Thursday, February 25, 2010

More stats on urgency

Over on Red Alert, Charles Chauvel has the headline stat on urgency for last year: 254 hours and 53 minutes out of 644 hours 1 minute, for a total of 39.5% of the House's time (compare this to just 10% of the time in the entire 48th Parliament).

But buried in the full stats (courtesy of the Parliamentary Library) is something even more interesting: 165 hours 6 minutes of that time was spent in committee - and 107 hours 48, nearly two thirds of the total, was spent under urgency. The committee stage is where the House considers possible amendments and final changes to a bill before passing it. And the government is systematically abusing urgency to limit that process. The result is insufficient scrutiny, and bad law.

This government has made a remarkable change in the way our Parliament makes law. And it is not one for the better. Instead, we're seeing laws rammed through under urgency in a deliberate effort to prevent debate and limit adverse media coverage - just like they did in the 90's. Old undemocratic habits die hard, I guess.