Thursday, May 29, 2014

A shambles

That's the only way to describe what happened last night over the vote on Sue Moroney's Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill:

A bill sponsored by Labour MP Sue Moroney to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks failed to pass its second reading in Parliament last night and has caused a row over the vote.

The bill had a slim majority on its first reading, with only National and Act opposing it, and National promised to use its financial veto if it passed its third reading.

But the Maori Party's three votes were cast against the second reading in a proxy cast by chief Government whip Louise Upston.

The Maori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell has since confirmed that this was an error, and that they would be seeking leave to have the vote corrected. The question now is whether National will do the unthinkable and deny that leave. The other question is whether National whip Louise Upston is going to face a Privilege complaint for miscasting a proxy (something described by the Speaker as a serious contempt), or whether we'll be reminded once again that Parliament's internal disciplinary procedures run on politics, not rules. [See correction below - I/S] Either way, Parliament has once again brought itself into contempt with this mess; if they can't even cast their votes correctly, why should we trust them at all?

Correction: So apparently it was the Maori Party's fault, not National's. Their proxy was not miscast, instead someone filled in their proxy form incorrectly. Parliament has now granted leave for the vote to be corrected, and the bill has been restored to the Order Paper. So, the right outcome, but Parliament still looks like a House of Muppets. If they can't even vote correctly, you wonder what they can do.