Chris Bishop, Chlöe Swarbrick unite in criticism of Labour's 'patsy' questioning of officials

National MP Chris Bishop and Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick may not always see eye-to-eye, but they're united in criticism of Labour's "patsy" questioning of officials. 

Their frustration was pointed at Labour MP Dr Liz Craig, who chairs the Health Select Committee. During a briefing on the Government's COVID-19 response, Dr Craig let officials speak for 20 minutes about widely accessible information. 

It's not every day MPs gets the chance to grill Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain on the COVID-19 response. Dr Craig used the time to request the "basic science" behind managed isolation. 

Dr Bloomfield canvassed the risk of "airborne transmission", while MBIE deputy chief executive Megan Main discussed the "customer journey" that returnees have in managed isolation, from learning about the system, to entering a hotel and leaving. 

"That's a quick overview," Main said.

National MP Chris Bishop could be heard protesting quietly in the background about how the presentations had taken up 20 of the 50 minutes available. 

Nevertheless, Dr Craig described the presentation as "really, really useful", then offered up another two minutes for the officials to provide a recap of their presentation. 

Tremain, perhaps detecting frustration among MPs waiting to ask questions, said she would provide a brief summary. She canvassed more widely known information about how managed isolation is a joint venture between MBIE and the Ministry of Health. 

Bishop was clearly frustrated by how much time had been taken up. 

"I have a long line of questions and clearly we're going to have to come back next week for the session because we're now 25 minutes in," he said. 

Bishop's line of questioning led to Tremain's important revelation that a security worker at Auckland's Grand Millennium managed isolation facility, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, had not been previously tested since November.  

On Twitter, Bishop poked fun at Main's discussion of the "customer journey" for returnees, and criticised Labour for filling the briefing with "patsy" questions. 

"My journey consisted of listening to a 22 minute lecture, a few questions and then frustration as patsies filled the time."

Bishop requested to extend the meeting but it was voted down. 

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick also expressed frustration on Twitter. 

"We all deserve better, and Lab MPs are smart enough and talented enough to be able to push for better, more constructive outcomes through [select committees]."

Newshub has contacted Dr Craig for a response.

The Greens have for years been critical of the way ruling parties are given time to ask questions. In 2018, co-leader James Shaw controversially handed over most of the Greens' allotted question quota in Parliament's Question Time.

"The purpose of Question Time primarily should be to hold the Government to account," Shaw told Newshub at the time. 

"Patsy questions generally get used to make announcements or defend the Governments' position, and we actually have plenty of avenues to do that."