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696 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1908996 28-Nov-2017 13:29
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Fred99:

 

Some terrific work here (not):

 

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/order-paper-questions/written-questions/

 

Machine-gunning about 350 pointless written questions a day - vandalising the political process - pack of sore losers.

 

 

 

 

The LGNZF coalition have actually bought this on themselves.  Lawyer Graeme Edgeler covers how/why over at Public Address.

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, Newsroom journalist Sam Sachdeva sent this tweet:

 

 

There have been a whopping 6254 written questions submitted to Govt ministers by the Nats in the last month; for comparison, there were 964 during the equivalent period after the 2014 election.

 

— Sam Sachdeva (@SamSachdevaNZ) November 24, 2017

 

I retweeted, and replied, and my mentions have now started to die down.

 

Written questions are not OIA requests. They’re more urgent: replies are expected within six working days, not 20, and the MPs who are asking them can seek answers, but not documents. And like the more well-known oral questions, each question is limited to one question, and answers are usually expected to be short. They’re a means for MPs, especially opposition MPs, but also local MPs, to quickly get information from Ministers to enable them to be able to do their jobs, representing the interests of their constituents, or holding the government to account, and, ideally not having to wait for the length of time an OIA usually takes.

 

You can’t use the written questions to get documents, but you can use them to ask for the names of documents: what reports has the Minister seen about school closures in the last month? With the answer, an MP can then follow up with an OIA request for reports of interest.

 

So, what questions have National MPs been asking?

 

Here’s one example:

 

 

8560 (2017). Hon Mark Mitchell to the Defence (Minister – Ron Mark) (16 Nov 2017): What meetings, if any, has the Minister attended between 26 October 2017 and 15 November 2017, including subject, attendees, and agenda items?

 

 

 

 

It’s the type of thing any beat reporter probably does once a month via the OIA: ask the Minister of Health, or Education, or Defence who they have met with in the last month (or in this case, the first 3 weeks or so since being a Minister), or what reports they’ve received in the last month, and then 20 working days later once you received the reply, put in further requests about reports or meetings of particular interest. It is an entirely reasonable question for the opposition defence spokesperson to ask: MPs have a heightened interest in this information, and allowing them the faster start on the question part is the reason Parliament has written questions.

 

The answer given was:

 

 

Hon Ron Mark (Defence (Minister – Ron Mark)) replied: I meet regularly, formally and informally, with officials and various stakeholders. A range of issues are discussed. If the Member would like to be more specific I will endeavour to answer the question.

 

 

This is not particularly helpful. But perhaps three weeks is too a long time? With meetings every day, the answer could be lengthy.

 

How did other MPs do?

 

Well, Simon Bridges, split them up a little more. He broke them down into weeks, asking questions like:

 

 

8449 (2017). Hon Simon Bridges to the Immigration (Associate Minister – Kris Faafoi) (16 Nov 2017): What meetings, if any, did the Minister attend between 26 October and 29 October inclusive, including subject, attendees and agenda items?

 

 

And:

 

 

8448 (2017). Hon Simon Bridges to the Immigration (Associate Minister – Kris Faafoi) (16 Nov 2017): What meetings, if any, did the Minister attend between 30 October and 05 November inclusive, including subject, attendees and agenda items?

 

 

These questions got the answers:

 

 

(to 8449) Hon Kris Faafoi (Immigration (Associate Minister – Kris Faafoi)) replied: I meet regularly, formally and informally, with officials and various stakeholders. A range of issues are discussed. If the Member would like to be more specific I will endeavour to answer the question.

 

 

 

(to 8448) Hon Kris Faafoi (Immigration (Associate Minister – Kris Faafoi)) replied: I meet regularly, formally and informally, with officials and various stakeholders. A range of issues are discussed. If the Member would like to be more specific I will endeavour to answer the question.

 

 

Well, they say a week is a long time in politics, so maybe this too is too long, even when the week is short because for most of it, you weren’t yet a Minister). So, at the express request of the Ministers, National MPs have been limiting their requests further:

 

Chris Bishop asked about a single day:

 

 

8393 (2017). Chris Bishop to the Police (Minister – Stuart Nash) (16 Nov 2017): Did the Minister have any meetings in his capacity as Minister of Police on October 27, if so, what people and organisations did he meet with on that day, where were the meetings held and what were the main items of business?

 

 

The reply:

 

 

Hon Stuart Nash (Police (Minister – Stuart Nash)) replied: I meet regularly, formally and informally, with officials and various stakeholders. A range of issues are discussed. If the Member would like to be more specific I will endeavour to answer the question.

 

 

 Bishop too, was asked by the Minister to be more specific, Ministers are refusing to say what they did even on a single day. Bishop has followed up, with a few more questions:

 

 

11778 (2017). Chris Bishop to the Minister of Police (22 Nov 2017): Did the Minister have any meetings in his capacity as Minister of Police on October 27 between 8 and 9am, if so, what people and organisations did he meet with at that time; where were the meetings held and what were the main items of business?

 

11779 (2017). Chris Bishop to the Minister of Police (22 Nov 2017): Did the Minister have any meetings in his capacity as Minister of Police on October 27 between 9 and 10am, if so, what people and organisations did he meet with at that time; where were the meetings held and what were the main items of business?

 

 

The replies are due by Thursday. Hopefully Bishop, and the other MPs (all of whom seem to have been specifically invited by Ministers to ask more granular question) will have the answers to which they are entitled.

 

So far, Bishop’s hour-by-hour requests only cover the first two days the Minister of Police was in office, although the essentially rejected day-by-day requests covered several weeks. The Minister should consider himself lucky. Far from being aghast that National MPs have asked “a whopping 6254 written questions”, I am instead surprised by their forbearance. They are being denied information they ought to have. By rights, they should have asked more.

 


1507 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1909019 28-Nov-2017 14:44
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6FIEND:

 

The LGNZF coalition have actually bought this on themselves.  Lawyer Graeme Edgeler covers how/why over at Public Address.

 

 

That's priceless, thanks 6fiend for that perspective, which quite unsurprisingly hasn't been widely reported.

 

The original questions seem quite reasonable, it's only when the Minister turns out to be obstructive that the "spam" ones are asked.


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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1909046 28-Nov-2017 15:57
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shk292:

 

6FIEND:

 

The LGNZF coalition have actually bought this on themselves.  Lawyer Graeme Edgeler covers how/why over at Public Address.

 

 

That's priceless, thanks 6fiend for that perspective, which quite unsurprisingly hasn't been widely reported.

 

The original questions seem quite reasonable, it's only when the Minister turns out to be obstructive that the "spam" ones are asked.

 

 

National MPs gave the same responses (almost verbatim) when Labour (also IMO in a cynical abuse of process) used the same machine-gun tactics.

 

They need to sort this crap out - it benefits nobody - and proves nothing.


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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1909191 28-Nov-2017 20:31
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Fred99:

 

shk292:

 

6FIEND:

 

The LGNZF coalition have actually bought this on themselves.  Lawyer Graeme Edgeler covers how/why over at Public Address.

 

 

That's priceless, thanks 6fiend for that perspective, which quite unsurprisingly hasn't been widely reported.

 

The original questions seem quite reasonable, it's only when the Minister turns out to be obstructive that the "spam" ones are asked.

 

 

National MPs gave the same responses (almost verbatim) when Labour (also IMO in a cynical abuse of process) used the same machine-gun tactics.

 

They need to sort this crap out - it benefits nobody - and proves nothing.

 

 

 

 

You want it sorted now that Labour is in Govt?

 

Why didnt people scream out loud when Labour did this in opposition? In fact Mallard was thrown out of the chamber more times than anyone and yet he is Speaker? Peters has always been an idiot in the house with a lot of his questions in the house being nonsense. 

 

Seems too many people think this coalition deserves some kind of free ride against the democratic process. There is no free ride, they will learn quickly or they will die. Making decisions outside cabinet and giving rubbish answers to legitimate questions is not what I want from any Government. They promised transparency, and now they need to deliver or a strong opposition will pummel them until they do. They are spending like there is no tomorrow and all most of us want to see is transparency on this as well.


bmt

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1909213 28-Nov-2017 21:17
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Interesting, were you calling for transparency when National was in Govt?


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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1909241 28-Nov-2017 22:40
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bmt:

 

Interesting, were you calling for transparency when National was in Govt?

 

 

 

 

YES

 

and Labour did a reasonable job of keeping them in check.


1507 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1909300 29-Nov-2017 08:16
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bmt:

 

Interesting, were you calling for transparency when National was in Govt?

 

 

Absolutely, I would say that any Minister who won't answer a reasonable question (eg what were your engagements on a particular day) is being obstructive; they have staff to answer this for them anyway.

 

There are many times when transparency is not appropriate - eg during trade negotations and concerning national security.  But the above examples are clearly not such cases


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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1909304 29-Nov-2017 08:27
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shk292:

 

bmt:

 

Interesting, were you calling for transparency when National was in Govt?

 

 

Absolutely, I would say that any Minister who won't answer a reasonable question (eg what were your engagements on a particular day) is being obstructive; they have staff to answer this for them anyway.

 

There are many times when transparency is not appropriate - eg during trade negotations and concerning national security.  But the above examples are clearly not such cases

 

 

 

 

And, given current technology, the particular issue at hand (meetings etc) could easily be made publicly available online after the fact (say, monthly) as a matter of course.






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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1909352 29-Nov-2017 09:53
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I thought this thread was about a potential new leader for National??

 

 

 

Seems from a couple of articles that Simon Bridges will be it. Bit harsh, BE didnt do anything that cost them the election. Maybe Nats want to play the younger and fresher card?


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