Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee Chair Todd McClay has announced he expects to report the Asset Sales Bill back to the House six weeks early, instead of the original date of 16 July.
How 1448 submissions, of which 9 were in favour and 1421 were opposed, (0.6% in favour and 98.1% against) can be adequately condensed beggars belief.
But as we know National will try almost anything and when you have Treasury write its departmental report before hearing all submissions, anything is possible.
In doing so the government has abused the normal processes of the select committee and bequeathed a series of problems for future governments to rectify.
Unless there’s urgency and whether you’ve won an election or not, governments put legislation through a select committee process for two good reasons.
Firstly, you want to get it right. This bill is full of holes – many of which you can drive a bus through. The copious faults identified by expert and community submitters are compounded by a process of inadequate consideration and pre-emptory deliberation.
Secondly, you should give submitters the right to have their say because they might actually have some good ideas to improve or amend the bill. So why did they bother even going through the select committee process? This is the government telling the experts and the community that they don’t want to listen.
It’s clear that these tactics were used to limit adverse publicity and attempt to undermine the nation-wide petition for a referendum, rather than enable the committee to go about its business in a thorough and properly considered way.
No evidence was given showing this bill will improve the economic, social and fiscal position of New Zealand. This legislation will only increase power prices, increase asset inequality and make New Zealanders poorer and more indebted to the world in the long-term.
We will know early next week if they plan to sell our assets under urgency. In the meantime listen to my interview on Radio New Zealand this morning.