Wednesday, August 08, 2007

An unusual procedure

Two weeks ago, the government's Weathertight Homes Resolution Services (Remedies) Amendment Bill passed its committee stage in the House. Everything was done and dusted, and it was expected to have its third reading and become law this week. So it's quite surprising to see near the top of today's Order Paper a motion to suspend Standing Order 261 in relation to the bill, allowing it to be recommitted for further amendments - amendments [PDF] which would at the last minute split it into an omnibus bill and amend the Building Act in a manner entirely unconnected with the purpose of the original bill.

Needless to say, this is a very unusual procedure. Taking the government's justification - the need to extend deadlines for local authorities to gain accreditation as building consent authorities - at face value, it displays both poor house management and incompotence from the Minister. If Clayton Cosgrove had any suggestion that such amendments would be necessary two weeks ago, it would have been a trivial matter to delay the end of the committee stage until they could be drafted. Instead, he seems to have been caught unawares, and so required Parliament to reverse itelf in order to perform a quick fix. OTOH, the specific provisions around dams smell a bit fishy - is the government trying to stack a deck somewhere?