NZQT or Kafka?

A now-familiar scene in our House of Representatives:

OPPOSITION MP
Does the Minister agree with the concerns raised by [group] about [issue]?

GOVERNMENT MINISTER
The member’s facts are incorrect.

OPPOSITION MP
Point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister if they agreed with the concerns of [group]. They did not answer the question.

DAVID CARTER
The Minister addressed the question, although I accept not to the member’s liking. Supplementary?

OPPOSITION MP
Is the Minister concerned about the fact that this issue is being criticised by groups including [group]?

GOVERNMENT MINISTER
I say again to the member that their facts are incorrect.

OPPOSITION MP
Point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to table evidence of [group’s] concerns about [issue].

DAVID CARTER
Is it a publicly available document?

OPPOSITION MP
It’s a media release/report/publication by [group] outlining their concerns.

DAVID CARTER
If it’s publicly available then it cannot be tabled. Question number six?

It’s a quaint thing about our Parliament. You absolutely must not ever under any circumstances call another member a liar. But when Opposition MPs try to question Government Ministers (which is kind of their entire job) about objective, provable facts (like “did X say Y” or “did figure A increase B%”), those Ministers are quite free to say “no you’re wrong” even when there is clear information in the public arena – and the Opposition cannot call them out on it. Because then this happens:

OPPOSITION MP
Point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has said [statement] is incorrect. This is simply not true. It’s right here in this document.

DAVID CARTER
Is it a publicly available document?

OPPOSITION MP
Yes, but the Minister just said it wasn’t true! But it’s right here! In black and white!

DAVID CARTER
If it’s publicly available then it cannot be tabled. Question number six?

You can tell when the charade becomes too much for some MPs, because that’s when they get themselves thrown out.

OPPOSITION MP
Point of order, Mr Speaker.

DAVID CARTER
Is it a new point of order?

OPPOSITION MP
Pretty much. No. I seek clarification on your ruling.

DAVID CARTER 
My ruling was very clear. The Minister addressed the member’s question, though I acknowledge not to the member’s satisfaction.

OPPOSITION MP
Mr Speaker, with respect, I think your ruling threatens to throw the House into disorder. It simply cannot be reconciled that the Minister is telling the truth while calling the member a liar about a statement of fact.

DAVID CARTER
No. The member knows he cannot make that insinuation.

OPPOSITION MP
It’s the exact same bloody insinuation the Minister made by saying my assumptions were incorrect when they bloody well know it’s not because it’s right here in black and white!

DAVID CARTER
The Minister addressed the question, although I acknowledge not to the member’s liking. If the member wishes to challenge the Minister’s answer, that is what further supplementary questions are for, even though the member cannot disprove the Minister’s answer by tabling documents which establish they’re lying because the documents are publicly available and cannot be tabled. Question six?

OPPOSITION MP
Are you fucking kidding me? How the hell is the House meant to keep order when you won’t even let us do our goddamn jobs?

DAVID CARTER
The member will leave the chamber.

OPPOSITION MP
*explodes*

I almost expect one day for David Carter to be exposed as a robot, a la the Roger Goodell-bot depicted in South Park:

John Key’s weird “gotcha” moment on ACC

Andrew Little was pushing the Prime Minister today on the fact that he’s ripping off workers and businesses to the tune of $350 million in ACC levies in order to generate his much-promised, never-delivered budget surplus.

Desperate to throw mud any way he could, Key took this patsy question from Tim MacIndoe:

 

Here’s the release in question.* That’s right, folks: apparently Andrew Little is a hypocrite because in 2009 he said levies were being raised unnecessarily high in order to prop up National’s political agenda, and in 2015 he’s saying levies are being kept unnecessarily high in order to prop up National’s political agenda.

Breathtaking, isn’t it? A real knockout punch, from the OTT reactions of Macindoe and Ross sitting behind him.

But maybe that does sound like hypocrisy to someone like John Key, to whom going back on his previously-held positions is second nature, whether it’s promising to resign over mass surveillance of New Zealanders, promising to apologise to victims of sexual assault, or promising he hasn’t had contact with Cameron Slater.

The surprising thing is what a terribly weak attack line this is. Since Key and his office lost Jason Ede it’s like all the pizzazz has gone out of the dirty politics machine.

*And no, there’s no conspiracy in me posting that link; it’s the top result when you google “andrew little acc levies epmu”, so calm down, Chaos & Mayhem.