improve on thus far- in fact, there are numerous areas he could set useful precedent, such as requiring members to be clear which part of a question they are addressing, something they currently do not have to do. This means that ministers can sometimes pick an “A or B” style dichotomy out of a question, and simply answer “yes” or “no” to the whole thing, an idea that makes a mockery out of holding the government to account.

This offering of extra questions to the side of the house disadvantaged by disorder is a much better enforcement mechanism than trying to shame members or requiring them to leave the chamber, as it’s often seen by your own supporters as something of a Pyrrhic victory to be removed from the debating chamber, as it can enhance the perception that the Speaker is being unfair to your side. Every supplementary, however, is as dangerous as the wit of the member who asks it. (although equally, if the Minister questioned is smarter or simply more confident  This will likely make the house much better behaved, and allow even objectionable questions to be heard by the speaker, and thus immediately be ruled out of order when appropriate.

Mallard has also greatly increased the flow of question time with his new rules, by making his acknowledgement of supplementary questions by the same Member of Parliament non-verbal, ie. a nod. This means that we hear the term “Mr. Speaker” interrupting the flow a lot less during debates, and so there’s no awkward pause as members wait for permission to continue with their line of questioning, (or inconvenient telling-off if they’re too enthusiastic and barge ahead!) but that we do get that formality when we really need it: to identify a new questioner to those who cannot see them in the Gallery, or who are listening to the audio feed.

And while it may be frustrating for those on the left of politics to watch Mallard give the opposition considerable license with his new rules while holding the government to every technicality, to the point of eating one of the Greens’ supplementary questions due to mentioning the former government, it’s very good constitutional practice that will increase the mana of Parliament, and ultimately it will make this a better government. Having higher standards of Government, even a new one, is an excellent way to get them up to speed.

In doing so well at incremental change, Mallard may have dulled some of the calls for more radical reform of Parliament, such as using more everyday language, appointing non-partisan speakers, entrenched laws against abusing urgency to skip select committee hearings, and other methods to slow down legislation to ensure better quality. These are all things that should be considered in Select Committees, or as part of the discussion that is hopefully coming soon when we consider constitutional change and potentially becoming a Republic, as the Prime Minister has indicated we might do soon.

60 comments on “The House’s Man”

  1. Bloody Mallard – Labours bovver boy.

    But hey ! , – lets give him another chance despite his skoolboy knuckle up in the halls of parliament.

    Just don’t bloody do it again , Trevor !

    And you’ll do all right , mate.

  2. Antoine 2

    Who would have thought Tolley would be a good deputy speaker??!

    • ianmac 2.1

      She did let Smith denigrate the Speaker though. Thought that was a No no.

      • Matthew Whitehead 2.1.1

        Deputies and assistant speakers who are new tend to miss things a bit at the beginning. If she catches that stuff in the future I don’t think we need to hold it against her or anything.

    • Anne 2.2

      Actually I’m not surprised. Even during her less than halcyon days as Education minister, I still thought she was better than most. I never saw any signs of the nastiness some of her female ministerial colleagues exhibited on a regular basis.

      Ahhh.. there was an exception. When she sat a group of teachers around a table and proceeded to read them a children’s story. She learned an important lesson from that mistake and didn’t repeat it.

      • red-blooded 2.2.1

        Anne, I was one of the teachers she read a condescending story to – we were the PPTA National Executive, and she was meeting us for the first time. She read a stupid story about an animal that was happier than others because it didn’t ask for too much, but just made do with what it had. We were there to talk to her about important issues – resourcing, NCEA, training and career structures, curriculum development… She had a narrow, top-down vision and a less than subtle way of communicating it (and she could be very nasty).

        Tolley was a dreadful Minister of Education. I’ll reserve judgement about her capabilities as Deputy Speaker.

      • Matthew Whitehead 2.2.2

        Yeah, I think being Speaker or deputy/assistant is a very technical job that actually lends itself well to people with certain skills that don’t present as well when they’re ministers or front-benchers, so you tend to get a few people who you’re like “they’re absolute rubbish as MPs!” that end up as excellent Speakers.

    • veutoviper 2.3

      I agree. I was really surprised at her performance on the very first day – 9 Nov – and commented at 10 on Open Mike that night that I had never had much time for Ms Tolley, but I was quite impressed with her handling of her new role earlier in the session but then had been really impressed with her handling of Jami-Lee Ross and his absolute arrogance and disdain for her authority – and that of the Clerk of the House.

      Here is the link to the video of that exchange (quite short)
      https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=196972

      While she did initially let the vile Nick Smith denigrate Trevor Mallard in the video below, at the end of this video, Shane Jones raised this as a Point of Order and Tolley readily accepted that she should not have done so.

      Don’t watch the full video unless you are a masochist, but skip to about 10.15 mins and watch Jones’ Point of Order and Tolley’s response (about one minute in total).

      https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=196997

      • tracey 2.3.1

        I wonder if the Speaker and Deputy were the ones who arbitrated the Cabinet Manaual if that would work or turn the speaker into a Wilson or Carter (apologissts for current Govt?) What do you think?

        • veutoviper 2.3.1.1

          I don’t really understand your question as it appears to be confusing the roles of the Executive branch of government and the Legislative branch (Parliament).

          The Cabinet Manual is the responsibility of the Cabinet Office within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) as it relates to how the Executive branch of government operates.

          The Cabinet Manual s an authoritative guide to central government decision making for Ministers, their offices, and those working within government. It is also a primary source of information on New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements, as seen through the lens of the executive branch of government. The Cabinet Manual guides Cabinet’s procedure, and is endorsed at the first Cabinet meeting of a new government, to provide for the orderly re-commencement of the business of government.

          https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/our-business-units/cabinet-office/supporting-work-cabinet/cabinet-manual

          The Cabinet Office publishes the Cabinet Manual and reviews and updates it.
          https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/our-business-units/cabinet-office/supporting-work-cabinet/cabinet-manual/publication-information

          Obviously there is some overlap between the work of the Executive and Legislative branches/roles of government – and this is covered in Section 7 of the Cabinet Manual

          https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/our-business-units/cabinet-office/supporting-work-cabinet/cabinet-manual/7-executive-legislation-and

          The role and responsibilities of the Speaker of the House (and Deputy and Assistant Speakers) are very different as detailed in this link.

          https://www.parliament.nz/en/visit-and-learn/how-parliament-works/office-of-the-speaker/role-history-of-the-speaker/role-election-of-the-speaker/

          Standing Orders are the written rules of conduct that govern the business of the House – and are quite separate from the Cabinet Manual.

          The Standing Orders Select Committee and Business Select Committee (both chaired by the Speaker) deal with all procedural matters relating to how Parliament operates and reviewing/updating Standing Orders.

          In other words, IMHO there is really no way that the Speaker of the House (or Deputy etc) should have any role in the contents of the Cabinet Manual; or conversely, the Cabinet Office or DPMC should have any role with regard to Standing Orders of the House.

          • tracey 2.3.1.1.1

            I know that which is why I asked if enforcing it would be better in the Speakers hands rather than the PMs hands. The Speaker is in charge of parliamentary conduct and enforcing of rules in the House so it could be a natural extension to place complaints about Cab Man in their hands. Key was faced by numerous breaches of the personal and professional being required to be of the highest standing and largely ignored it.

            I am asking what you think if this role was changed to have the Speaker the arbiter of complaints of bad behaviour in contravention of the Cab Manual because at present the Cab Manual may as well be invisible)I know that is not possible under current situation but thought you might have a view.

            • veutoviper 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Your original comment/question was very vague and wide-ranging, hence my broad based response.

              Under the Standing Orders, the Speaker has quite a wide range of sanctions available to deal with MPs bad behaviour when in the House and thus acting in their capacity in the Legislative branch of government.

              OTOH the Cabinet Manual is pretty deficient in its provisions for sanctions etc and who can apply these when MPs misbehave etc in their capacity as participants in the Executive branch of government.

              However, I am surprised that you would even suggest that the Speaker become the arbiter of bad behaviour in contravention of the Cabinet Manual “as a natural extension” to the Speaker’s powers re parliamentary conduct and enforcing of rules in the House.

              If as you say, you know and understand the provisions etc I mentioned in my earlier reply, then presumably you also know that the basic constitutional principles and values of NZ law include the separation of powers of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.

              As I mentioned earlier, obviously there is some overlap between the work of the Executive and Legislative branches/roles of government – and this is covered in Section 7 of the Cabinet Manual. This overlap is also recognised in the Separation of Powers principles, but these principles seem to imply that separation be maintained wherever possible.
              http://www.ldac.org.nz/guidelines/lac-revised-guidelines/chapter-3/

              So no, I would not support a change for the Speaker to take over as arbiter of complaints of bad behaviour under the Cabinet Manual – and I doubt that much more expert Constitutional lawyers would either.

              I do think the Cabinet Manual provisions need to be reviewed to be much more explicit as to sanctions etc – and to provide for independent arbitration, review etc of bad behaviour and other breaches of the Cabinet Manual in addition to or in place of the PM. This would need to be also independent of the Judiciary to maintain separation of powers – but possibly retired judges or lawyers could be considered for this role for their legal expertise. And forget the Police for obvious reasons as demonstrated for many ears as well as recently.

              PS – be aware that I studied law but did not complete a degree as I already had a BA and was over studying and exams. Ditto years later I did most of the formal study for a Masters in Public Admin and/or Public Policy (and helped/tutored others studying for these) but did not do final exams as I really did not need them as was well experienced in these areas anyway.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Cabinet Manual provisions need to be reviewed to be much more explicit as to sanctions etc – and to provide for independent arbitration, review etc of bad behaviour and other breaches of the Cabinet Manual in addition to or in place of the PM.

                The judicial arm (of the state) is understandably leery of interfering in Parliamentary affairs.

                Taking power away from the DPMC or Privileges Committee has to give that power to one of the other arms. Unless you’re proposing that we grow a new arm.

                What about making the connection between oath-breaking and perjury more explicit and leaving it up to the cops?

                • veutoviper

                  I am not proposing anything – I was answering a very vague and wide ranging query from Tracey at 2.3.1 initially but because she (semi) then limited what her original query was about, the reply you are referring to was in response to that.

                  I am and was not suggesting that we develop another arm; simply that there could be a case for clarifying/ better specifying the sanctions, processes etc in the Cabinet Manual – as a result of the queries raised by Tracey.

                  As you will note I am not a ‘qualified’ expert – LOL really pleased I did not take those exams! And as a retiree these days, will leave it to the much better experts.

                  So re your last para about making the connection between oath-breaking and perjury more explicit, there is probably a case for doing so – but leave it up to the cops? You have to be joking but don’t quote me as an expert! ROFL. But a good question for Andrew Geddes for example.

                  • veutoviper

                    Sorry – a rushed reply on a Sun night where I have just had a confrontation with a problem neighbour – an ongoing situation. Grrrr.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    As the investigative branch they’re the obvious candidates. Are they equipped to do the job? Unlikely.

                    Who should be equipped instead (of the DPMC and Privileges Committee)?

                    To look at it another way, what about the existing powers of judicial review when facts are ignored?

                    • veutoviper

                      Sorry, I only just found this.

                      Good questions OAG. It is a very complex situation and I am not about to try an off the top of my head response and it would take a reasonable amount of time to research to refresh my memory before giving a considered opinion.

                      I only threw the above together in response to the suggestion that the Speaker (Legislative arm)become arbitrator of MPs’ contravention/bad behaviour vis a vis the Cabinet Manual (applicable to the Executive arm/role) which IMHO would be highly undesirable in view of the separation of powers principles.

                      Separation of powers in respect of the Judicial arm is even more paramount than possibly between the Executive and Legislative branches – and as you said, they are understandably leery of interfering in parliamentary affairs of the Executive and Legislative arms.

                      Re the Police if that is what you are referring to as the investigative arm, they have made it clear for years that they want as little to do as possible with investigating MP bad behaviour etc and they probably are not equipped to do so.

                      Your questions etc would be a good start for a review – but by a team of constitutional lawyers and/or the Law Commission or similar.

  3. roy cartland 3

    In reference to the last bit, can we start a discussion on what we’ll call the leader if we do ditch the monarchy?

    “President” is the usual, go-to term, but it’s boring and used-up, and ultimately duplicitous. Presidents do much more than merely ‘preside’ over an ‘administration’, especially in the US and China. We’ve had or have Governors, PMs, Chiefs; Premiere means something different in Aus, Chancellor is taken. Likewise Chairman/woman, Speaker. Rangatira or Kawana would be good but there must be another Maori term that doesn’t dilute the historical connotations of those.

    It would be a great way to further expound our independent, pioneering identity.

    • Craig H 3.1

      Just call them Boss.

    • Andre 3.2

      In honour of dairying’s importance to New Zealand, I vote for The Big Cheese.

    • rhinocrates 3.3

      How about something very embarrassing so that nobody who simply wants the job for glory and self-aggrandisement runs?

      The Serene Poopy Pants for example.

      • Incognito 3.3.1

        PONZ?

      • patricia bremner 3.3.2

        Even better!! LOL

      • Matthew Whitehead 3.3.3

        That’s actually roughly how President came to be a thing in the first place, as I mention briefly in comment [3.4]. The very humbling and ordinary title took on a lot more mana as it was wielded by American leaders and has transmuted itself into something a little different from its original context of “head of a meeting.”

        • rhinocrates 3.3.3.1

          Hmm, rather like “General Secretary” – a vague title adopted by Stalin.

          • Matthew Whitehead 3.3.3.1.1

            Well, it’s kind of the opposite situation, really. In Washington’s case, he was being humbled by his opponents, in Stalin’s case, he actively wanted to give a veneer of humbleness to himself to discredit criticism of him as a dictator.

    • Matthew Whitehead 3.4

      IMO President is perfectly serviceable as an English-language title, but if we want to give primacy to a Māori one, (not a bad idea) we should use one that’s divorced from traditional Māori leadership structures that don’t work that way- so Rangatira, Ariki, or Kawana are probably all out, and we should probably also add loan word translations to the bin, too. There’s “Tumuaki,” which as I understand it basically means “leader,” “principal,” or “head of an institution,” which is a very good match for President, as it’s become traditional that the title of a leader of a Republic gets a name that implies they’re a very ordinary sort of leader ever since George Washington’s opponents tried to humble him in America by giving him a title that was roughly the equivalent of “chairperson.” Never hurts to keep your head of state humble in a democracy, IMO.

      That said, as a white person, I’d want such a title to be widely endorsed by Māoridom before we started considering it seriously.

  4. Very early days in and 1 dayish on the job. May be a little early to declare anything about mallard yet and I agree that this is a good start. Personally I enjoy the stop start rather than flow method for question time but I also like American footy too.

  5. Tanz 5

    impressed that he gave the Opposition extra questions, due to Labour interjecting.
    It’s going to be fun, as the Opposition madly seek revenge on the MMP govt, not the people’s govt!
    MMP – Mickey Mouse Politics, especially if one believes in true 100 per cent democracy, where the biggest vote share actually wins. Thanks Winston, this Nat voter will never ever trust you again! ‘I will go with the party who wins the most votes’. Yeah, whatever..another broken promise, and one of many.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Losers talk.

      The government represents more people than the opposition. That’s how MMP works, that’s how it’s supposed to work, that’s one of the things that was advertised before we voted for it.

      It was used as an argument against MMP by Peter Shirtcliffe’s mob. So drop the pretence that you’ve been cheated and grow up.

      Or keep whining. Kiwis love a whinger.

      • Muttonbird 5.1.1

        Loser’s talk

        This. The losers are just coming to terms with their loss. Now the clumsy lashing out begins, especially from the particularly stupid ones.

      • srylands 5.1.2

        I think we all understand how MMP works. However it could be modified to work better. Legislate to require the Party that wins the most votes to be in government. That Party would lead negotiations to form a government. If those negotiations fail within a specified time frame there would be another election.

        • KJT 5.1.2.1

          You mean make it like FPP. I thought RWNJ’s were against one party States. Except when it is their party, of course.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.2.2

          Legislate to require the Party that wins the most votes to be in government

          😆

          Why not just be explicit and dispense with proportional representation altogether?

          Or to put it another way, take your minority sophist parasitism and shove it, S Rylands. Go write a report for the NZ Institute.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.3

          So, you want a minority dictatorship because you’re upset that National lost?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.2.4

          …it could be modified to work better.

          That’s why I hope the government will legislate to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission. All of them, especially the no coat-tailing one. I like that one particularly. It’s a very very good recommendation which will have very positive results.

          Let’s do this.

          • Matthew Whitehead 5.1.2.4.1

            The royal commission’s recommendations were centrist, wishy-washy, and don’t go far enough. It’s especially galling that they recommended a huge 4% threshold while also recommending removing the lifeboat provision, effectively meaning that it was “get 4% or don’t get in at all,” a margin that has proven impossible for entirely new parties in the past, and therefore an implicit endorsement of the players in Parliament never changing without existing parties splitting.

            We can do better in terms of improving MMP, and anyone who wants to stop there isn’t serious about making it better IMO.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.2.4.1.1

              The next time the Republican National Party wins the Treasury benches, they are going to legislate to turn their plurality into a majority. They probably won’t try to do it all at once.

              You can hold some more commissions of inquiry, or you can make it more difficult for them.

              • Matthew Whitehead

                It’s possible they will try, I think the thing that bothers them is that voters don’t seem to support it yet, so I expect they’ll try to find some way to do it that doesn’t make it look like they can’t get approval from the electorate for their changes.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2

      As for the Nasty Party ever trusting Winston again, what are they going to do, release his medical records as well as his pension details?

      I like your threats though. Keep making them.

    • Sparky 5.3

      Would you like a hanky? National and Labour are to my mind the main reason we have MMP. Its designed to stop dictatorships, including elected one’s not that its been overly effective in recent years. Still better than the FPP minority dictatorship of the past, if only a little.

      • Anne 5.3.1

        Tanz was very vocal before the election. National was going to win in a landslide – words to that effect. I think this might be her first outing here since the election. Not managing the outcome too well by the looks of it. 😉

    • Mickey Mouse Politics, especially if one believes in true 100 per cent democracy, where the biggest vote share actually wins.

      That’s not true democracy. That’s a minority dictatorship.

      True Democracy is where the policies are defined and voted upon by the people and not some clique in parliament.

    • Matthew Whitehead 5.5

      Winston very carefully did not reiterate that promise in this election period. A lot of media commentary talked about it in the context of ’96, but the time for complaining about how the plurality party vote winner should have some sort of priority in forming a government is IMO well and truly over- we all knew Winston wasn’t doing that this time when he entered simultaneous talks with Labour and National, and I think he was right to move on from that- it was a comment in the country’s first ever MMP campaign and nobody was sure exactly how government formation should work out.

      Have a look through my earlier posts, I explicitly addressed your criticism in an earlier piece. (iirc it was called “Critiquing a Modest National Party Proposal,” or something like that, and its picture is of the Governor General, because it talks about the idea that the GG should direct the parties in order of Party Votes received, to sequentially try and form a Government) The government is legitimate, you don’t have to like the system, but it was formed fairly through it, and your lot need to win a referendum to change the law if you don’t like it, IMO.

      And remember, your lot talked about mandates in the 2014 term, even, when the entire government won less than 50% of the vote. This government clears that threshold.

      As to extra supplementaries- Mallard also deliberately ignored it when opposition members did the same thing, (made what I assume was a joke about being slightly deaf in his left ear) sending a very clear message he intends to hold the government to a higher standard. We should demand this sort of attitude and behaviour from every Speaker IMO, regardless of which lot are in government.

  6. Sparky 6

    I don’t indulge in personal attacks but I will say I dislike Mallard intensely. I can but hope this is his final outing in politics……

  7. Tanz 7

    One good thing, he won’t be Kingmaker in 2020, and National won’t need him.
    NZ First will be under the threshold, as they have lost half their support (nats), and that only leaves Labour, the Greens and Act. Quite likely National will get to govern alone, the electorate doesn’ like having their eleciton result stolen,, and that result is, Nats beat Labour, and easily. Labour got there because of Winnie, not because they won an election. Even now, National are the most popular big party. If Labour did so well, how come Ardern conceded to English on the night that National had the most votes?? Also, John roughan in he Herald today – Labour need to outpoll the Nats to obtain credibility for their govt.

    • Anne 7.1

      Oh dearie me she’s at it again. Some people never learn.

      • marty mars 7.1.1

        It’s one of the best things about that election for me – watching the righties puff and splurt their nonacceptance of reality. So funny from little James and bm to Wayne and tanz here. Loving this – thank you Winnie thank you.

        • joe90 7.1.1.1

          All that, with a special shout out to the sewer denizens losing their shit.

          And Jacinda Ardern.

    • Muttonbird 7.2

      quite likely National will get to govern alone

      I’ve lost count the number of times RWNJs posted this over the last three years. It didn’t happen this time and it won’t happen next time.

    • Oh dear, RWNJ still doesn’t understand MMP and thinks the losers in National won.

      • Muttonbird 7.3.1

        I think these people are jealous of JA going about her PM business on the world stage.

        Previous to this they were relatively quiet but now the Labour led government is visible internationally they have lost their shit big time.

        I’m hoping for many, many posts by our RWNJs in the next three years on how National won the 2017 election. It will be fun.

    • Matthew Whitehead 7.4

      What evidence do you have that National will cruise into power without NZF in 2020? We haven’t had any public polls since the election, and I think you’d have mentioned it if you’ve seen anyone’s internal polling.

      If this is just a “I’ll eat my hat if they’re not” type of personal bet with yourself, you should say so more clearly in the future.

  8. Stunned mullet 8

    I suspect I’ll be as pleasantly surprised by Trevor as I was by Lockwood, the only good and competent speaker there has been in NZ since it started to be broadcast on TV.

    • Matthew Whitehead 8.1

      He’s certainly the only competent one before Mallard in my political memory. 🙂

  9. wekatests 9

    test comment.

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    3 days ago
  • Major boost to support disabled people in sport and recreation
    The Coalition Government has announced an action plan to improve the wellbeing of disabled New Zealanders by addressing inequalities in play, active recreation and sport. The initiative includes training to develop a workforce that understands the needs of children and young people with a range of impairments, advocacy for fit ...
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    3 days ago
  • More prefab homes to be built as red tape cut
    The construction sector is being freed up to allow more homes to be built more quickly as the Government cuts through some of the red tape of the Building Act.  “Every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry, safe home and old inefficiencies in the Building Act make building slow and ...
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    4 days ago
  • Further details of Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit to New Zealand
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed further details on the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to New Zealand next month. Their Royal Highnesses will visit New Zealand from 17-23 November – their third joint visit to New Zealand and first in four years. They arrive in Auckland ...
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    4 days ago
  • O’Connor in Thailand to push for RCEP deal
    Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth and Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, heads to Thailand today to attend the final Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial meeting, as negotiations enter their final stages. “The RCEP Agreement would anchor New Zealand in a regional agreement that covers 16 countries, ...
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    4 days ago
  • Young Pacific people can access earning and learning opportunities in Hawke’s Bay, Otago and South...
    Pacific young people living in the Hawke’s Bay, Southland and Otago regions will have access to support services that have proved successful in helping young people find new earning and learning opportunities. “Tupu Aotearoa is about changing Pacific young peoples’ lives. Our young people are talented, they are smart, they ...
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    4 days ago
  • Protecting wellbeing – ACC HQSC Trauma Forum
    Introduction As the Minister for ACC I thank you all for the work that you do supporting New Zealanders in their literally most vulnerable moments. From those who hold people’s lives in their hands, to the people who research technique, technology and trends, your work is highly valued. A special ...
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    5 days ago
  • NZ economy in good shape – notes prepared for speeches in Christchurch
    Notes prepared for speeches in Christchurch – Wednesday 9 October 2019 Today’s topic, “trends and opportunities for the New Zealand economy,” is certainly one getting a great deal of commentary at the moment. Looking across the media landscape lately you’ll notice we aren’t the only ones having this discussion. There ...
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    5 days ago
  • World Mental Health Day a reminder of the importance of mental health work
    Minister of Health Dr David Clark and Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare say this year’s World Mental Health Day theme is a reminder of why the Government’s work on mental health is so important. “This year the World Federation for Mental Health has made suicide prevention the main theme ...
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    5 days ago
  • Cultural Ministers Meeting
    Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni will represent the government at Australia’s Meeting of Cultural Ministers in Adelaide this week. “This year’s meeting is special because New Zealand is expected to become an International Member of the Meeting of Cultural Ministers at this Australian forum,” Carmel Sepuloni said. “The meeting is an opportunity to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • 608 claims resolved by GCCRS in first year
    The Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service has resolved 608 insurance and EQC claims in its first year in operation, Minister Megan Woods has announced. The government service, which celebrates its first birthday today, provides a one stop shop to help Cantabrians still battling to get their homes repaired or rebuilt ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ economy in good shape
    Today’s topic, “trends and opportunities for the New Zealand economy,” is certainly one getting a great deal of commentary at the moment. Looking across the media landscape lately you’ll notice we aren’t the only ones having this discussion. There has been an increasing amount of attention paid to the outlook ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZTA to refocus on safety following review
    The Government is acting swiftly to strengthen NZTA’s regulatory role following a review into the Transport Agency, and Ministry of Transport’s performance as its monitor, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. An independent review by Martin Jenkins has found NZTA failed to properly regulate the transport sector under the previous ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Joint Cooperation Statement on Climate Change between the Netherlands and New Zealand
    The Netherlands and New Zealand have a long-standing and close relationship based on many shared interests and values. We value the rule of law, our democracies, and multilateralism.  And we value our environment – at home and globally. Right now there are major global challenges in all of these areas – ...
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    6 days ago
  • Government putting right Holidays Act underpayment in Health
    The Government is putting right a decade’s worth of underpayment to nurses, doctors and other health workers, says Health Minister Dr David Clark.  Initial sampling of District Health Boards payroll records has found that around $550-$650 million is owed to DHB staff to comply with the Holidays Act. It’s expected ...
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    6 days ago
  • Government accounts show strong economy
    A strong surplus and low debt show the economy is performing well, and means the Government is in a good position to meet the challenges of global economic uncertainty. “The surplus and low levels of debt show the economy is in good shape. This allows the Government to spend more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Ministers approve application to expand Waihi mine
    New applications from mining company OceanaGold to purchase land in Waihi for new tailings ponds associated with its gold mines have been approved. Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of Finance David Parker considered the applications under the Overseas Investment Act. Earlier this year, applications from OceanaGold to ...
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    7 days ago
  • Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla launches with tribute to tangata whenua
    New Zealanders in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay will witness Māori, Pākehā and Pacific voyaging traditions come together today as the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla assembles for the first time, Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis says. “Tuia 250 is a national commemoration and an opportunity for honest conversations ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Visit to advance trade agenda with Europe and the Commonwealth
    Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker leaves tomorrow for Dubai, London and Berlin for a series of meetings to advance New Zealand’s trade interests.  In Dubai he will visit New Zealand’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 where construction is underway.  There he will meet Minister of State for International Cooperation, Her ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More cancer drugs confirmed – even more on horizon
    Confirmation that PHARMAC will fund two new cancer drugs is further evidence of the good progress the Government is making to improve the treatment of New Zealand’s leading cause of death, Health Minister David Clark says. From 1 December PHARMAC will fund alectinib (Alecensa) for ALK positive advanced non-small cell ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Boost for women in high performance sport
    An additional $2.7 million has been announced for the Government Strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation on the first anniversary of the strategy’s launch. Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson gave the opening address to the first Sport NZ Women + Girls Summit in Wellington today, ...
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    1 week ago
  • Parent support to help retain skilled migrants
    As part of its work to ensure businesses can get the skilled workers they need, the Coalition Government is re-opening and re-setting the Parent Category visa programme, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. The move will: support skilled migrants who help fill New Zealand’s skills gaps by providing a pathway for ...
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    1 week ago
  • Senior NZDF Officer to lead Peacekeeping Mission in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark has today announced Major General Evan Williams of the New Zealand Defence Force has been selected as the commander of a significant, longstanding peacekeeping mission in the Middle East. In December, Major General Williams takes over as Force Commander for the Multinational Force and Observers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Nurses star as Govt rebuilds health workforces
    A record number of nurses are now working to deliver health services to New Zealanders as the Government’s increased funding and new initiatives rebuild key workforces start to show results, Health Minister Dr David Clark says. •    1458 more DHB nurses since the Government took office •    106 more midwives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New agricultural trade envoy appointed
    Farmer and former Nuffield scholar Mel Poulton has been appointed New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, David Parker, and Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, announced today. The position supports key Government objectives, including raising the value of New Zealand agricultural goods and services. Mel is ...
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    1 week ago
  • Pacific and Māori voyaging heritage celebrated for Tuia 250
    New Zealand’s Pacific and Māori voyaging heritage is acknowledged and celebrated today as waka of the Tuia 250 voyage flotilla arrive in Tūranga / Gisborne. “Today we celebrate Tangata Whenua, the first people of Aotearoa, and the triumphs of the voyaging tradition that brought our ancestors here from Polynesia 1000 ...
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    1 week ago
  • Pacific languages are a root from which prosperity will grow
    “Fijian Language Week starts on Sunday and the theme reminds us how important it is that we each have something to anchor ourselves to, something that can help us pause and feel in control in a rapidly changing world,” says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio. “Family, culture, faith, ...
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    1 week ago
  • NZ Government establishes innovative, industry-focused Airspace Integration Trials Programme
    The Government is establishing an Airspace Integration Trials Programme to support the safe testing and development of advanced unmanned aircraft and accelerate their integration into the aviation system, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced today. The Government will work with leading, innovative aviation industry partners to test and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Safety upgrades and certainty for Ōtaki highway
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today welcomed the NZ Transport Agency’s decision to fund urgent safety improvements and confirm the designation of the Ōtaki to North of Levin highway. Safety upgrades will be made along 23.4km of the existing state highway, running along SH1 from the end of the Peka Peka ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Playing our part to support refugees in our region and the world
    New Zealand playing its part in Asia-Pacific and globally are behind changes announced today to the Coalition Government’s three year refugee quota policy, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “We are proud to be a welcoming and inclusive nation committed to supporting some of the world’s most vulnerable people to rebuild ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting thriving inclusive communities
    Creating thriving regions and inclusive local communities is the aim of the Welcoming Communities programme being rolled out across the country, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway today. A successful pilot of the scheme ran over the last 2 years led by Immigration New Zealand and involved ten councils across five regions ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Takahē population flying high
    Takahē may be flightless but their population is flying high with the official count reaching 418 after a record breeding season that produced an estimated 65 juveniles, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. “The population reaching a high of 418 is great news for takahē which were considered ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand makes further climate commitments
    New Zealand is today taking action to reduce the potent global warming hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases, Climate Minister James Shaw and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. “The global agreement to reduce these potent greenhouse gases is another step in New Zealand’s commitment to reduce global warming. It is estimated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago