Dear readers, Parliament is now in urgency. That would be the fifth Parliamentary week in a row that we have gone into urgency.Perhaps its time to rename urgency as normalcy if this is the approach National is going to take.
In all seriousness, while there is a place for urgency, and (before the right begin to howl) all governments have used it, this is getting beyond a joke. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the complex the hearings on the Emissions Trading Bill are taking place from 9am to 9pm each day, with some submitters given only a few hours notice of needing to submit and then being given a very short time to state their cases. Concerns are being raised from those on all sides of the debate. It appears from media reports that National even tried to get the committee to agree to having all 184 people who wanted to submit in public put through in one day.
Lest anyone think these issues are ‘beltway’, the excessive use of urgency and the rushed select committee processes should be of concern to all New Zealanders. Apart from being anti-democratic, they open the door for bad and poorly considered law. There will necessarily be simple drafting errors but more than that Select Committees are either not getting a say or not getting enough time to properly scruitinise the Bills.
Earlier this year National put through the bill creating national standards for literacy and numeracy without a select committee process. In other words without giving parents, teachers, experts in the field the chance to have a say. Inevitably Anne Tolley has now had to delay the whole process to try to deal with issues that have come up since the Bill was passed. These could have been dealt with in a Committee. We all know about the ramming through of the Auckland governance legislation without any public process. There are numerous other examples.
As an MP I expect, and I am happy, to work hard and do some long hours. But whether I support the laws being passed by National or not, I want to know that I am part of upholding our democracy and making good law. That is being put at risk.