Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More members days?

Today at the begining of Question Time, National's Gerry Brownlee proposed a novel solution to the government's rapidly thinning Order Paper: more member's time. Rather than considering government business next week, he suggested that the House pass by those bills (most of which cannot be progressed anyway), and instead devote the week to Member's Bills. Conveniently, the first item of business on the new agenda would be Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill - allowing it to be dealt with quickly while relieving any need for urgency.

It's an excellent idea, but according to Michael Cullen, not possible under Standing Orders. However, anything is possible with leave, and it would be a trivial matter for an MP next week to ask for leave of the House to treat the day as a Member's Day. I doubt it would succeed, but it is worth the effort.

In the long term, if the government isn't going to advance a legislative agenda, the Members should be free to. And the way to do it is by making every Wednesday a Members Day, at least until the government gets its act together and comes up with something it wants to do.


What happened to the good old days when MPs actually had more time to debate issues of the day? At the moment the only opportunity is the one hour general debate on Wednesdays, unless something qualifies for an 'urgent' debate, the threshold for which is pretty high. I'm actually keen to see more generalised debates on issues of the day, not all of which need lead to legislation. Debate is an essential part of democracy, it shouldn't be limited only to the issues regarding which legislation is currently being considered.

Posted by Chris : 3/27/2007 11:25:00 PM


The slow, gentle shift in power away from the sitting govt and towards parliament continues.

I approve, both of the move itself and of its speed.

Posted by Mr Wiggles : 3/28/2007 10:15:00 AM

Chris: have you actually listened to or read the Hansard of a general debate? It's not a pretty sight.

Day to day accountability is supposed to come through Question Time. Sure, there's some game playing, but the mere fact that someone from the government has to show up and answer questions before Parliament (unlike, say, the US) is an important check on their power.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/28/2007 11:59:00 AM

I vote that the politicians have every Wednesday off work.

Do not pass anymore inteferring legislation do not go to the behive.

Do not get out of bed, let just see if NZ crumbles without them.


Posted by Lawrence of Otago : 3/28/2007 05:14:00 PM

Well, yes, the Wednesday debate is a farce, but parliamentary debate has not always been that way. The General Debate is that way because it has no rules, it's basically designed to be a venting session for MPs. The point I am raising is that they way things are now, the only issues that get debated are those concerning legislation. But there are so many wider issues that parliament should be giving attention to. How we do this is another issue though...

Posted by Chris : 3/28/2007 08:56:00 PM