National bombs government with 6254 written questions

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

Curious Paul

LATEST: National responds

Newsroom correspondent Sam Sachdeva notes on Twitter, "There have been a whopping 6254 written questions submitted to government ministers by the Nats in the last month; for comparison, there were 964 during the equivalent period after the 2014 election."

From samples posted by Sachdeva and others, many of the questions seem to be trivial and repetitive (you can see the full list here).

It seems Labour pulled the same jape while in opposition.

Occasional NBR contributor Ben Thomas recalls from his time as press secretary to Chris Finlayson that the previous government was hit with more than 1600 written questions one December (Thomas's suggested response was to highlight the cost of each question to the taxpayer).

Then, and now, it's a childish tactic.

Every government needs a strong opposition that asks probing questions about its policies.

This is just schoolboy stuff and a PR gift to Ardern & co.

POSTSCRIPT
It's been suggested that the opposition is on a fishing expedition to expose government dealings with lobbyists. If so, it should get a bit more specific. We're a small country, with not that many people in the lobbying game.

The carpet-bombing approach allows ministers to brush off queries, e.g. this reply to Goldsmith:

And the endless questions about appointments are just part of the 6542 questions. There's also Shane Reti asking multiple variations on questions around what steps the government is taking to stop rugby league World Cup players taking mumps back to the islands, Brett Hudson asking the ICT and Broadcasting Minister what issues are in her portfolio and so on.


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63 Comments & Questions

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Complete twits

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Why? why not.

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agreed, it's like National's attempt to still be relevant...

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Wonder what Labour were up to in 2010 when they had over 8,000 written questions for National Ministers. Were Labour also complete "TWITS. Of course it was alright when they did it.

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8,000 over what period?

If it was in 2 months then yes they were twits. If it was over a year then probably still too many but not 6000 in two months.

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Why not ask 5-10 tough ones & chase them harder than Jack Tame when fobbed
This is why we need to kill MMP to get rid of dross

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The vast majority of the MMP dross (i.e. unelected list MP's) are sitting on the government benches !!!.

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All the dross is with National - sore losers and in denial

Still think that they have some God given right and are the natural leaders - even now that the Government parties are at 56% the highest level since 2010.
That's under MMP which is our electoral system that National and it's followers still fail to understand.

The sooner National gets rid of the old camp and appoints a new leader and senior team - the sooner they will gain in the polls and be a serious threat again
They need to GROW UP

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Let's see what the 56% say when all of the election lies come home to roost - as they have inevitably started to already.

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I thought given the God given right to rule, was the Labour party's thing. Their supporters certainly think that way. All the ones I've ever met anyway.

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Stick around the comments section here on NBR, then. You'll see plenty for whom National apparently "deserved" to be in government. Not to mention Nick Smith himself spouting this factually incorrect absurdity: https://i.redd.it/5x5lx7zgd1001.jpg

Even if Nick had taken the time to look across the Tasman he'd have been able to see how wrong he is.

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Sore loosers I dought. Absolutely no NZers voted for what we ended up with?

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I voted for this result.

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There's only one question worth asking:

Where the hell is Winston?

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Rumour has it he has gone to Germany. Wants to tell them how he now is in charge of the NZ Government. Also wants to tell them not to deal with the Party in Germany with the most votes, as smaller percentages of votes rule in NZ ,and how all his Coalition Partners dance to the beat of his decisions. Also wants to tell them what a great thing this MMP is.

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Weird, I'd think Germany well and truly knows how MMP works, given their government is a coalition of parties which individually did not receive the majority vote. But of course, researching political parties and systems and understanding how they works is a lot less fun than making ill-informed comments on the internet.

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Coleman is an electorate MP, Goldsmith would likely be one under FPP. Their frivolous questions are not the fault of MMP but because National obviously can't think of anything important enough to formulate genuine enquiries.

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My mum in-law has an old saying, " Never ask a question you don't already know the answer to".

Sounds to me like the Natz are taking the ....proverbial.

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You have to ask Labour written questions because they seem unable or unwilling to answer verbal questions.

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Its a bit rich coming from the lot who abused the OIA etc when in power to avoid answering questions

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Agree, this does seem like National simply cares much more about power than they do about what's good for New Zealanders.

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National looks silly here. For what purpose?

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National does look silly. Come on guys, you can do better than that. Stop wasting everyone's time and ask the questions that matter. sending an query for individual days rather than a blanket - please advise what you did from X - X - is petty. You want to show you are better than labour, then act like it

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Many of the questions are identical.

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"National bombs"

Headline could have stopped there, really.

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One written question in retort to trump them all:

"What is the grand total of the taxpayers hard earned money spent on this absolutely wasteful exercise?"

Quality over quantity.

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National really only has to do nothing. It wont be long before this 3 headed monster blows apart and Winston is the most resented man in NZ.

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Yes, but adding a bit of fuel to the fire can't hurt.

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Are you prepared to put your money where your mouth is?

I'm happy to take on the bet the current coalition survive the three year election cycle.

Why dont you ask some more probing questions, like are they still considering taxing capital? and when?

And another one might be, whether they are considering starting up a new zealand insurance company to bring some competition into the market?

Successive governments have pampered to the monopoly business; especially the overseas owned ones, and thats why we are now one of the most expensive countries to live in. Ask anyone thats lived for period overseas!

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Its probably not a bad idea for the public to know who is meeting who and what they are discussing, especially if there are lobbyists/donations involved.
In the US don't they have a register of everyone who comes to the white house and who they are meeting? Does NZ have similar laws?

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Hooray. I had begun to think that all of your commenters were senile. Of course we need to know who Ministers are talking to. The have billions of OUR cash to throw around. As we know there is a thriving lobbyist community springing up in NZ. We need to stay ahead of that trend. Especially if we want to maintain our reputation for honesty.

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The endless questions about appointments are just part of the 6542 questions. There's also Shane Reti asking multiple variations on questions around what steps the government is taking to stop rugby league World Cup players taking mumps back to the islands, Brett Hudson asking the ICT and Broadcasting Minister what issues are in her portfolio and so on.

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New Zealand is currently experiencing the worst epidemic of mumps it has had in decades. And those who are chiefly been infected are those who are unvaccinated. Rates of vaccination among Pacific Islanders here in New Zealand are low enough, but back in the Islands they are horrendous. It is a highly contagious disease, that can cause serious medical complications, including male infertility, in those it infects. A major outbreak in the islands would put a serious drain on their already limited health care resources. Questions directed towards the Minister about what steps are being taken to prevent the spread of the disease to the islands are neither trivial, inappropriate or uncalled for. In fact, those who are suggesting that are the ones who are out of order.

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So then he should ask one question about it, not multiple questions with slightly different wording -- making it look like his primary concern is to spam and clog up the government.

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Well said.

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It needs more than that. It's a serious issue.

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Then they should ask a serious question and allow people the time to reply properly. Spamming is not the way to go - if of course the person asking the question actually had any genuine interest in the answer.

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I understand that the reason the Nats are doing this is because the Government ministers are refusing to verbally answer questions as to who they are meeting with. It is difficult to hold the Government to account over conflicts of interest when you can’t see who is lobbying them.

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Well then ask written questions specific to possible about meetings with various lobbyists. We're a small country. There aren't that many. 

The carpet-bombing approach allows the government to fob them off with very general replies e.g. 

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Carmel's answer is not an answer, the question was specific, "Who did you meet with?", not "Please describe the parties you met with?".

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Your response contains the exact reason that National need to ask in writing; it isn’t an answer, the question as to who they met with hasn’t been answered, and it simply raises the question as to what she is hiding.

And there are a huge number of lobbyists; the entire Union movement could very easily end up running the direction of the country. In the same way that I do not shareholder collectives (companies) running the country, I also don’t want workers collectives to do the same.

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FYI, Bill English used these words to respond to the same question:

"I do not believe it is a good use of staff time to itemise my meetings or engagements, nor attempt to list the names of every person I met over the course of a month. If the member is interested in a specific issue or organisations then I might be able to provide more detailed information."

These words - or a very close equivalent - were used by various National Party MPs to request the same specificity from Labour. So National set the standard and we're now on the merry-go-round.

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Volume over value, aka economy over environmental, Aka foreign interests over nz provenance, the Nats have lost it?

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Labour want to destroy Landlords that provide housing to the taxpayer for free to provide for thousands of family tenants.

Landlords save the taxpayers billions of dollars every year by supplying houses.

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Forcing homeowners to do worthless upgrades will be very profitable to all those firms who specialize in worthless housing upgrades. That's why we need to know all the details when Lobbyists talk to ministers. There is far too much room for corruption otherwise.
When heat pump installers come into someone's home they don't ask about how impressive the roof insulation is. They just calculate room area and see how many windows there are. This just goes to show that over insulating roofs as the government is about to require is a waste of money and makes me wonder how the decision making process in government works.

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More like trillions of dollars

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I rent a house from a private landlord, I pay rent to them, but would be more than happy to get one of these free houses that landlords are providing - where do I sign up.

Renting property is a business it is not a charity, if the business environment changes then owners need to consider that and make their own decisions. Landlords are not providing some form of charity for the government.

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If your landlord could not pay his mortgage because Labour brought in ring fencing on tax then he would have to sell or greatly increase your rent.

Once most of the Landlords are forced out then the state (tax payers) will have to spend billions of dollars to house people such as yourself and thousands of other tenant families.

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Sorry I suspect landlords will be forced to sell properties. The new buyers will take into account market rents and the potential for capital appreciation. My guess is that property prices will fall.

It might get to the point where it makes economic sense for me to buy rather than rent.

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It's always amusing and telling too when a socialist and government sympathiser outs him or herself.

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He stayed on topic (unlike yourself)......spam is spam

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Let's not deceive ourselves - both major NZ parties are socialist.

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Childish. And pathetic.

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If these questions stop the nutters from implementing their crazy socialist policies then ask away all day and all night long for all I care

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They will not stop the government from getting things done, it might slow things up. but the one thing it will do is waste a lot of peoples time. Mainly admin staff that have to run around the respond to these questions. Is it any wonder that many are put off the who process around government.

This just shows how much of a stupid game this is to those invovled - from both sides. Time for people to grow up and focus effort on what matters.

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An example of why you have to ask questions
Before the election Twyford new all the answers and more regarding the housing crisis.
Now he is getting in experts,ordering reviews etc which means in essence he was talking rot.

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And they had a report saying that it was safe to reenter Pike River; now, however, they need to spend millions of dollars to determine whether or not it is safe to reenter!

It does seem like there were quite a few pre-election porkies being told, and it is the duty of the opposition (of whatever ilk) to hold Government to account over promises made. If this is the only way that they can get a straight answer (or at least show that they aren't getting straight answers) then so be it.

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Funny how labour wants to keep everything murky: costing, policies and whereabouts....

No doubt all their election lies will not be their fault.

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while not holding a large candle for the change I am a bit surprised at the shallowness when prodded of the National MPs...Goldsmith being a prime example...clearly didnt need to deal the real public to get in as MP as he seems unable to grasp the concept.

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The job of Her Majestys Loyal Opposition is to hold the Governments feet to the fire whilst applying the blowtorch to their Y fronts.

This means asking questions to probe the probity of all and every Government action.

When one has a Government with such lack of good governance skills one expects ones Opposition to probe probe and keep probing until the eye balls stand out like storks.

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Good to see, now National will all those questions from the public that they blocked anyway they could whilst in power.

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Agree, massively hypocritical behaviour from National here, including right down to the very detail of their responses to general requests for "everyone you're meeting with and when".

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Maybe the govt should commission another working group/review process to understand what they can do about this?

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