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Accountability merely a charade for the Government

Hon. Roger Sowry

Opposition Leader of the House

22 February 2000

Accountability merely a charade for the Government

"Do as I say, not as I do, seems to be the way this Government intends to operate" says Hon Roger Sowry, Shadow Leader of the House.

Mr Sowry was commenting on the effect of a ruling given in Parliament today by Speaker Jonathan Hunt.

Mr Sowry had asked the Speaker to give a ruling on the effect of the schedule of responsibilities delegated to Associate Ministers and the consequential effect this had on the ability of the Opposition to to ask Associate Ministers questions in the House.

"The delegations determined by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, contained a number of references to Associate Ministers having 'no specific delegations but a general role in policy development' in respect of portfolio responsibilities.

"For example, the Hon Tariana Turia is an Associate Minister of Corrections, Housing and Mäori Affairs, all with no specific delegations. Likewise, Hon Philida Bunkle has no specific delegations in her roles as Associate Minister of Economic Development and Associate Minister of Environment.

"Mr Speaker has ruled that he cannot allow questions to be asked of Associate Ministers if they have no delegations of responsibility given to them by the Prime Minister Helen Clark. This is an appalling device used by the Government to avoid weak Associates being held accountable for their actions in the House.

"While the Government demands public servants to be held accountable for their actions, it is evident that its' strong stance does not extend to Ministers themselves.

"The Government is content for Associate Minister to receive Minsterial salaries, cars and houses, but is less keen when it comes to those Ministers fronting up to the House and being accountable for their actions", said Mr Sowry.


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