Parliament is in recess this week, so there probably won't be much political news unless Taito Phillip Field shows an unexpected strand of decency and resigns. But this does allow me to catch up on a few things - and one of the things I've been meaning to catch up on is Member's Bills. I've been covering these fairly intensively since the beginning of the year, so here's some statistics and answers to questions nobody has asked:
- How many bills have there been? There have been 70 Member's Bills submitted to the ballot so far this session. I've managed to blog about 56 of them, either individually or in an In The Ballot post.
- How many have been drawn? 33 of those 70 bills have been drawn, so the odds have been just under 50%.
- Who uses the ballot? The most prolific users of the ballot have been National, with 24 bills submitted. However, this only 0.5 bills per MP. The most prolific per MP have been ACT, with 8 bills between 2 MPs. The Greens score well in both categories with 16 bills submitted (2.66 per MP).
- Who has the ballot mojo? Clearly, it's the Maori party, who have a perfect hit rate - the only bill they've submitted so far was drawn on its first ballot. Beyond that, ACT has been clearly running ahead of the odds, with 5 bills drawn. The Greens have had 8, and Labour 4. United Future are the unluckiest party; despite having had bills in the ballot all year, they haven't had a single one drawn (though given the nature of those bills, I'm not entirely displeased about that).
- What is the ballot used for? The highest profile bills last term have been those on "moral issues" - prostitution, the drinking age, the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill. This is still a heavy theme (e.g. Death With Dignity, gay adoption), but there's also been a heavy emphasis on the RMA and Treaty of Waitangi. Many bills are concerned with minor tweaks to legislation, some of which are subsequently taken up by the government; the role of the bill then is simply to promote an issue.
- Do they pass? According to the Progress of Legislation report, 16 Member's Bills introduced this term have been set to select committee. 7 were voted down, and 2 were discharged. Another 8 are still on the Order Paper awaiting their first reading. However, no bills introduced this session have passed into law yet.
Unfortunately, the fun may be about to end - there may be no ballots for a while. Why? Look at the Order Paper: a large number of bills given their first readings earlier in the year have now returned from Select Committee, and so their second readings (and those of local bills) will likely eat all the time before Christmas. Meanwhile, there's more bills due back from committee - Easter Sunday shop trading and s59 in November, and more in December and January - and eight bills waiting for their first reading. So it might be quite a while before we see a space open up on the Order Paper again.