Thursday, February 12, 2009

No member's days under National

When Parliament resumed after the election, National immediately abused urgency to ram through controversial policies without the benefit of a select committee. Now the House is back from the holidays, and they're planning to do it again. In the business statement today, Gerry Brownlee announced his intention to invoke urgency to repeal the Electoral Finance Act. A side effect of this (and one explicitly confirmed by Brownlee) is that the Member's Day ordinarily scheduled for next Wednesday will not happen.

When National was in opposition, they regarded Member's Days as sacred. When the government was rude enough to collapse the House during member's business so ministers could attend a state banquet, they made the House ungovernable until leave was granted to continue the member's business that had been delayed. Labour learned its lesson, and respected member's days thereafter (with the exception of the usual end of year rush; OTOH the MPs whose business was delayed voted for the motion, suggesting they were happy with it, and Labour worked to proceed that business by adopting and passing the relevant bills). As for National, I guess its just another example of how their viewpoint changes depending on what side of the House they're sitting on. When they're in opposition, member's days are sacred. When they're in government, they're something to be trampled over with impunity.

In response, I'd suggest MPs of all parties repeat National's 2005 tactics, and fillibuster all business until the government relents and allows a member's day. Parliament isn't just a rubber stamp for the government, but a legislature - and it should be treated like one and allowed to have its say.