Thursday, June 16, 2011

The VSM bill is doomed

For the past few months, Labour has been carrying out a highly successful filibuster of Heather Roy's Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill, talking out local and private bills (which take precedence) to ensure it is never debated. And it looks like the filibuster will be successful. Here's the details from todays progress in the House:

The resumed committee stage of the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill was interrupted with 15 clauses still to be considered.
So, they spent about two hours debating three clauses of the bill. They're entitled to one hour per clause, so we are looking at between ten and fifteen sitting hours to finish the committee stage, plus two more hours for the third reading. At four effective sitting hours per day, this eats every Member's Day from now until September, when conveniently there are two more local bills due back from committee to take precedence on the Order Paper.

Alternatively, we can look at it another way: there are 16 hours of member's time between now and the election, less if the government uses urgency (and they will). Roy's bill needs at least five hours to pass. Unless you're Bill English and believe in special Treasury maths, its pretty obvious that Labour doesn't need to work very hard at delay to ensure that Roy's bill does not receive a third reading this term.

So what if it doesn't? Well, then it all depends on the results of the election. The bill won't go away - if Roy loses her seat, it can be picked up by another member, as happened to Matt Robson's liquor advertising bill in 2005. But Labour is hoping that the numbers will be less favourable for it after the election than they are now. It's a gamble - but its a lot better than certain defeat now.