Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In the ballot XI

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Resource Management (Overdue Consents) Amendment Bill (Colin King): This would amend the RMA to require local and regional authorities to meet the time-lines laid out in the Act, and provide an incentive by specifying that a late consent is a free consent (that is, that the local authority forfeits any charges). Provision is made to ensure that necessary delays in the process - for example, requests for further information - restart the clock. The aim here is to reduce time delays and costs to applicants, and I expect it will do the former. As for the latter, local authorities are empowered to recover "reasonable costs" of applications and such, and to the extent that they have to hire extra staff to meet their deadlines, they may simply increase fees. Arguably, though, that's what they should have been doing in the first place, rather than having a hidden subsidy in applicant's wasted time.

Corrections (Mothers with Babies) Amendment Bill (Sue Bradford): This would amend the Corrections Act 2004 to allow children under the age of two years to be accommodated in prison along with their mothers. Currently the Corrections Regulations 2005 allows babies under six months to be accommodated in this way, and the bill duplicates these provisions while extending the time limit. The justification is to allow breastfeeding and avoid CYFS placements - CYFS apparently being so bad that even prison is better than a foster home. However, its also worth noting that other countries permit far longer periods of parenting in prison than we do - in Australia it varies from one to six years, Canada allows four, and even Japan allows one. It's worth voting this bill to Select Committee simply so they can have a thorough look at the issues involved.

Human Rights (One Law for All) Amendment Bill (Rodney Hide): According to the explanatory note, this is aimed at eliminating "race-based" government programmes. It purports to do this by amending s21A of the Human Rights Act 1993 (which says that only certain parts of the Act apply to the government) to include pretty much every specified form of discrimination - access to places, vehicles and facilities, provision of goods and services, land, housing and accommodation, and education - but only in regards to discrimination on the basis of race, colour, or ethnic origin (Rodney not caring about discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, marital status, or any of the other grounds prohibited in s21).

There are two problems with this. The first is that it is unnecessary; s19 of the BORA bars government discrimination on any of the grounds specified in the HRA, and Part 1A of the Act reinforces this by specifying that such discrimination is a breach of the Act. The second is that such an amendment still would not outlaw the programmes Rodney is targetting, as s73 of the Act (backed by s19 (2) of the BORA) provides a blanket exemption for "measures to ensure equality". If Rodney really wants to ensure the stunted, purely formal "equality" of "one law for all", then he needs to repeal both of these provisions as well.

As usual, I'll have more bills as they trickle in.


Do we know if Hide will be bothering to turn up for his own bill, or will he be too busy with his dancing show?

Posted by Anonymous : 5/23/2006 07:31:00 PM

It hasn't been drawn yet. But if you check the Order Paper [PDF], you'll see that Rodney has delayed the consideration of his Local Government (Rating Cap) Amendment Bill until July - presumably because he has other engagements.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/24/2006 12:23:00 AM