Last Thursday saw an unusual scene in the House: the Unsolicited Electronic Messages (or "anti-spam") Bill passed its committee state, and the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion (Repeal and Related Matters) Bill received its second reading, all without a single word of debate. ACT, which had opposed both bills, did not raise a word in protest. National, which had vigorously opposed moves to pay the disabled the minimum wage at the first reading, remained silent. The Greens, who had raised some thoughtful concerns about spam and its use by some political parties, didn't speak up - and they remained silent on a basic human rights issue. United Future passed up the opportunity to rant once more about the tide of pornography flooding children's inboxes. The Maori Party didn't talk about the Treaty or the impact on Maori. And of course government ministers failed to speak in support of either bill, and junior colleagues did not take their place.
All very efficient, of course - the bills just whizzed through - but I don't think this is what we are paying our politicians to do. We elect them to be our representatives; is it too much to ask that they actually bother to do one of the most basic aspects of their job, and actually represent us? Or do they all just have better things to do at 17:00 on a Thursday afternoon...?