Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Return of the Bride of the Zombie Member's Day in 3D!

Its Member's Day, and like a bad series of zombie movies, the saga of Heather Roy's Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill drags on and on. Its been successfully filibustered by Labour for the past few months by the simple expedient of talking out the local bills which come before it. But the filibuster might be coming to a natural end, with the Westpac New Zealand Bill due to receive its third reading. Which means that this week, or in a fortnight, the House is going to have to make some progress on Roy's bill.

I expect that progress to be slow - there are all sorts of tricks you can use to drag out a committee session, and Labour will use them all. But they can't do it forever. OTOH, they don't have to. Beyond today, there are only five scheduled member's days left in the sitting (and the last one, in early October, won't happen as Parliament will be in the pre-election washup). The bill will take a minimum of two of those days to pass. That sounds comfortable, but it doesn't take much slippage, either due to filibustering or government urgency (and the government will be using urgency in this period - they have a booze bill and justice system reforms they want to get in place before the election) to push it out beyond the election.

As for those complaining about this process, this is what Oppositions are meant to do: oppose. And they have done it skilfully and well. They may still fail, but I cannot fault them for representing their constituents effectively and trying.