Lockjaw Smith guard dog | The Jackal

17 Feb 2012

Lockjaw Smith guard dog

On 10 October last year, I wrote to Lockwood Smith to make a formal complaint concerning John Key misleading the House of Representatives about what Standard & Poor's had stated.

The next day, Lockwood Smith responded by email (SpeakersOffice3@parliament.govt.nz), saying that honesty in Parliament is of utmost importance, particularly in the context of question time. He went on to say:

A member who had evidence that another member had willfully misled the House would be expected to raise the matter with the Speaker at the earliest opportunity, for the Speaker to consider whether to refer the question to the Privileges Committee. It is for the Privileges Committee to undertake any investigation.

Yours sincerely

Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith

At the time, I understood that to mean that my complaint would be considered, because I had provided evidence to a member of the House of Representatives that John Key had been willfully misleading, and that it was up to the Speaker to refer it to the Privileges Committee.

Then last week I came across this NZ Herald article:

A number of changes to the way Parliament is run will help ensure more integrity from MPs, less use of urgency and greater public scrutiny when Parliament sits again today. 
Changes to the standing orders adopted in November include an order designed to keep ministers more honest by allowing Opposition MPs a chance to respond if they feel a minister has damaged the MP's reputation.

"The Speaker can enable the member, where there is evidence that the member has been adversely affected, to respond [in the House] to that misrepresentation," Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith told the Herald.

"At the moment there is no such mechanism. A breach of privilege complaint could also be dealt with in this way."

Dr Smith said he had received many complaints in the previous term about ministers' answers to oral questions, but had not referred any to the privileges committee because the threshold was high.

"But there have been some where there was a reasonable reason for grievance, yet we've had no mechanism to deal with that.

This will improve the tone of the House, and encourage ministers not to make careless statements they don't know to be fact."

How high that threshold has to be is anybodies guess. But there is no doubt in my mind that John Key misled the House of Representatives in an attempt to discredit not just one Member of Parliament, but an entire political party.

Yesterday, I wrote back to Lockwood Smith requesting information on the progress of my formal complaint. Today, I received a response by email (amelia.abplanalp@parliament.govt.nz) from Lockwood Smith's Private Secretary Research and Communications Adviser in the Office of John Key Amelia Abplanalp, who writes:

Members of the public cannot raise matters for referral to the Privileges Committee. I regret that this was not clear to you from my previous response
Yours sincerely,


Amelia Abplanalp | Private Secretary
Office of Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith

Her response? I thought Lockwood Smith had written the initial email.

That aside, why is Lockwood Smith claiming in the media that changes will ensure more integrity and increased public scrutiny, when this is obviously not the case?

Only somebody without a modicum of impartiality would think John Key had not misled the House of Representatives over the S&P downgrade debacle. With Lockwood Smith as Speaker, it appears that the public has no proper process of redress either... and that's simply fucked!