Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Too close to call?

It's D-Day for the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction: Purchase Age) Amendment Bill [PDF], and the vote is reportedly still too close to call. According to the Herald, its 43 to 34 against, with 13 favouring a split age and 28 unknowns. According to Dominion-Post, its 48 to 35, 12 splits and 26 unknowns. While this seems to favour those wanting to keep it 18, the split age faction will vote for the second reading, so the numbers are much closer than they appear (a lead according to the Herald, and a tie according to the Dom-Post).

At this stage, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope. Though emailing or calling some undecided politicians at the last minute probably wouldn't hurt (contact details and phone numbers here [PDF]). We really have left it rather late on this, which suggests keeping a much closer eye on the Order paper and "interesting" bills in future.

You can tune in and listen to parliament's webfeed here. As for when, it really depends on how long they take on the business ahead of it on the Order Paper. Parliament starts at 2pm, Question Time takes one to one and a half hours, followed by an hour of general debate - so business starts at 4 or 4:30. First up is the Rotorua Library Trust Fund Variation Bill, an uncontentious local bill, which might simply be passed by leave rather than debated (it happens with local bills). If this happens, then allowing two hours for the 100 MP Bill (which will get a thorough working over) means debate on the drinking age will start 7:30 - 8ish and the vote will be taken two hours later. If the Rotorua bill is debated, then push those times back by half an hour or so (few people spoke on the first reading, and I don't think they'll show any more enthusiasm). Note that this might push the finish time back beyond 10pm, which means a final vote won't be taken until the 22nd. But at least that would give us more time to work on those MPs who have not yet stated a position.


I don't see why the pro-18 MPs don't demand that the Rotorua Library Trust fund whatever bill gets examined clause by clause for as long as possible.

It's my opinion that it's far too easy to legislate in NZ.

We don't have:
- A second chamber (like Australia, the US, most of Europe and undemocratically, Britain).
- The ability for a minority of MPs to talk out non-government legislation (UK, US)
- An executive or presidential veto (US, Ireland, Germany)
- An ability to overthrow legislation that breaks constitutional rules (US, all ECHR signatories)

Why do we give so much power to a simple majority of MPs?

Posted by Rich : 11/08/2006 02:36:00 PM

Stalling for a couple of hours will only delay the passage of a bill by a month or so - possibly two at the moment, I'm not sure when Parliament breaks for the year.

When we did have an upper chamber it was utterly useless, and I'm uncomfortable with a veto. I'd support the latter of your options, though. It would require a) a written constitutional and b) some means of amending it that requires much more than a simple majority.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/08/2006 04:31:00 PM

having bureaucracy isn't all sugar and spice. One would want to see evidence that it adds value.

the question I would ask then is "does the NZ government legislate rashly?" Are they making incorect decisions future governments have to tidy up?

or are they making quick correct decisions?

Posted by Genius : 11/08/2006 04:31:00 PM

I think we have a lot of petty authoritarian, wowserish laws that wouldn't get passed if the legislative process had more checks and balances.

Posted by Rich : 11/08/2006 04:42:00 PM

Rich: it just whipped through in less than half an hour (with its 3rd reading at the same time, to boot), and they're on to 100 MPs. Which may not go as long as I thought, so we'll almost certainly see a vote tonight, maybe as early as 9:15.

(I'm quite comfortable with unicameralism, but its the lack of solid human rights protection that mostly bothers me. We need to entrench the BORA, dammit).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/08/2006 04:55:00 PM

It just went down 71-49.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/08/2006 09:52:00 PM