Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some stats on urgency

How bad is National's abuse of urgency? I've just obtained some hard data from Parliament, and it speaks for itself:

  • The 48th Parliament sat for a total of 1503.75 hours between 2005 and 2008. Of that time, 148.75 hours - 9.9% - were under urgency.
  • The 49th Parliament has sat for 545 hours since its election in 2008. Of that time, 183 hours - 33.6% - have been under urgency.

So there you have it. Not only is National using urgency more than three times as often as Labour - they've already sat for more hours under urgency than the previous three years of Labour-led government. Quite an achievement.

Labour's low use of urgency wasn't due to any virtue on their part; rather, they simply didn't have a majority for it except for the rare cases where it was actually necessary, or the pre-holiday crush. By contrast, National's rubberstamp support partners give it an easy majority, which they are abusing in full autocratic style. The result is a return to the "elected dictatorship" of old, when the government does whatever it wants and Parliament is reduced to a rubberstamp "fastest legislature in the west".

This autocratic approach to government is one of the reasons people voted for MMP: to hamstring government, slow it down, and thereby bring it back under control. Clearly, we didn't do a good enough job last time round...