Sledge of the Day – How to call another MP stupid and get away with it

Anne Tolley delivers our sledge of the day.

She calls Carmel Sepuloni stupid?and?is asked to withdraw after Sepuloni takes offence. ?When someone asks why she doesn’t apologise she states, “Because it is?true.”

Typical of Labour MPs, they’ve taken offence at something blindingly obvious and then drawn attention to the fact by protesting about it.

Now everyone knows that Carmel Sepuloni is stupid; all doubt has been removed.

Anne Tolley sledged her out and got away with it. ?



Carmel Sepuloni: Does she agree with her own ministry?s report on household incomes that 305,000 kids are in poverty on her watch and this number has gone up by 45,000 in 1 year alone?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The member misquotes the Ministry of Social Development?s report mischievously. As the report itself stated, to use that figure would be mischievous, because in fact it reflects the median income raised by 3 percent. The opposite to that is that you could reduce child poverty by reducing the median income, which just shows how stupid the member is to quote that figure.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The last part of that answer will clearly lead to disorder.

Carmel Sepuloni: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take offence at the last comment made by the Minister. I ask her to withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: I was about to do that, but then there was so much interjection coming from my left. On the basis that it has now been raised by the member, I require the Minister to stand and withdraw the last part of that answer.

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I withdraw the last remark. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: A point of order, Grant Robertson, and this will be a point of order, I expect.

Grant Robertson: You required the Minister to withdraw that statement. She subsequently interjected across the House that she was not going to apologise for it because it was true, which I believe runs counter to your ruling.

Mr SPEAKER: If the Minister did interject, I would be most upset. I am asking the Minister: did she interject in that vein?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I was reacting to a comment?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the Minister then did?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: No, I am sorry, it was to another comment that told me I was supposed to apologise. I said: ?No. It?s true.?

Mr SPEAKER: For the benefit of all members, when offence is taken at any remark, I consider the tone of the question, the words, the way they were used. I am the sole determinant of the action that is then taken. It might, in some cases, require a member to withdraw the comment. It may, in some cases, require a member to withdraw and apologise for the comment. And in very extreme cases it may require the Minister or member to leave the House, if I so decide. But I am the determinant of that, and I determine it on the basis of each incident. It is difficult for any member to compare one with another. I will make the decision.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I absolutely understand that, and I do not think that that is the issue in question. The issue in question is where a Minister, or any member, is required to withdraw, or withdraw and apologise, and then basically uses an interjection to say: ?But I don?t mean it.? In this case the Minister withdrew her comment and then interjected, whether it was in response to you or to someone else, to say: ?I didn?t mean any of that.? That actually makes the whole process meaningless.

Mr SPEAKER: The difficulty is I did not hear the interjection. [Interruption] Order! I then took it up with the Minister, who said at that stage that she was responding to a further interjection from somebody else. It is difficult to go back. If the Minister had taken the opportunity of then saying she did not agree with the withdrawal of this comment, I would do something about it. I cannot be sure that that was the case.