I see that the usual stooges and shills for Labour are already preparing the ground for David Shearer’s shellacking at Question Time by suggesting that it is not that important to perform well in the house. But if question time doesn’t matter – why did Labour make such a song and dance about it when Brash was the National Leader? This is one of many examples.
from Lianne Dalziel:
The bottom line is that Dr Brash does not like asking questions in Parliament, because he finds it demeaning. He thinks it is a bit beneath him to come to Parliament and ask questions. Here he was today in Parliament, large as life, and there was not one single question on the Order Paper from the Leader of the Opposition.
I think there is a reason for that, too. When he gets up to ask a question, he is not very good at it. Own goals are his particular forte.
They even lined up former Clark staffers to write opinion pieces in the Herald:
Dr Brash, it seemed, had everything on his side – a rallying cry over racial issues that resonated with voters, the promise of more barn-burning speeches to come, and a Government threatening to haemorrhage over the foreshore and seabed issue.
Yet in the most public face of our democracy, he was conspicuously absent.
In March, Parliament held 10 question times. During that month, and at the height of his post-Orewa prominence, Dr Brash contributed less to question time than Winston Peters, Peter Dunne, Rodney Hide or Jeanette Fitzsimmons.
He spoke less than his deputy, Gerry Brownlee, his predecessor, Bill English, or the person many pick as his successor, Simon Power.
March was a tumultuous time for the Government, but Dr Brash asked the Prime Minister only two primary questions and five supplementary questions. In total, she answered 75.
Further, since the Budget speech in May, Dr Brash has been responsible for only four of the 156 primary questions to be asked and a mere 14 of about 780 supplementary questions.
Nobody could accuse him of hogging the limelight, though some would wonder why he hasn’t.
Dr Brash’s “where’s Waldo” act is certainly not typical of other Opposition leaders in New Zealand – remember the commanding performances of Jim Bolger, David Lange and Mike Moore – or overseas.
…Dr Brash can reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of looking bad in next year’s leaders’ debates. Practice makes perfect, and he has a ready-made practice ground waiting for him in Wellington most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
He may have to swallow some pride and take some hits from the Prime Minister, but that is the price of taking responsibility for his party’s fortunes, especially in the rough and tumble world of New Zealand’s increasingly presidential election campaigns.
If Don Brash doesn’t get used to the cut and thrust of Parliament’s question hour now, he runs a significant risk of consigning his party to three more years in opposition during the next election campaign.
And Peters used to rib Don Brash for his house performances describing him as ‘fearless’ and ‘the great debater’.
Hon. RICK BARKER: I want to know why Don Brash is not here taking the lead for the National Party in the Wednesday debate. Why was he not here today asking questions?
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member knows he is not allowed to refer to the absence of members. He will desist.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask you to clarify your ruling. I think the Minister might have made a mistake when he said that Don Brash was not here to take the lead, but it is appropriate for him to say that he is not taking the lead in this debate.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member clearly made a reference to his not being here.
Hon RICK BARKER: I stand corrected. The point is that Dr Don Brash is not leading the debate this afternoon for the National Party. Neither was he leading question time for the National Party. It is quite obvious that the leadership of the National Party is absent. It seems that the National Party leadership has pressed the mute button, not the play button.
So when you hear from Labour this time round that Question Time and debates in the house are only for those tragics who reside literally and metaphorically inside the beltway, then know too that they are lying and their own words and history betray their lies.
Question Time and parliamentary debates are important, we know this because Labour made them important.