Wednesday, July 03, 2013

His own worst enemy

I've just watched an extraordinary exchange in Question Time, which saw Speaker Carter threatening to punish the Greens for following proper process.

Metiria Turei had tried to ask the Prime Minister a question about his crony deal with Sky City. Key didn't want to answer it, so it was transferred to the Minister for Economic Development. As the question was asking whether the Prime Minister stood by one of his statements, Turei quite rightly challenged that transfer. She then, as is usual practice, tried to change the Speaker's mind when he refused. Having failed, she then sought a further point of order. At that stage, the speaker went berserk and started issuing threats. After a prolonged exchange which tied up the House for a good five minutes, he finally relented - at which stage Metiria was allowed to ask her points of order: to seek leave for the question to be transferred back, and then to exercise her right to withdraw the question.

So, a party which tried to follow the proper and accepted process - seek a ruling, attempt to argue it once, seek leave to over-ride it, then withdraw the question - was threatened by the Speaker for doing so.

Its an unpleasant example of Carter's biases - and of his failure as a Speaker. He is his own worst enemy in the role: his authoritarianism and partisanship make the job unnecessarily difficult for him, in the process wasting valuable House time and bringing the House into contempt with the public. Bluntly, if he wasn't such a dick about it, his job would become significantly easier. But sadly, that's probably too much to expect.

(The irony: one of those vague "does the Prime Minister stand by all his statements" questions I hate provided a gateway for the Turei to bypass the transfer and ask Key directly. Which he Did Not Like. Which means Carter will probably be moving to limit the scope of such questions in future in order to protect the Prime Minister from public shame).