Did he invite the Minister for ACC to attend the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee on the 2007/08 ACC financial review; if so, when?
I agreed that the Minister should attend the committee meeting, and Labour members would have got much value out of his attendance. [ Interruption]
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The key part of the question was “when”, and it was not addressed.
I think, in reasonableness, the member has a supplementary to pursue that matter if he wants to pursue it.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a primary question. It has been submitted through the Clerk’s Office and it has been approved. It asks the question in two parts: was the Minister invited, and if so, when? These are the standard questions that are asked all the time, so to have only half the question answered and for you to say that that is all right, means there is no point lodging questions in the first place.
As Speaker I have to be seen to be reasonable and fair. I allowed two supplementaries from the member, asking questions that strictly did not comply. I allowed them in the interests of enabling the Opposition to pursue the issue of accountability of the chair of the select committee. On this one I think there is the opportunity to pursue the issue further with a supplementary, and I invite the member to do so.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are on question to member No. 3 now; the decisions you made about question to member No. 2 should not impact on question to member No. 3 in any way whatsoever. Mr Mallard has lodged question No. 3—
The member is questioning my ruling. Look, if I applied the Standing Orders rigidly during question time, we would not get very far. I allow latitude to try to keep it flowing. As I say, on the previous two questions to the member, I could have ruled out both supplementaries. The answer I heard from David Bennett I thought was reasonable. The member, if he was not happy with that answer, has the chance to pursue it; he has a further supplementary. I invite the member to ask it so that he can pursue the issues concerning him.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It goes back to the point before the one that my colleague was making, and it goes to the responsibility of the select committee chair. You made it clear, Mr Speaker, that the process around the select committee is the responsibility of the select committee chair. Part of that process is ensuring that the proper person is invited to the committee, and that when a response comes it is properly made available to the committee. Mr Speaker, you have indicated your prejudice around this third—
The member will resume his seat right now, and if the member wishes to pursue this issue—I see that he has a real, keen interest in it; that is fair enough—he will now ask his supplementary. He can make it as tight and sharp as he likes, and I will listen carefully to the answer. But if he wishes to ask it, he should ask it now.
I just warn the member that if he is going to relitigate my ruling he will be leaving the Chamber, and will not be asking a supplementary.
Well, Mr Speaker, I want to make it clear that you indicated that you had taken into account responses to questions to member No. 1 and No. 2—
The member will resume his seat now! I indicated that I had taken into account the fact that the member’s questions did not strictly comply with the Standing Orders. That is what I took into account. I allowed them because I wanted the flow and I wanted the member to have the chance to question the chair of the committee. I have invited the member to ask his question. If he does not ask his question, he will be leaving the Chamber and will not be back for the rest of the day. Either he asks his question or that is it.
It is a close call, Mr Speaker, and I will; the whips do not quite agree with you, Mr Speaker. Going back to the member’s original answer, I ask how he reconciles that answer with the comments that Dr Smith made, which were reported in the New Zealand Herald and the Press, and on Radio New Zealand, that he was invited to that—I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is the chairman of the committee allowed to get advice from the whip while I am asking the question?
The member will resume his seat. Look, I invited the member to ask his question; I believe that he is trifling with the procedures. Of course the chair can talk to whomever he likes in this Chamber, and that is not a matter of order. I am very tempted to say that the member has lost his chance to ask this question, because I consider it is trifling. I am very serious; I say to the honourable member that he has tested me as absolutely far as it is possible to go. He will ask his question now, clearly, with no preface—dead simple, dead clear—or he is going.
How does the chair reconcile his answer with the comments of Dr Smith, reported in the New Zealand Herald and the Press, and on Radio New Zealand, that he, Mr Bennett, invited Dr Smith to the meeting?