Greens in surprise Question Time deal with National
The Green Party says from this week, most of its allocation of questions for Question Time will be handed over to the Leader of the Opposition to use.
The surprise deal with National is aimed at “patsy questions” in Parliament, which are usually asked by a backbencher or support party when the government wants to brag about an achievement.
National leader Simon Bridges quickly accepted the offer.
Green leader James Shaw says the move will strengthen the ability of Parliament to hold the government of the day to account.
Mr Shaw says the only exception is if the Green Party wishes to use a question to hold the government to account on a particular issue, consistent with the party’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour, which acknowledges the ability for the parties to agree to disagree on certain issues.
He does not expect other parties to follow the Greens' example.
The Greens will press for further changes to Question Time, he says.
“The Canadian government has recently trialled changes to Question Time after Justin Trudeau campaigned to do so. This shows parliamentary systems are not set in stone and should be open to regular review and change to ensure our democracy is healthy and well-functioning."
This is the second time this month that Mr Shaw has challenged the status quo, and in a manner that many mainstream voters are likely to consider common sense.
On March 3, Mr Shaw announced a ban on Green MPs accepting corporate hospitality. He also pledged that Green ministers would publish their diaries every three months.
The move was strongly supported by NBR readers but was met by vague, watery responses from other parties.
What about abolishing patsy questions in favour of brief ministerial statements (or just abolishing them all together)? Waste of time and embarrassing process for backbenchers.— Chris Keall (@ChrisKeall) February 22, 2018
Nothing worse for a govt backbencher than asking a patsy question. Can't English just make a statement to the house? https://t.co/IArahGfQ94— Chris Keall (@ChrisKeall) February 15, 2016