Patsy Question leads to major embarassment

When the government gets to ask a question in the house they usually open with a patsy question that allows the Minister to do one of two things, either claim success for some thing or other or seek to embarrass or ridicule the Opposition.

Question 7 today by Labour toady Jill Pettis was designed to option two, that is continue to heap oppribrium upon John Key over Iraq. i bet Labour was wishing they had thought a little bit harder about that approach right now as the question turned into a major self inflicted injury in the parliament.

[quote]Iraq?New Zealand Troops

7. JILL PETTIS (Labour) to the Minister of Defence: What new reports has he received on New Zealand committing troops to Iraq?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Defence): I have seen the transcript of a Radio Dunedin interview last Friday with Mr Key. In the interview, Mr Key explained his statement of 11 February 2003, where he had said that he was prepared to commit the SAS and combat troops to Iraq in response to a request from the United States, as follows: ?The comments they are referring to were comments of me saying, effectively, are as, I might add, a junior?the 27th out of 27; the most junior backbencher in 2003?to my local community newspaper.? That may have been the excuse, but it does not explain why he told Campbell Live, on 28 May 2007?and continues to say?that it had never been his personal view to support sending troops to Iraq. That denial is obviously untrue and misleading, and he should simply come clean and admit that.

Jill Pettis: Can the Minister advise the House of what else the report states?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The report quotes Mr Key as now claiming that even though he supported the war in Iraq, he would not have sent troops there. Again, that statement, last Friday, contradicts his earlier statements, and that statement must be misleading and must be untrue. But he also said in the Rodney Times on 11 February 2003: ?New Zealand should be prepared to fight for the values it believes in.? He is now saying that he believes in the values behind the war but that he would not fight for them. [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: I will ask the Minister to repeat his answer in silence. Will the Minister please now complete his answer as succinctly as possible, in silence so that we can all hear it.

Hon PHIL GOFF: Mr Key, having said that New Zealand should be prepared to fight for the values that it believes in, is now saying that he believes in the values behind the war but that he would not fight for them. That position would be regarded by friends and allies of New Zealand as a rather gutless one, as opposed to not being there for reasons of not supporting the war.

Keith Locke: I seek leave to table two relevant documents. The first is a media release this afternoon from Air New Zealand, explaining that the mainly Government-owned Air New Zealand sent two charter flights of Australian troops to Kuwait

Leave granted.

Keith Locke: I also seek leave to table a release, also of this afternoon, from Investigate magazine, saying that the Government was consulted on the sending of Australian?

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.[/quote]

And then the explosion echoed in the deathly silence from the government benches.?