The Gunning-Fog index is a commonly used algorithm to determine the readability of English writing. (Details on the wiki page here. See also the comments section.) I wrote a perl script that reads in Hansard transcripts from Question Time and looks for sentences that score an 18 on Gunning-Fog, which ranks as incomprehensible, and then replaced that sentence with the word AAARRGGGGGH! Here’s how Hekia Parata’s most recent oral question plays out.
6. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education: What specific criteria were used to determine whether a school in Christchurch was identified for restoration, consolidation or rejuvenation?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education) : Tena koe, Mr Speaker. AAARRGGGGGH! However, it is important to note that those categories describe learning community clusters, and not individual schools.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister’s answer has given me an explanation of what each of the categories are. I have asked for what the criteria were in order to put schools within those categories.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member has got a legitimate grievance because the member actually asked what specific criteria were used to determine whether a school was identified for restoration, consolidation, or rejuvenation. The Minister, in answering, gave criteria for clusters. If she could clarify for the House whether that applies to individual schools, that would be helpful because that is what the question asked.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: AAARRGGGGGH! They do not relate to individual schools.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the Minister.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Schools were specifically listed in her proposal under one of those headings, and I have asked the criteria on which they were listed under those headings. That is a primary question, and it is not an unreasonable question.
Mr SPEAKER: I accept absolutely that it is not an unreasonable question, and that is why I sought clarification from the Minister. What the Minister seems to be pointing out to the House is that those three classifications—restoration, consolidation, or rejuvenation—did not actually apply to individual schools. As to what the Minister has told the House, I have got to take the Minister’s answer at face value. I cannot second-guess that. The Minister has given an answer to that question.
Chris Hipkins: What specific criteria were used to identify whether a specific school was proposed for a merger or a closure?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Sorry, could the member repeat the supplementary question?
Mr SPEAKER: I invite the member to repeat his question.
Chris Hipkins: I will try. What specific criteria were used to identify whether a specific school, an individual school, was proposed for a closure or a merger?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH!
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If I am going to help members on this matter, they should be a little silent. I think it is not unreasonable—the primary question asked what specific criteria were used to determine whether a school in Christchurch was identified for restoration, consolidation, or rejuvenation. The Minister in answering that question pointed out those three categories applied to clusters of schools, so the member has not unreasonably now dug further into that answer and asked then what criteria were used to identify schools for, I think his language was, merger, which is similar to consolidation, or closure, which is highly relevant to some schools in Christchurch. That is not an unreasonable supplementary question, and I am ruling that it is not an unreasonable supplementary question.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH! That is what—
Hon Members: What are they?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH! Those are some of the criteria.
Chris Hipkins: Were the assessment of earthquake damage and the likely cost of repair for each of the schools proposed for merger or closure based on a physical inspection of each site and building; if so, who conducted that assessment?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH! Some of them involved book assessments. AAARRGGGGGH!
Colin King: Was the change in demographics taken into account when developing the criteria?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Yes, it is a people-related issue. AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH!
Chris Hipkins: Was a physical assessment of the earthquake damage done on each of the schools that she proposed for merger or closure before she proposed that; if not, why not?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: AAARRGGGGGH!
Mr SPEAKER: Tracy Watkins [Interruption]—Tracey Martin. I beg your pardon. My goodness.
Tracey Martin: Kia ora, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I beg your pardon.
Tracey Martin: Kia ora—
Mr SPEAKER: My apologies to the House.
Tracey Martin: Can the Minister assure the House that parental elections for boards of trustees will be held within 6 months of any consolidation or merger of schools in Christchurch as per the requirements of the Education Act 1989?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH!AAARRGGGGGH!
Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I apologise. Perhaps I missed it. I understand the time line around mergers might not be quite clear at the moment, but my question was whether the elections for boards of trustees would be held within 6 months of any consolidation or merger as per the Education Act 1989.
Mr SPEAKER: I invite the Minister to actually answer that question.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Yes.
Chris Hipkins: Did she review all of the information prepared by the Ministry of Education on the likely or estimated cost of repairing schools that she was intending to propose for merger or closure, before she made the decision to propose those schools for merger or closure; if not, why not?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Yes.