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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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    2 days ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
    The Government is on the verge of reaching its target of state sector boards and committees made up of at least 50 percent women, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. For the first time, the Government stocktake measures the number of Māori, ...
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    2 days ago
  • New appointments to the Commerce Commission
    The Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister and Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister, Kris Faafoi, has today announced the appointment of Tristan Gilbertson as the new Telecommunications Commissioner and member of the Commerce Commission. “Mr Gilbertson has considerable experience in the telecommunications industry and a strong reputation amongst his peers,” ...
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    2 days ago
  • Historic pay equity settlement imminent for teacher aides
    The Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa have agreed to settle the pay equity claim for teacher aides, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. This will see more than 22,000 teacher aides, mostly women, being valued and paid fairly for the work they do. “Teacher aides are frontline ...
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    2 days ago
  • Govt delivers security for construction subcontractors
    Subcontractors will have greater certainty, more cashflow support and job security with new changes to retention payments under the Construction Contracts Act says Minister for Building and Construction, Jenny Salesa. A recent review of the retentions money regime showed that most of the building and construction sector is complying with ...
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    2 days ago
  • New Zealand and Singapore reaffirm ties
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have marked the first anniversary of the New Zealand-Singapore Enhanced Partnership with a virtual Leaders’ Meeting today. The Enhanced Partnership, signed on 17 May 2019, provides the framework for cooperation across the four main areas of trade, defence and ...
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    2 days ago
  • JOINT STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTERS OF NEW ZEALAND AND THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE ON THE FIRST AN...
    On 17 May 2019, New Zealand and Singapore established an Enhanced Partnership to elevate our relations. The Enhanced Partnership – based on the four pillars of trade and economics, security and defence, science, technology and innovation, and people-to-people links – has seen the long-standing relationship between our countries strengthen over the ...
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    2 days ago
  • Government investment supports the acquisition of new Interislander ferries
    State-Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters has welcomed KiwiRail’s announcement that it is seeking a preferred shipyard to build two new rail-enabled ferries for the Cook Strait crossing. “This Government is committed to restoring rail to its rightful place in New Zealand. Bigger, better ships, with new technology are yet another ...
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    3 days ago
  • Better protection for seabirds
    Better protection for seabirds is being put in place with a new National Plan of Action to reduce fishing-related captures, Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.   The National Plan of Action for Seabirds 2020 outlines our commitment to reduce fishing-related captures and associated seabird ...
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    3 days ago
  • Milestone in cash flow support to SMEs
    Almost $1 billion in interest-free loans for small businesses More than 55,000 businesses have applied; 95% approved Average loan approx. $17,300 90% of applications from firms with ten or fewer staff A wide cross-section of businesses have applied, the most common are the construction industry, accommodation providers, professional firms, and ...
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    3 days ago
  • Government protects kids as smoking in cars ban becomes law
    Thousands of children will have healthier lungs after the Government’s ban on smoking in cars with kids becomes law, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa. This comes after the third reading of Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Bill earlier today. “This law makes it ...
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    3 days ago
  • Parliament returns to a safe normal
    The special Epidemic Response Committee (ERC) has successfully concluded its role, Leader of the House Chris Hipkins said today. The committee was set up on 25 March by the agreement of Parliament to scrutinise the Government and its actions while keeping people safe during levels 4 and 3 of lockdown. ...
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    3 days ago
  • Foreign Minister makes four diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced four diplomatic appointments: New Zealand’s Ambassador to Belgium, High Commissioners to Nauru and Niue, and Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism. “As the world seeks to manage and then recover from COVID-19, our diplomatic and trade networks are more important than ever,” Mr Peters said. “The ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Bill to counter violent extremism online
    New Zealanders will be better protected from online harm through a Bill introduced to Parliament today, says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin. “The internet brings many benefits to society but can also be used as a weapon to spread harmful and illegal content and that is what this legislation targets,” ...
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    4 days ago
  • Mycoplasma bovis eradication reaches two year milestone in good shape
    New Zealand’s world-first plan to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is on track the latest technical data shows, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “Two years ago the Government, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand and industry partners made a bold decision to go hard and commit ...
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    4 days ago
  • New payment to support Kiwis through COVID
    Further support for New Zealanders affected by 1-in-100 year global economic shock 12-week payment will support people searching for new work or retraining Work programme on employment insurance to support workers and businesses The Government today announced a new temporary payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due ...
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    5 days ago
  • PGF reset helps regional economies
    The Provincial Growth Fund will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-COVID-19 recovery by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The funding is comprised of repurposed Provincial Growth ...
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    6 days ago
  • Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents
    Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector to fire back up quicker ...
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    6 days ago
  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has reacted with concern at the introduction of legislation in China’s National People’s Congress relating to national security in Hong Kong.  “We have a strong interest in seeing confidence maintained in the ‘one country, two systems’ principle under which Hong ...
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    7 days ago
  • Samoa Language Week theme is perfect for the post-COVID-19 journey
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, says the theme for the 2020 Samoa Language Week is a perfect fit for helping our Pacific communities cope with the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, and to prepare now for the journey ahead as New Zealand focuses on recovery plans and rebuilding New ...
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    7 days ago
  • Adult kakī/black stilt numbers soar
    A nearly 40-year programme to protect one of New Zealand’s most critically endangered birds is paying off, with a record number of adult kakī/black stilt recently recorded living in the wild, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. “Thanks to the team effort involved in the Department of Conservation’s ...
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    7 days ago
  • Waikato-Tainui settlement story launched on 25th anniversary of Treaty signing
    The story of the Waikato-Tainui Treaty process and its enduring impact on the community is being told with a five-part web story launched today on the 25th anniversary of settlement, announced Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “I am grateful to Waikato-Tainui for allowing us to help capture ...
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    1 week ago
  • Taita College to benefit from $32 million school redevelopment
    Taita College in the Hutt Valley will be redeveloped to upgrade its ageing classrooms and leaky roofs, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. “The work is long overdue and will make a lasting difference to the school for generations to come,” Chris Hipkins said. “Too many of our schools are ...
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    1 week ago
  • Redeployment for workers in hard-hit regions
    The Government is allocating $36.72 million to projects in regions hard hit economically by COVID-19 to keep people working, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Projects in Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Rotorua and Queenstown will be funded from the Government’s $100 million worker ...
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    1 week ago
  • $35m to build financial resilience for New Zealanders
    A $35m boost to financial capability service providers funded by MSD will help New Zealanders manage their money better both day to day and through periods of financial difficulty, announced Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “It’s always been our position to increase support to key groups experiencing or at risk ...
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    1 week ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
    Dunedin barrister Melinda Broek has been appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Rotorua, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. Ms Broek has iwi affiliations to Ngai Tai. She commenced her employment in 1996 with Scholefield Cockroft Lloyd in Invercargill specialising in family and ...
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    1 week ago
  • $206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base
    The Coalition Government has approved a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, with the first phase starting later this year, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. The investment will be made in three phases over five years, and ...
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    1 week ago
  • Review of CAA organisational culture released
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today released the Ministry of Transport’s review of the organisational culture at the Civil Aviation Authority. Phil Twyford says all employees are entitled to a safe work environment. “I commissioned this independent review due to the concerns I had about the culture within the CAA, and ...
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    1 week ago
  • New Board appointed at Stats NZ
    Ensuring that Stats NZ’s direction and strategy best supports government policy decisions will be a key focus for a new Governance Advisory Board announced today by the Minister for Statistics, James Shaw. The new Governance Advisory Board will provide strategic advice to Stats NZ to ensure it is meeting New ...
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    1 week ago
  • New Principal Environment Judge
    Environment Judge David Kirkpatrick of Auckland has been appointed as the Principal Environment Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  Judge Kirkpatrick was appointed an Environment Judge in February 2014. From December 2013 to July 2016 he was Chair of the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel. Prior to appointment he ...
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    1 week ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
    A programme to connect marae around the country to the internet has received $1.4 million to expand to include urban marae in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. The funding for the Marae Connectivity Programme ...
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    1 week ago
  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
    The Government will provide $500,000 to the Hawke’s Bay Mayoral Drought Relief Fund to help farmers facing one of the worst droughts in living memory, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from Hawke's Bay's five local Government leaders asking me to contribute to the Fund. ...
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    1 week ago
  • Investment in New Zealand’s history
    Budget 2020 provides a major investment in New Zealand’s documentary heritage sector, with a commitment to leasing a new Archives Wellington facility and an increase in funding for Archives and National Library work. “Last year I released plans for a new Archives Wellington building – a purpose-built facility physically connected ...
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    1 week ago