It began when Murienua Opposition MP James Beer posed a question to Health minister Nandi Glassie about whether New Zealand provides direct aid or input to his department.
The line of questioning, about whether core sector funding from New Zealand went into health (as well as tourism and education) led to Finance minister Mark Brown calling a point of order.
“He’s asking a question on information that is readily available in the official publications, namely the budget book,” Brown said
Beer responded with his own point of order, and his explanation drew laughs from the MPs
“The minister has made a point of order, but has continued to talk about the point of order, so it is no longer relevant to the point of order,” Beer said.
“Primary school stuff, James,” Internal Affairs Minister Albert Nicholas said over the laughter.
Glassie then called his own point of order, which was when Rattle put her foot down.
“One thing about calling points of order is that we don’t get on with any business of questions, so I think it is time that we go back to where we follow the standing orders of how to ask questions,” Rattle scolded the ministers.
“So if you ask questions that will create points of order, it just wastes time.”
Beer said that he had not finished his question, which earned a rebuke from Rattle, and he then changed his line of questioning to Glassie.
“Should he not apologise to the New Zealand government for ignoring the fact that it is contained in the core sector funding that his budget and ministry receive?” Beer asked.
“That wasn’t the question,” Brown said.
When Glassie demanded that Beer sit down so that he could respond, Rattle once again laid down the law.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but the fact is that we’re having a parliament meeting. Control yourselves and be careful about the questions that you ask,” she said.
“I’ll give you the floor, on the condition that you stick to the questions and be done with it.”
Glassie responded to Beer’s initial question by saying that no money from New Zealand comes into their domestic budget, but rather from the finance ministry.
“New Zealand Aid has offered $7 million and that is for the core sector support budget, which doesn’t come into health, it goes into the MFEM,” Glassie said.
“And it is their job to control the $7 million, which is to be distributed to health, education and tourism. So therefore, it is not within the local budget of health.
“There is no need for me to apologise, as there is no money coming into the local budget. It is coming, but from other agencies,” he finished.