Red Alert

Speaker says PM can lie when he is answering a supplementary question

Posted by on August 26th, 2009

Some will remember this post on 4 August:

When John Key told Parliament that he had rigorous costings on the cycleway he was lying. He had none.

His own staff proved him a liar (PDF). Thanks Wayne.

The matter has been refered to Speaker (PDF).

Thanks to Idiot Savant for the legwork.

And here is the response from the Speaker (PDF).

What this means is that Ministers have carte blanche to lie as long as they are not answering a primary question or leading a debate in the house. No referals from a committee stage of a bill.

The ruling is astounding. It means that the only way someone who is not a Minister can get refered to the Privileges Committee is if they lie when making a personal explanation.

The Speaker’s reasoning is unbelievable. Brings the House into disrepute. Almost bad enough to get refered to the Privileges Committee until recently.

16 Responses to “Speaker says PM can lie when he is answering a supplementary question”

  1. Idiot/Savant says:

    A little more information from the Speaker on why it was not a breach would have been useful. For example, did he consider the lie to not be deliberate (under SR 175-1), or simply trivial (under SO 395 (3))?. But that said, I agree – the limitation in the first paragraph does seem to give Ministers an awful lot of leeway to lie with impunity, and that cannot be good.

  2. Geek says:

    You still haven’t proven that Mr Key was Lying. He said that rigorous analysis was done, he never said it was done by tresury. A slight destinction but one that all polititions use. Similar to when you claimed that you didn’t call him a liar in the house but instead said his nose was growing.

    The fact that you set in motion a full investigation probably saved his butt because that distinction does in fact mean you have not proven he is lying. However when you threw a tanty in the house rather than withdraw because of a similar destinction you left the speaker no choice but to eject you.

    You probably would have been better off trying to score points directly off MR Key rather than trying to use this as a way to attack a generally well thought of speaker.

  3. Draco T Bastard says:

    Well, there goes Lockwood Smiths’ reputation as being impartial. There can be no other reason for such a ruling than that he’s protecting JK.

    The logic allows ministers to lie during what I thought was a formal format – question time. It’s the time that NZ gets some answers from their government. Then there’s the implication of it being trivial – yeah, I would have thought that the spending of $50m of taxpayers money would have required some thought – say, a costing. I would also have thought that a supplementary question would hold the same weight
    as a primary question. It’s purpose is the same – to gain information.

    It is not the Speaker’s role to inquire into the validity of the evidence presented.

    Yes it is – he needs to determine the validity of the evidence so as to hold ministers to account.

    This ruling does bring the House in to disrepute. I can see NZ dropping on the least corrupt countries rankings.

  4. Idiot/Savant says:

    Geek: no analysis was done. So the PM’s claim that it was is strictly false, and it simply doesn’t matter who it wasn’t done by.

    But hey, if you want to waste your time quibbling over the meaning of “is”, be my guest. It doesn’t change the fact that the PM’s answer was misleading and strictly false.

  5. Idiot/Savant says:

    Draco: There can be no other reason for such a ruling than that he’s protecting JK.

    Sure there can. As I mentioned, he could have decided the lie was not deliberate, or that it was inconsequential (something which people here would likely disagree on). Sadly, he hasn’t told us which.

    And I agree with the Speaker that it is not their role to assess the evidence. Their role is to decide whether, assuming the evidence is correct, a question of privilege has been raised (SO 395 (1)) and whether it is important enough to bother the House with (SO 395 (2) and (3)). Assessing the evidence and determining whether there has actually been a breach of privilege is the role of the Privileges Committee, not the Speaker.

  6. Dimmocrazy says:

    This only goes to show that it’s about time you guys get some discipline in asking questions. Instead of all these convoluted three-way attempts at point scoring, you should try and keep these things factual and one-issue-only. That might give you a case to pin someone on an answer.

    All you’re doing now is pathetic whining that will impress only those who agree with you in the first place. Grow up, get you act together and try to provide some serious opposition. The government is at the moment dropping plenty of stitches for you guys to score some points and possibly (god forbid) be helpful for a change.

    The Labour party currently looks like a bunch of hyped individuals feverishly pushing their own little wheelbarrows, instead of a club with some sort of common objective. Singing in the bus hasn’t helped getting everybody to sing the same song by the sound of it.

  7. Simon says:

    Dear comrades of the Labour ( offensive deleted Trevor )

    Don’t change!

    Dimmocrazy – !!

  8. bikerkiwi says:

    @Simon – that wins funniest post of the week!

  9. johnbt says:

    bikerkiwi, was it funnier than Labour MPs going on about a polititian not being truthful ?.

    Also, what Dimmocrazy said.

  10. Sean says:

    So, Mr Key mislead the house, has been proven to have mislead the house, and the Speaker has ruled it isn’t a big deal.

    The Speaker’s role is to ensure the quality of the debate in the house in a fair manner. Should the Speaker have decided that it this was a serious incident, what would have happened in the way of reprimand?

  11. Trevor Mallard says:

    Key would have been refered to Privileges Committee for a hearing, and if a contempt was proven then the Committee calls the punishment.

  12. Sean says:

    Thanks Trevor.

    What range of punishment could be ordered?

  13. Sam says:

    I’m enjoying the predictably naive tactics from the right here – when your golden boy and his government are taking every opportunity to cock even the simplest of procedural matters up and clearly treating our democracy with contempt, deflect and project your own insecurities onto the opposition.

    Nine or so months in and you’re already looking desperate – good works guy, keep it up.

  14. bikerkiwi says:

    Bikerkiwi – On Red Alert we try and keep threads a bit tighter than other blogs. Mere mention of a leader does not mean you can vent your spleen in a totally irrelevant and unrelated way about another leader. Please try. Trevor

  15. Geek says:

    If you are going to censor biker Trev you should probably do the same to Sam. Not a single part of his post was on topic. I suppose on a labour site it is OK to just attack right wing supports without ever actually backing it up with an argument.

  16. Trevor Mallard says:

    Geek you are probably right re Sam. He did make an attempt to relate to the thread – albeit marginal. Generally I am harder of the left than the right – not this time – will try and do better.