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Ministers—Confidence

Wednesday 4 May 2011 Hansard source (external site)

Goff1. Hon PHIL GOFF (Leader of the Opposition) Link to this
to the Prime Minister

Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

Why does he regard a man described by ACT Party leader, Don Brash, as “toxic” and “tarnished” as a man suitable to be in his ministry?

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

Because he has done an outstanding job of managing local government. To be perfectly honest, from the comments I hear in the gym from Labour Party members, that is a lot kinder than the way they talk about Phil Goff.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

Yeah, right! Mr Speaker—[ Interruption]

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

I have called the honourable Leader of the Opposition and I want to hear his question.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

Why did the Prime Minister say a week ago that Rodney Hide would keep his ministerial post if rolled as ACT leader, then say on Monday that he would have no problem if ACT withdrew from its ministerial positions, and then say that he was happy for Rodney Hide to continue as a Minister despite his being rolled as leader? Who is actually making these decisions and who is pulling the strings?

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

I am not sure that the first statement made by the Leader of the Opposition is correct.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I could offer to table—

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

That is not a point of order.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

I seek leave to table the documents on which those quotes were based. They are, of course—

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

The honourable Leader of the Opposition must identify the document.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

It is from the daily newspapers—

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

We will not carry on like this. Members have let off a bit of steam here, but we do not table things from newspapers. The honourable member is perfectly entitled, though, to ask a further supplementary question.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday and today have highlighted a problem that we are getting into, because we now have the Prime Minister denying reports—

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

The member will resume—

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

Well, he cannot say—

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

And there will be no interjection while I am on my feet. The member knows that that is not an issue of order. The Prime Minister is perfectly entitled to deny matters. He can be questioned further on those denials. He leaves himself open to questioning, but that is absolutely within his rights within the Standing Orders.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that is right when it is a matter of fact, opinion, or misreporting, but when something is printed—

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

The member is now starting to argue with the Chair. He cannot do that. [ Interruption] There will not be any comment from my right. This is question time. Members ask questions and Ministers answer them. The Prime Minister disputed a supposed fact contained in the question asked. A Minister is entitled to do that, and that is why we have further supplementary questions, to dig further into that specific aspect if the member wishes to do so.

CosgroveHon Clayton Cosgrove Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have a question for you. Given that the Prime Minister, as you have rightly said—

CosgroveHon Clayton Cosgrove Link to this

Excuse me, I have a question.

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

No, the member will resume his seat. Members do not have questions for the Speaker. Under points of order, they raise issues of order in this House. If the member has an issue of order, I want to hear it very quickly.

CosgroveHon Clayton Cosgrove Link to this

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will rephrase my language. You have said that the Prime Minister has a right to refute—sure. But how does a member then defend his own honour and his own word when you have denied him the right to produce the evidence, which may be in the form of a press statement? You say that he must chew up his own supplementary questions in order to defend his own honour and his own word.

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

The member will resume his seat. We are not getting anywhere here. The whole idea of supplementary questions is to enable members to dig into the answers given. That is the whole idea of supplementary questions. If the Prime Minister has answered incorrectly, it is a wonderful opportunity for the honourable Leader of the Opposition to dig into that, to put more heat on the Prime Minister, and to test him further on the accuracy of his answer. That is what question time is all about.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

Did the Prime Minister say from London, as quoted on the New Zealand Herald website, that ACT matters are for the party, but add that Mr Hide would keep his ministerial posts if he were rolled as ACT leader; and, if he did say that, why did he just deny it?

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

Is it appropriate for decisions on who serves in the ministry that he heads to be made by a man who is not even in Parliament?

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

Maybe it is important for the education of the Leader of the Opposition to understand the process. If somebody is going to serve in the ministry, then they have to enjoy my confidence, but one of the evolving tests and conventions that we now have for our supply partners is that we also take guidance from them about whom they want. In this case, if there was not a marriage of those two ideas, it would not be acceptable. I have made it clear that in the case of Roger Douglas it would not have been acceptable. In the case of Mr Hide, Mr Boscawen, or Heather Roy it would have been acceptable.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

Was the decision to dump the 2025 Taskforce a decision that should have been announced by him as Prime Minister rather than by Dr Brash, and did he authorise Dr Brash to make that announcement?

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

I do not authorise anything that Dr Brash says. That is a matter for him. In terms of the earlier one, I think my comments were reported a few weeks ago that I thought the 2025 Taskforce had run its course, just as Mr Goff’s leadership has run its course.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

If Dr Brash is an extremist, as the Prime Minister has labelled him, why does he not rule him out of occupying any future ministerial position in a Government led by him?

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

The point I have made is that ACT members hold some extreme views, which is quite within their rights, and they are entitled to do so. That does not rule them out of being in a potential Government with National.

GoffHon Phil Goff Link to this

Why did the Prime Minister yesterday hold the signing of his new confidence and supply agreement with Dr Brash in secret, refusing to allow the media to participate in the occasion?

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

It was not in secret. I told the media at my post-Cabinet press conference, and I confirmed the time on my way to caucus. What is a secret is the list of people who are plotting against Phil Goff, as we know—[ Interruption]

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

Which National backbenchers cannot see that I am on my feet? That is enough of that. The Prime Minister knows he was stretching my patience, and he should not do that. That question did not deserve that unfair final comment. I ask the Prime Minister not to do that further, during this question time.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

Was the Prime Minister advised by Steven Joyce of his role in engaging Simon Lusk for the Brash coup; if so, did he tell Bill English?

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

I call the Rt Hon Prime Minister, in so far as he has any responsibility for that.

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

No, but can I advise Labour Party members that they need someone like Simon Lusk as they certainly need a coup, the way they are going.

BoscawenJohn Boscawen Link to this

How can he have any confidence in any of his Ministers, when the Government set the goal of closing the income gap with Australia by 2025 and he has simply widened it and disbanded the 2025 task force, to avoid further embarrassment?

KeyRt Hon JOHN KEY Link to this

Firstly, I enjoy confidence in all my Ministers. I want to thank the member for his contribution as a Minister, and say that I continue to enjoy the confidence of the man sitting behind him. Putting that all to one side, if one were to look at the facts, in real after-tax terms the wage gap with Australia has closed. I think the Government can take quite some congratulations for that.

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