Paula Bennett compares Question Time to 'warped quiz show’

The AM Show 24/05/2018

Paula Bennett has likened Question Time to "some weird warped quiz show", after a recent session caused the deputy National Party leader to walk out.

"It's kind of madness in there," Ms Bennett told The AM Show.

"The master that is the Speaker sort of sits there dishing out penalties and rules that you've got no idea what it's going to be that day."

Ms Bennett was questioning Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about education spending when she was asked by the Speaker to rephrase her question.

She made a point of order, saying "the use of taking away and gaining supplementary questions does question our ability as the Opposition to actually put the Government on notice".

The Speaker then said he regarded Ms Bennett as being "grossly disorderly", and rejected her second point of order.

"I'm leaving," Paula Bennett said in reply. "What a waste of time."

According to Ms Bennett, Mr Mallard made her "come in and apologise and withdraw” on Wednesday evening.

"And I can honestly say I have no idea what for. So I think I said 'what's the point?' and that's what he took great offence to. But... he has the power, so he made me stand and withdraw. And it's just nonsensical really.

"This stuff all sounds silly and it is but it's important that we're actually able to ask the questions, know how many we have in a day, have that place kind of run."

Ms Bennett says she'd like to find a "middle ground" with Mr Mallard.

"I actually have a huge amount of respect for the position of Speaker. I don't even have to agree with all of the rules, I just like to know what they are.

"I don't think that's too much to ask for."

After being announced as Speaker last November, Mr Mallard introduced a disciplinary system on supplementary questions as a way to quieten the house.

"One of the basic rights of any Member of Parliament is to ask a question," he said.

"It is how we hold the Executive to account. I was finding it was becoming very hard to hear questions because the other side were making a lot of noise."

The new system means members who interject during Question Time lose a supplementary question to the other side of the House.

After his standoff with Ms Bennett, the Speaker said the new system had actually worked in National's favour.

"I absolutely reject any suggestion that the National Party have been not been able to ask the number of questions over this Parliament than they would have been otherwise. That's just not true."

Watch the full interview with Paula Bennett above.

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