It looks like today’s questions were a coordinated effort by opposition parties to make the prime minister answer questions and not have him fob them off to someone else or deny he has any responsibility to answer it. I thought Duncan Garner was a political journalist once, so surely he would have known this? Or is this fobbing off questions a new thing, unique to Team Key?
When MPs ask Key if he “stands by all his statements” he has to answer questions that are put to him and not pass it on to one of his Ministers. If they simply asked him about a particular subject, he can blow it off and not answer it by saying he has no responsibility for that portfolio, thereby wasting a valuable question. The government does this so the prime minister is kept from having to answer tough questions and/or be associated with dodgy, useless, inept, corrupt, etc, government ministers and departments.
For example you could ask Key about the state of operations at a particular DHB, he could claim he has no ‘ministerial responsibility for that’ and pass the question to his Minister of Health to answer. Or he might have made the claim a health department is operating very well, but when it’s proven it isn’t, he can simply deny he has any knowledge or responsibility for it. Whereas asking him if he “stands by all this statements” (usually it is only in relation to a particular topic) but to make the point the opposition parties gave him no wiggle room today by asking if he stood by all his statements since becoming prime minister, means he has to answer, and truthfully, MPs including the PM can not to lie to or mislead parliament. It’s probably the worse thing a politician can do.
Passing off questions has been happening a lot with this government and it frustrates democracy. A country needs a strong opposition (regardless of your politics) to hold governments to account but if they are hindered in the very house where they are meant to get answers for the public, from the very ministers or a prime minister who serve us, then there’s not much an opposition can be, but inept – and that doesn’t do anyone any favours. I applaud what the parties did to day. More of the same please.