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Twyford’s Three Strikes, but he is not out. Yet! Media fail to hold Twyford to account. How surprising!

29/06/2018

In an earlier post Adam highlighted how Speaker Mallard gave Phil Twyford a bollocking in the House., though Twyford was not physically in the House to receive it. However, Mallard’s censure forms part of the Parliamentary record.

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald filed a story on this. It was adequate, but it could have been far stronger.The article was factually accurate, but it did not condemn Twyford for his behaviour. Given that Mallard had called out Twyford for his actions, it was not unreasonable to expect Trevett to at least adopt the degree of censure that Mallard had.

The Speaker has reprimanded Housing Minister Phil Twyford for some of his answers to National MP Judith Collins. Trevor Mallard said they showed “contempt for the accountability” the minister had.

Mallard ordered Twyford to provide more informative answers to Collins and awarded National an extra 20 questions next week, saying it had been denied the opportunity to use written questions to scrutinise the Government in a timely manner.

“The answers are an abuse of the written question process. In my view they should a contempt for the accountability which a Minister has to this House.”

He said ministers should make a serious attempt to provide an informative answer. “These questions do not come close to meeting that standard.”

Yet Ms Trevett was not really trenchant in her criticism.

The answers Twyford was reprimanded by the Speaker for related to the KiwiBuild programme -a policy the pair regularly spar over.

This preceding remark reads like a form of justification for Twyford

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins said he agreed the “flippant comments” used by Twyford did not reflect well on the House, but pointed the Speaker to the tone of some of the questions, saying they invited such an answer.

The example Hipkins used was Collins asking how many more “sleeps” were required before a decision was made on the eligibility rules for KiwiBuild.

Collins had asked that question on June 7, and referred to Twyford’s comment in Parliament two weeks earlier that there were “only a few more sleeps” before those rules would be clear.

Twyford’s reply had been “It depends on how frequently the member sleeps”.

Mallard said because Collins had been quoting Twyford’s own term, it could not be ruled out of order.

No analysis, no real condemnation of Twyford nor of Hipkins for seeking to excuse Hipkins.

Trevett is better than this. Why is NZ media so weak over the Ardern regime? If this had been a National minister the media would have been shouting about this from the roof tops.There would have been demands for resignation. The Greens would have been outraged . John Campbell would have ponderously pronounced on the appalling behaviour. what do we have – silence. Deathly silence.

Especially when Trevett notes

It is the third time in the past few months that Twyford has faced a telling off – he admitted to using a cellphone after the airplane doors closed, a confession flushed out of him by Collins putting in a series of written questions about it.

Twyford was also scolded by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after dismissing Treasury analysts as “kids fresh out of university” because he disagreed with their analysis.

Given that this is Twyford’s third strike, so to speak, and coupled with the way he has repeatedly sought to denigrate Collins, one might have hoped for much more.

However, it is clearly a vain hope. NZ media is still bewitched by Jacindamania and is affording a Twyford a pass, when if it was National we would have seen multiple condemnatory articles, led by the likes of John Campbell.

At the least one might have expected some comment as to the hubris and arrogance displayed by Twyford. Further there might have been some comment as to how Twyford, Little, Clark, Davis and Jones seem to be exhibiting a most unfortunate pattern of behaviour with their attitudes and behaviour. Furthermore, given Ardern’s past pledges on openness and transparency Twyford, Clark and Davis in particular have signally failed in that regard.  But, no comment at all.

However, Trevett was at least better than Henry Cooke’s lacklustere piece at Stuff.

NZ media are not doing their job of holding the Ardern regime to account.

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