Red Alert

Will Key ever answer questions?

Posted by on February 9th, 2010

Parliament resumes today after the summer recess. Hopefully that will prompt John Key to finally stump up with answers to the Written Parliamentary Questions I put to him before Christmas. I asked him 67 questions late last year. In all cases he said he couldn’t give me an answer within the 6 days required by the written questions system, but he assured me I’d get the information as soon as possible.

It’s now 8 weeks since I asked the questions, but alas no answers have arrived. The questions were legitimate questions asking him to account for the spending of his ministers at a time when they were telling us all to tighten our belts.

We saw last year that National Ministers do not practice what they preach on fiscal responsibility and the public deserves to know what they are spending, e.g. the Bill English rort to finance his family home and the last minute changes to let ministers use self-drive cars meant to help them serve their electorates in Wellington.

Labour answered these types of questions when asked by a National Opposition so what is Key hiding?

Here is a quick summary of the topics that I asked Key about:

  • Pay rises for staff working in Ministerial offices (remember other public servants have a wage freeze)
  • Use of VIP cars during National’s first year in office
  • Refurbishment costs for ministerial offices
  • Spending on gifts, beer, wine and spirits by ministers
  • Purchase of self-drive vehicles and related issues
  • Issues relating to Key’s changes to ministerial housing allowances

John Key talks a lot about transparency and accountability but it is all talk. The reality is neither he nor his ministers think that the rules that apply to others apply to them. Key’s ongoing refusal to answer basic written parliamentary questions just proves that.

17 Responses to “Will Key ever answer questions?”

  1. Winston Smith says:

    would that be the week or so before Xmas when you and your mates asked more questions in two weeks (and during a time when Key was offshore) than Helen Clark got in three years for the same portfolio?

    Here’s two more questions of my own:

    How much taxpayer money did you waste on your prolonged fishing trip?

    Do you really think that was a smart way to spend the taxpayer’s money?

  2. Mac1 says:

    “Parliament resumes today after the summer recess.”

    All strength to your collective elbows for an important mid-term session. Best wishes, thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  3. jennifer says:

    Interesting the Speaker ‘requires’ an answer in the House, but is relaxed if they play fast an loose with written questions? Maybe his stance is just for show?

  4. Dobbie says:

    What an utter waste of time. It really hacks me off when the Opposition wastes my taxpayer dollars trying to score bullshit politic points. It’s not clever to ask 67 questions. 67 questions is an unfocused, fishing trip that distracts the Government from doing the job of governing. You’d probably reply that “Opposition’s role is to keep the Government honest”, True that but can’t you be a little more considerate?

  5. slightlyrighty says:

    If Labour has the temerity to bombard the PM with 67 questions on issues as mundane as those highlighted by you, (BTW, enquiries to Parliamentary Services under the OIA would get you the answers you seek), then perhaps the PM is within his rights to focus on issues that really matter.

  6. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    The questions asked by labour are on behalf of the taxpayers.
    Obviously his highly paid office staff follow up with the relevant ministerial people. I would say the answers are in Keys in tray. Drawing possible flags seems to be more important.
    Its not a fishing expedition, its making them accountable for the decisions they make. Surely thats what you want Labour to do, instead of strewing his path with rose petals like the media do.

  7. Gosman says:

    I’d prefer that the Official Opposition engaged in tactics which didn’t across as childish and a waste of time and money.

    Simple questions have been put forward which seems to be ignored time and again by people who supported this tactic.

    Was it clever and a good use of taxpayers money to submit the number of questions that Labour submitted to the PM’s office just prior to Xmas last year?

  8. James Liddell says:

    slightlyrighty said “enquiries to Parliamentary Services under the OIA would get you the answers you seek”

    No they wouldn’t.

    1. Parliamentary Services is not subject to the OIA.
    2. Parliamentary Services does not deal with any of those issues. They’re all Ministerial Services issues. John Key is the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services.

    Chris is entitled to ask questions of those nature; it’s the role of the opposition and that’s what the WPQ process is designed for.

  9. George says:

    Then there were all those pointless and futile amendments to some bill as well (I forget now which bill it was) which resulted in the house having to sit into the weekend.

    It might have given Labour and its supporters a warm feeling, but it was a very bad look as far as the general public was concerned.

    Coming so soon on the heels of overpaying massively for NZ Rail it gave many people the impression that Labour couldn’t give a stuff about taxpayers’ money. You can generate this sort of image very quickly and then spend years trying to recover from it.

    But if it make the party faithful happy, then what the hell? It’s all a game anyway, isn’t it?

  10. @Winston Smith @Dobbie – it’s not a fishing trip, these questions relate to the expenditure of taxpayer money by ministers on themselves. Totally legit thing to be asking about. The cost of answering is actually pretty minimal, given the staff are already there (although under National they are being paid considerable more than under Labour).

    @Gosman – have a look at the questions I’ve put forward and you will find that they are in fact very simple and straight forward. Remember that Lockwood Smith keeps telling the Opposition that if they ask a straight question we should expect a straight answer – seems not!

  11. TopCat says:

    Chris- can someone ask the Minister for Transport
    1. To detail the costings to the changes to the Waterview Road. They are claiming their version is $1.3 Bill cheaper than yours even though it is 2 lanes wider.
    2. Why are they spending millions of dollars widening SH1 through Warkworth when they have just announced a new by-pass of the town.

    Compared with these two, the amounts are quibbling over seem small beer.

  12. Dobbie says:

    You missed the point Chris. It’s the volume of questions and the general waste of everybody’s time that’s the issue. If you were really onto something would you need 67 questions to get what you’re after? The staff are already there but they’re not there to spend time helping you score a few cheap points. Personally I think your actions are discourteous in the extreme and pretty juvenile but that’s just my opinion.

  13. Winston Smith says:

    Mine too.

  14. Dave says:

    Chris, are the questions you asked online? If so could you post a link.

  15. Dave – you’ll need to do a search on the QWA website:

  16. Nathan Mills says:

    I visited that site, apparently 25 pages of questions, around 15 per page. Seems to be many more than 67, and they’re predominately cut and paste questions, exactly the same, directed to each department minister.
    And if the info you’re chasing is so important to you, why haven’t you raised the subject matter as the issue of your post, rather than “I asked 67 questions a week before Xmas, and noone’s answered them yet?” Why not “I believe ministers are rorting vehicle allowances/entertainment allowances etc” if that’s your mission.

    Slightly ironic too that you’re asked to provide a link to your questions and fob the requester off with a “you’ll have to research it yourself” answer!

  17. Tigger says:

    Those critiquing questions like this are missing the context. National has been nitpicking through all manner of public spending except, it appears from the outside, their own. The issue is not just about dollars, it’s about walking the walk. National are great at telling us to cut back but less inclined to do that themselves. I mean, Bill English anyone?