Red Alert

Question watch #1

Posted by on December 21st, 2009

On the 8th of December I lodged a number of Written Parliamentary Questions to John Key in his capacity as Minister Reponsible for Ministerial Services. They all involved spending on services provided to ministers (eg. self-drive cars, VIP cars, ministerial housing etc). I had assumed that given the “Double Dipton” debacle they’d be keen to be seen as open and transparent.

So far John Key has replied to all of them with the same answer: “I am unable to provide the member with the information requested in the timeframe available. I will provide the member with the answer as soon as possible.”

All of the questions were lodged on the 8th of December, so he’s already had several weeks. In almost all cases there are examples of similar questions having been asked of Helen Clark in the past. I’m sure John Key isn’t going to argue that he should be subject to a lower standard of accountability than his predecessor, so I’ll look forward to getting his answers before he takes off for his holiday in Hawaii.


38 Responses to “Question watch #1”

  1. Spud says:

    Good work :-)

  2. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    Isnt it how these things work that the requests are sent to the department who then reply with a draft and AWAIT the Ministers signoff.

  3. n0exit says:

    Don’t worry Chris, he’s relaxed about it and you should be too…..

  4. Luke says:

    “All of the questions were lodged on the 8th of December, so he’s already had several weeks.”

    I suggest you ask Santa for a calendar. The 8th of December is two weeks ago tomorrow, hardly “several weeks” now is it?

  5. Kiwireader says:

    Beat me to it Luke! Not that I wouldn’t expect that sort of blatant exaggeration from an opposition politician though…

  6. [...] MP Chris Hipkins blogs: On the 8th of December I lodged a number of Written Parliamentary Questions to John Key in his [...]

  7. Joely Doe says:

    Busted over at Kiwiblog!! Gee, David is quick, isn’t he?

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2009/12/author_of_own_misfortune.html

    (Guess this won’t make it through moderation)

  8. Gus` says:

    Thats not a good look for them. How many questions did you submit ?

  9. dave says:

    Gus that’s a good question. Chris didn’t really want to reveal that.

  10. peteremcc says:

    Never mind that those 12 days include two weekends, making it 8 working days since they were lodged.

    As Farrar says, Numeracy standards anyone?

  11. Mel Barker says:

    chris did you really ask as many questions in december as National asked helen in three years and expect an answer immediately? have you really got nothing better to do?

  12. Doug says:

    Chris do you really think this is clever Politics. If the answer is yes, being an MP has twisted your brain. I feel sorry for you.

  13. @Luke – fair call, although when I worked in the Beehive it was not unusual to get a couple of hundred questions in a week and still get them all answered.

    As for the argument that Key should pack a sad because I am making him do some work, his department is used to providing the sort of information I’ve asked for.

    In some cases they will have provided similar information to select committees as part of the financial review process, so it shouldn’t be too hard for them to track it down.

  14. David says:

    As an “elected” representative do you not have more important things to do with your time. You could end up being the poster boy for a return to FPP.
    How many written questions have you asked this year ?

  15. @David – I’ve asked quite a few, and I actually think that holding the government to account is an important thing for an opposition MP to do. I’m not the biggest asker of questions in the current parliament and I’m still well short of the 5,000+ one particular Nat asked in the last parliament’s term.

  16. MikeNZ says:

    Chris
    You have essentially lied by not explaining that you have asked 128 multi/part questions in the month before Christmas when Helen was asked 150 in 3 years.

    That your post is intended to make Key look crooked shows a complete lack of integrity by you.
    If that truly is going to be your modus operendi we don’t need you in parliament.

    Pointing to others as you have in response to being outed shows a lack of character.

  17. David says:

    I agree in holding them to account but 128 questions ! It just sounds obsessive and quite scary.

  18. MikeNZ says:

    Chris
    On your website you mention your values in your speech to the constituency.
    Do they include Lying?

  19. David says:

    Who was the Nat ?

  20. @Gus – within the last month I’ve asked John Key as Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services 67 questions. In the context of the 5,312 questions various MPs have asked of all ministers during the same period, I hardly think Key can claim he’s over-worked!

  21. Mel Barker says:

    looks like your going on a fishing contest chris a bit of a waste really. use your holidays to get back in touch with the people who voted for you and stop wasting time on wellington things nobody cares about, please

  22. @David – If you’re genuinely interested, you can do a search yourself for any MP or Minister during the current and previous two parliaments: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QWA/

    I was referring to Peachey in my earlier comment.

  23. Doug says:

    I’m still well short of the 5,000+ one particular Nat asked in the last parliament’s term.

    Speaker Margret Wilson was such a partisan hack not many questions got answered.

  24. MikeNZ says:

    Chris
    I am not going to go away, I have had enough with lying and distasteful behavior with MP’s.
    This country needs honest leaders and your answering David and ignoring mine is unacceptable form a public official..

  25. mjwkiwi says:

    David, MPs often ask quite a number of questions at once, which try to explore all the angles. If they don’t do it like that, they end up getting narrow answers that are meaningless. So if you want to know one particular thing, often you have to ask ten questions, to get an answer that isn’t hedged with conditions.

  26. MikeNZ says:

    Chris
    Do you not understand that if you save the page to file you get all the responses including those awaiting moderation in the snapshot.

    Please answer my question or would you prefer I come to a public meeting with printouts of this blog entry for everyone there?

    Please explain why you lied by deliberately by omitting data to make Key look dodgy?

  27. David says:

    Thanks Chris

  28. MikeNZ says:

    Chris
    As a member of the house you are bound to not bring it into disrepute.
    By deliberately lying do you not think that is what you have done?
    If I have no suitable response from you then I must go to a third party to get satisfaction.
    Who should that be?
    Your parliamentary leader?
    The Speaker?

    Do you really think your example is acceptable for anyone (including young people and school kids) who has internet access?

    Is this what the Labour party set up red alert for? For MP’s to deliberately lie in a public forum?

  29. @MikeNZ – sorry, I hadn’t checked the comments held for moderation so missed yours until you emailed me. I think I’ve responded to the assertions in your comments with my earlier comments above.

  30. dave says:

    Chris, how cone you are asking things of ministers that are freely available by looking on the Internet? Wouldn’t it be quicker just having a look yourself? for example your last question lodged included” What is the maximum Rates Rebate available in the current financial year”. Next question” What has been the maximum rebate available through the Rates Rebate scheme in each of the last five years?”

  31. @dave – where the info is already publicly available ministers will sometimes just provide a web link. I’m fine with that.

  32. Nicola Wood says:

    To all interested I would suggest having a read through the Questions for Written Answer from the previous Parliament when Labour was in Government: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QWA/Default.htm?search=384989955

    The same sort of questions were asked of Labour ministers in similar volumes.

  33. Inventory2 says:

    Perhaps Chris ought to reflect on the words of his former leader – “Nothing to see here; move on”. He appears to be chasing shadows, and making a pretty poor job of it.

    Hyperbole is one thing Chris, but at the very least you should amend the “several weeks” comment which you have been rightly called on. Your post would have more merit if it were factually correct.

  34. Monty says:

    Seems to me Chris you have scored a major own goal on this issue. The criticisms here and at Kiwiblog are reasonable. Your attempts to make Our Prime Minister look bad / lazy have mis-fired and except for the likes of Spud we all are seeing through your nuisance questions.

    Can you please explain the gist of your questions and what you are trying to achieve?

  35. Kezia says:

    The whole purpose of Opposition is to hold the Government accountable for their actions. Asking questions of Ministers is an important part of that, so Labour should really be congratulated for what they’re doing. Conversely, being accountable for their actions looks like something the current Government needs to work on…

  36. Spud says:

    @M, onty – I just think he’s doing his job! It’s good that he’s earning his keep. :-D I hope you get your answers Chris. :-D

  37. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    Some people dont like your job description Chris, especially the part that says ‘opposition’.
    But is John Key on holiday allready ?

  38. @Monty – I’ll post the info from Key when he finally gives it to me. Then readers here can judge whether or not they were fair questions to ask.