On 16 November Revenue Minister Stuart Nash wasn't in Question Time following an embarrassing gaffe where he'd advocated for the introduction of GST on online goods imported from overseas. Finance Minister Grant Robertson was forced to slap down Nash, saying that it would be considered as part of the government's tax working group.
Nash was also set to get caught up in Kelvin Davis' disastrous stint as Acting Prime Minister, where he was to be asked questions from National's Chris Bishop.
When asked why Nash wasn't in Question Time to front up to questions, his office claimed that Nash had been delayed in Auckland after attending a chartered accountants conference and hadn't made it back to Wellington until after Question Time.
Given this, I asked of Stuart Nash's office for a copy of his Ministerial diary for that day, including "actual flights taken". It turns out, Nash wasn't delayed in Auckland. He was back in Wellington and interviewing a potential advisor until 2.15pm.
Either Nash's office lied to Radio New Zealand when asked about why he had dodged Question Time, or they've supplied incorrect information in replying to my OIA. Either way, it's another entry in the list of mounting embarrassments for Stuart Nash who was meant to be one of Labour's raising stars, but only seems to be lowering the bar for ministerial incompetence.
Here's a few highlights to keep an eye out for this week in politics:
Monday 13 November
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, and Trade Minister David Parker (I think!) are in Manila on Monday for the East Asia Summit. At this stage it looks like PM Ardern will hold formal talks with Canada's Justin Trudeau, the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte, China's Li Keqiang, India's Narendra Modi, Indonesia's Joko Widodo and the European Union's Donald Tusk. PM Ardern is also looking at catching up with Australia's Malcolm Turnbull, who is currently looking down the barrel of his worst poll results ever and the potential of a spill within the Liberal Party or an early election rearing their heads.
- Due to so many Cabinet Ministers being away, I don't think Cabinet will be meeting today.
Tuesday 14 November
- With PM Ardern's East Asia Summit wrapping up, she won't be back in the country until Wednesday at the earliest (but more realistically Thursday).
- The House is sitting, so there'll be caucus runs from between 9.30am and 10am, and the provisional Order Paper has Questoin Time, the continuation of the Address in Reply debate with maiden speeches (there's still 12 hours and 2 minutes remaining of this debate).
- Iain Lees-Galloway's Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill is likely to be debated in the evening, with the bill going through urgency.
- Stats NZ have their National Population Estimates to 30 September 2017 being released, this is the NZ-wide figure, subnational estimates are released on Thursday, but expect this to kick off a debate about immigration and population growth.
Wednesday 15 November
- The House is sitting again, so Question Time as per usual, and I believe this may be the first Member's Day of the 52nd Parliament, so hopefully we might see Chris Bishop's Films, Videos, and Publication (Interim Restriction Orders) Amendment Bill passed. There's 90 minutes of debate left on this, so it should get through as it did have plenty of support in the previous Parliament.
- Stats NZ releases include:
- Māori Population Estimates - a good chance for new Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta to articulate her vision for Māori Development in the Labour-led Government.
Thursday 16 November
- PM Ardern should be back from the East Asia Summit, but she won't be in the House, and more likely will be doing engagements in Auckland.
- The House continues to sit, so Question Time.
- Stats NZ releases include:
- Ready mixed concrete, secondary production - an indicator for the construction industry
- Transport vehicle registrations - this will likely trigger debates about the mix of investment in New Zealand's transport infrastructure
- Births and deaths: Year ended September 2017
- Subnational Population Estimates at 30 June 2017 - this will likely be a catalyst for discussion about which regions are doing well/poorly, so look for Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones to be asked what he's doing about it.
Friday 17 November
- Stats NZ releases Business Price Indexes - an indicator of inflation specifically related to the cost of doing business.