Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A legislative logjam?

The KiwiSaver Bill passed its committee stage today (surprisingly fast), and looks set to receive its third reading tomorrow. But looking at the Order Paper [PDF], the government still has an awful lot on its plate to get through, including a lot of time-consuming committee stages. And they have more bills due back from Select Committee, meaning a steady buildup of business.

Normally, this would be handled by the simple expedient of going into urgency for a cleanout a few times a year (the government did this four times in 2005 before the election, and seven times in 2004). But the new Parliament is less willing to grant urgency than the old one - so far, they've had the traditional pre-Christmas cleanup, and then one brief period to correct the disaster of the Land Transport Amendment Bill. And apart from that, they've had to do things the slow way. Not that this is a bad thing - urgency results in a lot of bills being put through in a short time, meaning less scrutiny and attention paid to each, and it was grossly abused in the 80's for precisely that reason. But it is likely to mean that legislation is passed more slowly than in the past, and that there will be less of it. The upshot is that the government will have to really prioritise on which bills it must push through, and which ones it can bear to leave lying around as potentially unfinished business.