Point of order

Yesterday in Parliament I asked Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce about the SkyCity deal, and whether the Government would delay the bill in the House until after John Banks’ court case was resolved.

As some of you may have seen or heard, it was pretty interesting. Not just because of Steven Joyce’s answers and the Government’s denials about the SkyCity deal, but also because I got kicked out of the House – the only time in my 11 years in Parliament!

Video and transcript below…what do you all think?

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEeiqJ2oGhY’]

2. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Economic Development: Has Cabinet discussed delaying the passage of the New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill until the Hon John Banks prosecution is resolved; if not, why not?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development) : No. I am relatively new here, but it is my understanding that the executive proposes legislation and then a properly constituted Parliament of the House of Representatives debates and votes on legislation. I dare say that is what will actually happen in this case.

Metiria Turei : Has Cabinet discussed the conflict of interest arising from Mr Banks having a crucial vote on the Skycity deal at the same time as Skycity is a witness in the court proceedings against Mr Banks regarding a $15,000 donation that Mr Banks received from Skycity?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : I am not really sure what the member is trying to infer here, but my understanding is that Parliament gets to vote on legislation. Every member of Parliament in this House has the opportunity to do that, and to vote according to how their party and their caucus want them to vote. I think that is what is appropriate. It is generally what occurs, and I am sure that is what will occur in this case.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question expressly asked “Has Cabinet discussed the conflict of interest”—

Mr SPEAKER : I agree with the point the member is raising. Would she please ask the question again.

Metiria Turei : Has Cabinet discussed the conflict of interest arising from Mr Banks having a crucial vote on the Skycity deal at the same time as Skycity is a witness in the court proceedings against Mr Banks regarding a $15,000 donation that Mr Banks received from Skycity?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : Well, I reject much of the supposition contained in that question, but the answer is still no, same as it was for the primary question.

Metiria Turei : Why does the Minister not believe that there is a conflict of interest, when Mr Banks’ seat in this House is potentially dependent on the evidence that Skycity will present at his criminal trial, and Skycity’s $400 million deal could stand or fall on Mr Banks’ vote?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : Well, this Parliament is the master of its own destiny, and every MP who sits here sits here because of this Parliament and are entitled to do so. While they are here, I presume they are entitled to vote. I might be old-fashioned in that respect, but that was my understanding of it.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order, and it will be—[Interruption ] Order! A point of order has been called, and there were interjections coming from two-quarters of the House. If that continues, you leave me with no choice but to ask the member interjecting through a point of order to leave the Chamber.

Metiria Turei : Again, my question expressly concerned whether he believed there was or was not a—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I listened carefully to the question, and on this occasion the Minister addressed it to my satisfaction.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister believe it is good for democracy to pass a law benefiting Skycity while relying on the vote of a man whose seat in this House and even his freedom may depend on the testimony that Skycity presents at his criminal trial?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : Speaking to the question, there are two answers to it. Firstly, I disagree with the member’s characterisation of the benefits of the legislation. The benefit of this legislation is to the people of Auckland and to the people of New Zealand, who would obtain a $400 million convention centre with the benefit of economic growth and jobs in this country. I know that member disagrees, but it is democratic for people to have different views.

Hon Dr Nick Smith : What reports has the Minister received on the precedent that was set when retrospective legislation for paying for the credit card costs in the 2005 election came before Parliament, in which every member of the Government had a vested interest—

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Grant Robertson : I cannot see how that could possibly be relevant to the primary question.

Mr SPEAKER : I agree with the member.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister think that a Government deal that causes people harm in order to increase casino profits is morally bankrupt?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : I completely disagree with the premise of that member’s question, and here is the problem. The tenor of the questions of the member today is that she does not want a properly constituted Parliament of this country to vote on this legislation because she disagrees with it. I am sorry, but that is wrong.

Metiria Turei : Will the Minister meet with the victims of problem gambling and explain to them why he feels comfortable using the vote of a disgraced MP to pass a law that will increase the harm that problem gambling causes to our communities?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : Everybody has a different view on what is disgraceful, and I think it is actually reasonably disgraceful to run a political campaign with taxpayers’ money during a term, but that is just my view. Of course, what is allowed to be done is allowed to be done. But my view on that is that every human activity involves some risk and every risk has to be managed, and that is what happens. The member, unless she is proposing to ban casinos and ban all gambling and ban lotteries, has no right to lecture me on that subject.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I expressly asked the Minister whether he will meet—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The question was far more loaded than that.

Metiria Turei : Is this not the truth of the matter, Minister, that the Skycity bill—[Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member has a right to ask a supplementary question.

Metiria Turei : Is it not the truth of the matter that the Skycity bill is a sleazy deal in which his Government trades harm—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That question is now out of order.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : I just want to check, first of all, that the member is not going to question the decision I have just made.

Metiria Turei : No, I am not going to question your decision. I would like your reasoning as to why you now consider that question out of order. [Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I do not need assistance. The member can just go back and look at the wording of her question and some of the words she used in that question, and I am sure she will figure it out for herself.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Can I just again clarify that we are not in any way questioning a ruling.

Metiria Turei : I am not questioning your decision.

Mr SPEAKER : Then I will hear a fresh point of order.

Metiria Turei : Does your ruling now mean that the word “sleazy” is a prohibited word in this Parliament?

Mr SPEAKER : No, it does not.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Can I just remind the member, because she is getting very, very close to having to be asked to leave the Chamber, that if she continues to raise points of order that I consider are trifling with the Chair, Speakers’ rulings—Speaker’s ruling 20/8 from memory—will suggest that she leaves me with no choice.

Metiria Turei : I understand.

Mr SPEAKER : OK, we will hear one more—hopefully one more—point of order.

Metiria Turei : At the point that you declared my question out of order, which is your right to do so, the only phrase I had used was “sleazy deal”. I am not sure—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption ] Order! The member will resume her seat. I have ruled the question out of order. That is the end of the matter. It is not something that is relitigated in this House.

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has been the practice under your term as Speaker for members both of the Government and of Opposition parties to seek clarification from you on rulings. It is a perfectly legitimate part of all the time that I have been in the Chamber that that has been done, and that when a ruling appears to be a new one, members have the right to raise points of order with you and you have in the past responded. Or, if not that day, you come back with a considered ruling to explain why you made the ruling you made. I think that would be the appropriate course in this case.

Mr SPEAKER : And I agree with the member. Metiria Turei raised the question as to whether “sleazy” was now an unparliamentary term, and I said no.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : I will hear, but I just want to warn the member that if we are any way addressing a decision I have made, I will be immediately, sadly, asking the member to leave the Chamber.

Metiria Turei : Absolutely, Mr Speaker. My point of order to you—

Mr SPEAKER : I just want to check that it is a fresh point of order.

Metiria Turei : It is a fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : Good.

Metiria Turei : What part of my question was out of order?

Mr SPEAKER : The member will now leave the Chamber. [Interruption ] Order! I am on my feet.

  • Metiria Turei withdrew from the Chamber.

Iain Lees-Galloway : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask— [Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! We have a point of order, and it will be heard in silence. [Interruption ] Order!

Iain Lees-Galloway : I ask that you reflect on the original decision to rule Metiria Turei’s question out of order and perhaps bring a considered response back to the House. You have now left members in a difficult situation, I submit, in that it is difficult to craft questions that are in order because we do not know why it was that Metiria Turei’s question was out of order.

Hon Anne Tolley : I suggest that every member in this House has a responsibility to read the Standing Orders. If you read Standing Order 377, it makes it very clear. Standing Order 377(1)(b) states: “arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, ironical expressions or expressions of opinion,”—[Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I thank the member. I do not need further help on this point. Iain Lees-Galloway—[Interruption ] Order! Iain Lees-Galloway has asked a reasonable question. I will have a further consideration of it, but I again say exactly what I said to Metiria Turei. I think that a reread of the supplementary question that was asked would help the member understand. But I do want to point out that Metiria Turei was not asked to leave the House because she asked that question; she then continued to raise numerous points of order that were relitigating—[Interruption ] Order! I am on my feet. She continued to raise numerous points of order that were, in effect, relitigating a decision the Speaker had made.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek clarification, and it is simply this. It is not to challenge your ruling, but to ask you whether the statement that rules out that word is a precedent, or is it based on a precedent?

Mr SPEAKER : No, again, the member is now raising exactly the same point of order that was raised by Metiria Turei—whether the word “sleazy” is unparliamentary. I said that, no, it was not necessarily unparliamentary. It was the total content of the question that I was not satisfied with.

27 Comments Posted

  1. Photo, Yes you are correct in your bullet points about a convention centre, they are able to be somewhat justified over a 30-50 year life. The land was purchased at a ridiculous price. The money the casino makes does not go back to the communities it takes baseline revenue. There are at least four separate problems here.
    1. The speaker has shown bias in his exercising of the rules by accepting some loaded questions and letting loaded answers slide.
    2. The “investment” in a casino as entertainment is an oxymoron. Money is’t funny in a rich-man’s world. The rich just want somewhere to express their wealth as an extension on their…insecurities. Why don’t they build something that will benefit society, have some creativity! They really went out on a limb adding a bunjgi to the sky tower…
    3. The location of a convention centre in Auckland, who’s heritage and secrets are embezzled in concrete lies. If you really wanted to see New Zealand, you wouldn’t go to Auckland to go to a casino…depends what you want to see I guess. Centralising our biggest industry..tourism, Austrailia has done the same, “assuming” chinas middle class will want to come here and gamble! I’d say they are more likely to come with family to escape the cities!
    4. And of course the conflicts of interest that have not been addressed. If we ignore corruption, it will ignore us!

  2. good fight! The speaker and the minister(s) are those should be kicked out of the house for being unfair, dishonest, withholding information/truths, etc.
    National govt’s usual way of dealing with questioning time
    “You can’t handle the truth, so we can’t tell you the truth” as those truths stink and all of us will be outraged if they give honest answers…

    if they give honest answers; I am afraid many of our govt officials will be imprisoned for committing many different crimes..

  3. “they are straying into the area of treasonous activity”

    Dunno about that – these people have never made any secret of their religion. So far as I know, they never made any claims to be anything other than free-market capitalists, so perhaps the ‘treason’ was commited by the people who voted for them?

  4. “The use of the word “sleazy” was out of order. ”

    Dear me, questioning the speaker’s rulings – he said it wasn’t out of order – good thing you aren’t in parliament – you’d be kicked out.

  5. Oooohh!!! Conspiracy.

    So a convention centre would only benefit overseas people with money –
    – not the hundreds of new jobs created for Kiwis?
    – not all the accommodation providers?
    – not the food providers?
    – not the tourism industry around the country for the thousands of conference attendees who take the opportunity to see other parts of NZ?

    You have an astonishing ability to pull in your blinkers so tightly that most of the world disappears and you can only see a very narrow and one-sided part of the picture.

  6. Hmmm… “sleazy” would be the kindest thing I might offer them. This government is as clearly part of the kleptocracy as any I have EVER seen, and I am from the USA where that sort of nonsense has been in vogue since the Reagan. They are not working for the good of New Zealand. They are working for the good of people with money.

    Since the people with money may well NOT be New Zealanders one can reach the conclusion that they are straying into the area of treasonous activity, given their oaths. I do not think history will deal with them gently. It is a shame that New Zealanders are sheep enough to elect them.

  7. Anale – you are a dag! John Key called the Greens and Labour ‘The Devil Beast’ – you agree that he should have been instructed to leave the House?

  8. Welcome to New Zealand 2013 – now a truly “sleazy” country under a “sleazy” government! I still want to know, what the Speaker based his ruling on, to declare Metiria’s question out of order. His hands are shaking wildly at times, and he tends to fumble around with his pen and so, clearly showing, he has not got the nerves and self control to perform the role as required.

    Interesting times, but also very worrying times, inside and outside of Parliament. Watch your backs, there maybe some backstabbers to deal to you, that is what New Zealand is becoming like as a country, I fear.

    One consolation is to see Banksie having to face the High Court, that is if he does not succeed with an appeal.

  9. The use of the word “sleazy” was out of order. How would you feel if opposition parties labeled Green deals “sleazy”? They, too, would be out of order for doing so.

    It’s unbecoming, and you were rightly kicked out for pushing the point.Disappointing for a party that started out professing not to get dragged down into this style of politics.

  10. I think you are missing the point a bit, Photo. This wasn’t a debate over the rights and wrongs of the casino, but over conflicts of interest and parliamentary procedures. And part of on-going concern at the speaker’s poor performance and unwillingness to require ministers to answer questions – which makes the whole of ‘question time’ a useless waste of everyone’s time and money.

  11. What do the Greens have to say about Len Brown taking free rooms from Sky City and then not voting to block the Convention deal?

  12. A great example of how to lose a debate by shooting yourself in the foot.

    You took a debate with the govt over the casino deal, and changed it into a full-on argument with the speaker over technicalities and YOUR use of a word.

  13. Metiria, you should wear your dismissal as a ‘badge of honour’ !

    Pointing out this Govt. ‘underhanded’ tactics is part of the role of an opposition party. Also calling the speaker out, on his bias treatment of MPs on both sides.. as he does often (my humble opinion)

    It was unclear to myself (likely anyone watching/listening) why your question was ruled ‘our of order’ if NOT for the colourful word you chose, that others used also !!

    Kia-ora Metiria, keep up the good work

  14. I really like Banks’s defense : “I didn’t make a false declaration because I didn’t read it before I signed it, or perhaps I read it but I didn’t understand it. I can’t remember.”

    I’ll try that the next time I want to wriggle out of a contract : “I can’t be bound by the small print because I didn’t read it.” Yeah, that’ll work.

  15. Minister Joyce – when asked about the SkyCity deal benefiting SkyCity tried to claim that the bill would benefit Auckland. However why would SkyCity agree to the deal unless they saw some benefit to themselves?
    Typical NAct evasion!


  16. He (Mr Bank) made a big mistake saying “he has done nothing wrong” he would have been better off saying he was right based on his understanding of the law at the time. But he should probably be referred to the document he signed when he was elected. and if he didn’t read it does that make the contract invalid, and therefore protection under that contract “invalid”? haha

  17. Point of order Mr Frog… Would it be considered unblogamentary language if I were to suggest that John Banks may be a sleazebag, or to suggest that he ought to have his holdings and revenues audited to the hilt in order to establish whether he may have filled his pockets personally in his dealings with SkyCity and/or Dotcom? Not that I’m making any such assertion, but insofar as he is capable of signing false campaign finance declarations without seeking to understand their contents, it may turn out that there’s a bank account somewhere that’s brimming with money that his lawyers or accountants haven’t bothered informing him about.

  18. A disgraceful set of answers from Stephen Joyce, and a disgraceful performance by the Speaker. If you’d not been kicked out you’d have been justified in walking out.

  19. May I add… that the whole setup where Banks, after being defeated as mayor of Auckland, becomes minister and gets to redesign/gut local government according to his fantasies, is powerfully undemocratic. Imagine Ken Livingstone, after losing the mayoralty, being named Minister for London and stripping away powers from Boris Johnson… Unthinkable. Or rather, it puts NZ in the category of borderline democracies… I’m sure they’d do better in most places in South America. Central Europe — I’m thinking Hungary or Bulgaria — maybe.

  20. That was fabulous! And well worth getting kicked out of Parliament for. It’s almost a shame that the fuss over that will obscure the more important point : the disgraceful way the Minister refused to acknowledge the clear conflict of interest; and the disgraceful way the government intends to allow that ratbag Banks to vote on the sweetheart deal.

  21. Yes, good questions, In using such language, you have hopefully brought some highlight to the use of emotive language, when asking and addressing questions in the house. I hope that this contributes to careful construction of questions in an unambiguous manner. Keep up the good work Hon member Ms Metiria Turei. This is a matter of conflict of interest, and Mr Joyce is obviously incapable of quantify objective cost benefit analysis, due to his “opinion” on the matter as minister of “economic” development. I support the notion to review New Zealand lotteries and gambling as a benefit to New Zealanders, and SkyCity’s involvement in the industry as anything but non-profit organisation, permitted under the Gambling act 2003 yet is classified as “entertainment”.

  22. Cheers, Meyt.

    That was an appalling performance from Speaker David Carter.

    You obviously didn’t know what you had done wrong, and repeated attempts from you to get Carter to explain this failed to get any explanation.

    After you were kicked out, Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway was also similarly confused by what Speaker Carter’s Ruling meant.

    The Speaker shouldn’t be booting MPs out of Parliament just because they ask the reason he thinks they transgressed Standing Orders.

  23. Speaker raised the precedent Standing Order 377(1)(b) states: “arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, ironical expressions or expressions of opinion,” Hon Turei continued to question the point of order. When if she had of acted with reserve and with advice suggested by Hon Galloway after the fact.That upon objective “reflect”ion Ms Turei would not have needed to “question his point of order” and seek further clarification on the use of “sleazy” as an inference. She should have heeded the point of order. I would like her to focus on three things Minister Joyce said. Firstly, The accusation by Mr Joyce that she was running a political campaign is rather ironic coming from him, but should let that go. but 2. that “NO” the “Cabinet discussed the conflict of interest” and 3. Consideration of the gambling problems we have in society be reflected in the constitutional review. Offering services that cause indirect harm to others, come with the responsibility to negate that effect.

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