Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No Member's Day

Today is Tuesday.

Yes, of course its not - but it is in Parliament. Yesterday the government put the House into urgency just because they could, meaning that it is nominally Tuesday until they decide it isn't (which will likely happen sometime on what we in the real world would call Thursday evening, or maybe Friday morning). Tuesday lasting all week means that Wednesday doesn't happen, which means that there is no Member's Day. Yes, once again the government has just walked all over the (already extremely limited) rights of Parliament and eaten the valuable and limited time of Members so they can get a few extra hours for such staggeringly important legislation as the Subordinate Legislation (Confirmation and Validation) Bill and Social Assistance (Payment of New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension Overseas) Amendment Bill. Interestingly, by doing so they've avoided a messy debate on John Boscawen's child-beating bill. But I'm sure there's no connection at all. Really.

The government's legislative style is increasingly looking like a re-run of the 80's, with legislation introduced under urgency to avoid public debate, and rammed through in minimal time with little scrutiny. They can do this because they have an easy majority, thanks to compliant support parties willing to rubberstamp urgency in exchange for a seat in the back of a Ministerial Limo. Its a perfect warning of the danger of such arrangements - and of the need to hamstring government in future.