Kelvin cops another spanking over his plans to release more than 3000 bad bastards from prison

It is pretty sad to watch the Acting Prime Minister and Corrections Minister, a man pushed as a leader and a brilliant politician by the media, get his arse handed to him by a relative newcomer.

Trevor Mallard’s missus, Jane Clifton, gets in on the action unfolding in the house:

It’s a mistake to assume that when the Opposition asks the Government a question, it always wants an answer.  The whole point of its new favourite sport of questioning acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis in Parliament is that it knows it will barely get a peep out of him.

The deputy Labour leader has clearly been instructed not to extemporise while he’s holding the fort during the prime minister and deputy PM’s overseas absence. Or indeed at all. The once-garrulous and combative MP had a few over-excited blurts when he was first elected Jacinda Ardern’s deputy in August, and has since been under orders to return to his much earlier persona of strong-and-silent type till further notice.

This has reduced him to Sir Humprey-isms like “Decisions will be announced in due course” and “The Government will be looking at all available options before making a decision.” Such empty phrases are so alien to the former school principal, he might be reciting Swahili.

And Simon O’Connor chalked up both of those in his questioning of Davis:

It would have been better if parliament could improve the quality of their systems. Perhaps Jane’s husband, as Speaker might like to sort that out?

To assist, here is the Hansard transcript:

11. SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by the comments reported that he is looking at ways to exit a deal under which the Government is to build a 1,500 bed facility at Waikeria; if so, how does he intend to accommodate the forecast increase in prisoners?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Corrections): My preferred option is not to have to build more prisons. I’m aware that the previous Government had committed to the build, but this Government will be looking at all the options available before making a decision.

Simon O’Connor: What specific and measurable targets for prison capacity reduction has he set for next three years, given the forecast growing prison population?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Any decisions around targets will be made in due course.

Simon O’Connor: In light of that answer, is the Minister signalling that he will be releasing violent offenders into the community, given that over 75 percent of all those in prison are there for violent offences, and the Minister has been quoted as talking about reducing the prison population by 30 percent?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, that’s just ridiculous.

Simon O’Connor: Is the Minister saying that his previous quotes are ridiculous?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, I’m saying that the member’s previous question was ridiculous.

Simon O’Connor: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If quoting a member’s, in this case, a Minister’s, own comments back at him are then being reflected back at the member—it seems to be an inconsistency.

Mr SPEAKER: I think it probably doesn’t add much to the tone of the place, especially when the member’s maths are being questioned like that. But I think it’s not a point of order.

Barbara Kuriger: What advice has he received about the impact any exit plan would have on the rural communities of Ōtorohanga and Waipā, in particular related to any commitments made by the local councils to the project?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We haven’t made any decisions, but, when we do, we’ll take all of those interests into account.

Barbara Kuriger: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked if the Minister had received any advice.

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No.

Kelvin Davis might have been a school principal once, I suspect it was of a special school.

 

-Fairfax

 


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