Friday, April 08, 2005


The opposition has got its revenge on the government for their gaming the Standing Orders to adjourn Parliament in the middle of a member's day so they could attend a state banquet - by doing a bit of gaming themselves after Question Time yesterday:

Under the rules any MP may at any time seek leave of the House to table a document or ask the House to take a certain course of action.

National and ACT MPs took turns to ask for leave to table each individual standing order - there are 397 - while National MP Nick Smith continually sought leave for Parliament to consider the members bill interrupted on Wednesday night by Dr Cullen.

Perfectly legal, and a potent reminder of why Parliamentary procedure should not be abused. And it was in a good cause - private members get very few opportunities to put legislation before the house, and that limited time is something that should be jealously protected. It is good to see National and ACT defending that time even for a bill they subsequently voted against.

But best of all, when the government finally relented and allowed debate to resume, the bill - Sue Kedgley's Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill - passed. It will now go to select committee for public submissions. Curiously, though, United Future refused to vote for it, saying that it was too costly for employers. I guess they're only friendly to the families of the rich...