Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Signs of a sinking ship?

I may be reading too much into things but a couple of exchanges in the House today made me thing that Clark's cabinet colleagues are preparing to abandon ship. The first indication was during question three:
Hon Richard Prebble: Does the Prime Minister recall accusing in February 1999 the then Prime Minister, Mrs Shipley, of “prevarication and evasion” regarding a private dinner between Mrs Shipley and Kevin Roberts; further, does she recall demanding that all documents be tabled, and issuing an election statement on 23 November in which she said: “Labour will drive a culture of change, starting at the top.”; if so, as she has admitted that she leaked confidential documents—for which any member of her administration who leaked them would instantly be fired—and as she has admitted that she anonymously confirmed a false statement, then allowed the newspaper to print a false statement on which she had “declined to comment”, is this what she meant by “a culture of change, starting at the top”; if not, will she take the advice she gave Mrs Shipley and resign?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I lost count after about eight questions there—
Helen is right to comment on the excessive number of questions (actually four, not eight). When Jonathon Hunt was Speaker, he would say something like "there were X questions in there, the Minister can answer two". So what does Margaret Wilson, hitherto known as Helen's dependable dogsbody, say?
Madam SPEAKER: I am sure the Prime Minister can address those questions

The second exchange is Michael Cullen complaining about "perverse incentives" in question eleven. What I found curious was not that he interjected here but that he was silent while Helen was being grilled extensively. Normally when Ministers are being given a severe drubbing (such as George Hawkins during question times passim), Cullen is usually there to help out. Instead his silence seems sullen.

But then again, I could just be reading too much into the transcript.