Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Member's Day

Today is a Member's Day, one of the last for the year. Unfortunately we're well into the late-term logjam, where the Order paper is blocked by the later stages of bills sent to select committee early on, and so there won't be much overall progress.

First up is the committee stage of Paul Quinn's Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill, an appalling piece of legislation which would prohibit anyone in prison from voting. Quinn has introduced an amendment to patch the select committee's drafting error, which would have seen a bill about banning prisoners from voting actually allow it for anyone imprisoned prior to its passage, but the core problem - that it bans people from voting in an arbitrary and capricious fashion, in violation of the Bill of Rights Act and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, remains. If this passes, it will hopefully result in a test case followed by a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR's First Optional Protocol (to which we are a party). Which means international humiliation. But Quinn either isn't planning on being in government to deal with that (HRC cases take years), or he just views it as another excuse to bang his drum and whip up hate.

Once that's done, we have the last half hour of the second reading of Heather Roy's Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill, followed by the second reading Tau Henare's Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill. There's a common link between all these bills, and its spite - spite towards prisoners, spite towards students, and spite towards unions. If this is how government MPs use power, then I pity whoever was at school with them.

If we're lucky, we might, just might, get started on Sue Kedgley's Animal Welfare (Treatment of Animals) Amendment Bill. But with the Order paper blocked up by all those second readings, we're unlikely to see a ballot anytime soon.