19 Mar 2019

A brief and sober House - Parliament after the shootings

From The House , 9:00 am on 19 March 2019

UPDATED: The plan for Parliament this week has changed. The written article below reflects these changes.

The first order of business for Parliament when it resumes on Tuesday will be a statement from the Prime Minister on the Christchurch mosque shootings, followed by responses from other party leaders.

And then, very unusually, the House will adjourn until Wednesday afternoon. The last time that happened was after the Christchurch Earthquake.

The House

The House Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

When Parliament resumes on Wednesday it will be with a different energy according to the Leader of the House, Chris Hipkins, who is responsible for managing the Government's business in the debating chamber.

“I expect that question time will be a fairly sober reflection on recent events. There’ll be some serious questions obviously, but I don’t think there will be a lot of politicking during that. I think that people will want to again maintain a respectful and restrained tone during question time for the rest of the week.”

In fact, Wednesday as well has since been shortened as well, and Parliament will adjourn after an extended general debate.

The General Debate or Taupatupatu Whānui is typically a raucous contest but not this week, when the focus will again be the events of last Friday, Minister Hipkins said.

“That may well end up being an extended General Debate. I know that there are a number of people who are already lining-up to speak in that, including people who are local members of Parliament; those with strong connections to the ethnic communities and so-on.”

The planned sitting for Thursday will now not take place, and after Wednesday's General debate the House will adjourn until April 2nd. Next week is a planned adjournment week but this week's Thursday sitting will be missed.

Speaking of the original abbreviated plan for the week Chris Hipkins had noted that the tone would be different.

“Everybody’s of the mind that whilst Parliament should continue, [and] we should not let an event like this disrupt Parliament from continuing. We also don’t particularly want to get into regular ‘politics as usual’, and so we’ll be aiming to keep the tone of the House very measured, very respectful, as much as we can this week.”