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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard


Oral questions—Answers

SPEAKER: Members, I have been concerned at the number of answers from Ministers being used to attack other parties in the House. This is not permitted by Standing Orders and Speakers’ rulings—Standing Orders 205(4), 205(5), and 181(3). Of course, Ministers can comment on activities of the previous Government which they have had to confront while in Government—Speaker’s ruling 180/4—but that is not an invitation to make attacks on members of the Opposition. I don’t want to have to intervene, but I will do so if the Standing Orders continue to be breached.

Having said that, questions with a partisan tone can expect a political answer and there is no point in appealing to the Speaker in those situations—Speakers’ ruling 187/1. Questions that ask a Minister how they would respond to a comment from a member of the public fall into this category. Questions that invite comparison with policies of a previous Government also invite Ministers to comment in critical terms.

Question time works best when members ask Ministers straight questions. When that happens, members should expect a straight answer, and the Speaker can assist them in getting one.