Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘parliament’

National gets more whipping

Posted by on January 28th, 2013

Just before Christmas the Remuneration Authority released their determination regarding MPs pay. Naturally, all of the media focus was on the fact that MPs were getting a pay rise just before Christmas and it was to be back-dated. Personally I agree with the idea that MPs pay and entitlements should be set on a 3 yearly basis and changes should only come into force following each election, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Hidden away in the determination was another interesting little change. Political parties with more than 45 MPs are now entitled to a second junior whip position. So with Michael Woodhouse taking on a ministerial role, and Louise Upston almost certain to step in the Chief Whip’s shoes tomorrow, National will now have to elect two new junior whips. The smart money seems to be on Tim McIndoe and my Breakfast TV sparring partner Jamie Lee-Ross.

I agree with the decision to increase the number of whips big parties can have. It’s a big job and under MMP it’s getting even bigger. But it’s interesting the National government decided to implement the change now, rather than wait until after the next election, when it wouldn’t look quite so much like they were changing the rules to suit their own interests.

Lockwood raises the bar, again

Posted by on January 22nd, 2013

At some stage over the next few weeks, possibly as early as next Thursday, parliament will elect a new Speaker. As an opposition MP I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but we’ll be sad to see Lockwood Smith go. As Speaker, he has raised the bar in terms of ministerial accountability in the House. His most significant ruling, that when asked a straight question ministers should give straight answers, has changed the whole nature of Question Time. That ruling will remain in place long after his departure, although whether the new Speaker has the ability to implement it with the same precision and diligence is yet to be seen.

Just before Christmas, Lockwood raised the bar again, this time relating to ministerial accountability outside the Debating Chamber. Under parliament’s rules MPs are also allowed to ask written questions of ministers. There are a lot more of these and they don’t always receive the same level of attention questions in the House do. But they’re a vital information channel for the opposition, and they’re another way we can hold ministers to account for their performance and the performance of their departments.

Late last year Labour asked a series of written questions about the Novopay fiasco. The Minister in charge Craig Foss tried to brush them off by saying they were ‘operational matters for the Chief Executive’. This reply has been used by successive governments to sidestep bad news. However, the days when Ministers could duck for cover in this way seem to be over. In replying to Labour’s complaint on the matter, Lockwood Smith ruled:

“I note that there is no convention that Ministers are not answerable for operational matters, but that a Minster is not prevented from replying in those terms. These rulings related to a minister being questioned on operational matters for which a crown entity had responsibility. I expect a higher standard for answering questions relating to a department for which the Minister is responsible. A minister should be able to give informative replies about the actions of such a department.”

“As you have noted, the record shows that the Associate Minister has provided the House with information on this matter in response to questions for oral answer. Ministers are no less accountable to give informative replies to questions for written answer.”

Craig Foss subsequently provided more fulsome answers to our Novopay questions. But the effect of this ruling will extend well beyond this one instance. If the new Speaker maintains this new high standard, the improved level of accountability we’ve seen at Question Time will extend beyond the walls of the Debating Chamber. That’s a good thing.

The new Speaker will have big shoes to fill. All the more reason for the government to nominate a candidate who will have the respect of all sides of the House.

Ombudsmen (Cost Recovery) Bill

Posted by on July 26th, 2012

One of the Bill’s that was drawn from the ballot today is unlikely to gain as much attention as others, but it could have quite a significant impact on the way government operates. The Ombudsmen (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill, in the name of Shane Jones, allows the Ombudsmen to set guidelines for recovering the costs of their investigations from the agencies being investigated.

Sound pretty uninteresting? Consider this: the Ombudsmen are the people who investigate alleged breaches of the Official Information Act (among other important roles). If the government is trying to hide something, they are the ones who can force it into the open. They play a vital ‘safeguard’ role within our governing system. But currently they can’t keep up with demand.

During the 2011 financial review of the Office of the Ombudsmen, the Chief Ombudsman stated that the office was ‘in crisis’ due to its high caseload and inability to meet demand. Only a minor increase has been recommended as part of this year’s Budget. This extra funding will cover increases in salary costs but will do nothing to address the more than 300 cases that are presently unallocated and awaiting further consideration.

This Bill allows the Ombudsmen to set guidelines for recovering the costs of their investigations from the agencies being investigated. This will ensure that resourcing constraints do not deny access to due process, and will promote greater compliance with legislative requirements by government departments and agencies.

Providing the Ombudsmen with the ability to charge those departments or agencies who are the subject of Official Information Act 1982 investigations is likely to improve compliance with that legislation (which currently contains very weak compliance provisions).

So, not the sort of stuff that’s going to set the political world alight with excitement, but a very important debate to have all the same.

Maiden Speech Timetable

Posted by on February 8th, 2012

Here is the timetable for Maiden Speeches as I understand it at the moment (the allocation of exact time slots is a matter for each party and they may switch people around a bit):

Wednesday, 8 February 2012:

  • 4.30 pm Tracey Martin, NZ First
  • 4.45 pm Andrew Williams, NZ First
  • 5.00 pm Richard Prosser, NZ First
  • 5.15 pm Brendan Horan, NZ First
  • 5.30 pm Denis O’Rourke, NZ First
  • 5.45 pm Asenati Lole-Taylor, NZ First

Thursday, 9 February 2012:

  • 3.45 pm Mike Sabin, National

Tuesday, 14 February 2012:

  • 5.00 pm David Clark, Labour
  • 5.15 pm Andrew Little, Labour
  • 5.30 pm Megan Woods, Labour
  • 5.45 pm Rino Tirikatene, Labour

Wednesday, 15 February 2012:

  • 4.15 pm Mojo Mathers, Green
  • 4.30 pm Steffan Browning, Green
  • 4.45 pm Julie Anne Genter, Green
  • 5.00 pm Jan Logie, Green
  • 5.15 pm Denise Roche, Green
  • 5.30 pm Eugenie Sage, Green
  • 5.45 pm Holly Walker, Green

Thursday, 16 February 2012:

  • National Party members (order TBA)

As the new MPs complete their speeches, I’ll add a link to the video clip. If you’re a bit impatient, you can find them on

Reflecting on yesterday

Posted by on October 6th, 2011

In a lot of ways I would rather not write this post, but I have been reflecting on what happened yesterday in the Parliamentary debating chamber and there are some things I want to say. The incident itself is not a political matter It was an awful experience, and had potential tragedy written all over it. The man who tried to throw himself into the chamber just a couple of feet from where I was sitting, clearly is troubled. Like many people I see in my electorate office it sounds like he has major problems with government agencies, and he was agitated. He was heading over the balcony head first, to a four metre drop, onto a collection of desks, chairs and people. To me it was the act of someone with deep and difficult issues and problems. I hope he is now getting help to deal with those.

The actions of the security guards and members of the public who pulled him back and then had to struggle further with him were courageous and certainly saved him and others from serious injury. I know that all MPs are grateful for their actions. From our party, Phil managed to speak to the guard before he was taken to hospital and Annette visited him last night in A and E (where, I am told, he waited nearly 6 hours before getting medical attention), and I understand he is doing ok today.

But there is a political element, and it was introduced by the Prime Minister. I just can not fathom his reaction. I could not hear everything he said, and it is not picked up on video because his microphone was not on, but from talking to others, it is quite clear he was talking about the incident and saying “Labour should be ashamed”, and that is “down to you”. He then did a strange gesture moving his hand across his throat (you can see it at 2.06 on the video below). What follows from that is the angry reaction from Labour members, and what I think was a very measured and calm response from Phil Goff.

Emotions were running high for all of us, and I accept that the PM would have been as disturbed as anyone in the Chamber. But now that he has had time to reflect, would it hurt for him to acknowledge that somehow trying to link Labour to the incident was wrong, inappropriate and highly likely to cause extreme offense? He has said he was making some reference to DPS. I am not sure what the connection was actually, albeit a DPS officer assisted once the man had been hauled back over the balcony. In any case, that does not make it right to link Labour with the incident.

Parliament can be a high emotion, robust and stressful environment, and in the heat of the moment some terrible things get said. If Mr Key had come out and said yesterday that he was sorry for linking Labour to the incident but that it was a very stressful time, he might actually have gone up in my estimations. Unfortunately, he has gone down.

Why we’re supporting this Bill

Posted by on August 18th, 2011

Today the Labour Party is taking the unusual step of supporting the National Government passing a Bill through all stages of Parliament’s process under Urgency. We’ve been pretty critical of National’s use of Urgency to avoid select committee scrutiny so I think it’s important we explain why we’re supporting its use in this instance.

In 2008 a major re-write of the Police Act was passed by the previous Labour government. It’s a big and complex piece of legislation and mistakes were made. Under the law, if someone is discharged or found not guilty of a crime, their photographs and fingerprints have to be destroyed by Police, but if they are found guilty, they’re kept on file.

Inadvertently, the law was changed to prevent the Police retaining the photos and fingerprints of young people where they were dealt with by the Youth Court rather than the District Court. In other words, even if the young person was found ‘guilty’ by the Youth Court the Police would have had to destroy their photographs and fingerprints.

This needed to be fixed under Urgency because once the mistake was publicly known young offenders who had been convicted using identifying information the Police had stored could have had grounds for appeal.

The Bill that Parliament is currently passing effectively restores the status quo. It reverses a law change that was made by accident, without debate, without select committee scrutiny, and without anyone even knowing it was happening.

The Green Party and the M?ori Party are voting against the Bill currently before Parliament. Some of their arguments are based on process; that Urgency creates bad law and the Bill deserves select committee scrutiny. As I’ve noted above, on balance I don’t accept that in this case and think there is a legitimate case for Urgency.

But some of the arguments being raised in opposition to the Bill raise wider policy issues. I agree that these are legitimate debates, but this is not the appropriate time to raise them (I would also note that when the substance of the law was being debated, neither the Greens nor the M?ori Party felt sufficiently strongly about the issues at the time to even speak about them and that part of the original Bill was passed unanimously).

As I’ve said, I don’t like the use of Urgency to pass laws in a hurry without proper debate and scrutiny. It should only be used in exceptional circumstances. In this instance I think Urgency is warranted.

John Key ain’t no statesman

Posted by on August 16th, 2011

Trevor Mallard got tossed out of the House this afternoon for calling John Key a chicken. It was probably a fair call on Lockwood’s part, it wasn’t a particularly dignified remark, but nor was the behaviour from the PM that prompted it.

Labour set down several questions to the PM on young people today. Key transferred the one from Phil Goff to Paula Bennett. He couldn’t do that for a subsequent question lodged by Annette King though, so Phil and Annette basically swapped. Annette asked the question to Bennett, while Goff sought to ask the question of the PM.

However, our PM has clearly decided that answering questions from the Leader of the Opposition is beneath him, so he simply walked out of the debating chamber, leaving Bennett to answer on his behalf. Whatever took him away clearly can’t have lasted long, because he returned later to answer questions from other members.

Pretty poor form for the PM to duck answering questions about his own comments.

Taxpayer support for Brash?

Posted by on April 29th, 2011

It wasn’t so much a hostile takeover as a buy-out. Don Brash threatened to shut off the money to ACT unless they made him their Leader, in much the same way he threatened to shut off the money to National unless they did the same eight years ago. So now he’ll be leading ACT from outside Parliament until the election in November, when he supposes he’ll be back in Parliament.

All of this begs the question of how ACT will manage without a Leader in Parliament? Over the road the penguin is jumping up and down about Hone Harawira’s taxpayer-funded travel, but at least Hone is a duly elected MP. Will any taxpayer resources go into supporting Don Brash, the non-MP ACT party Leader? Will he have access to their Research Unit and media team? Will any of ACT’s taxpayer funded promotional material have the Don’s mug on them? Will any of their parliamentary staff be reporting to the party Leader?

I’m sure after the fuss they’ve made about the use of parliamentary resources in the past, the National government will go out of their way to ensure the ACT party don’t inappropriately use theirs…

A different Question Time format?

Posted by on April 16th, 2011

I recently had the opportunity to visit the European Parliament (not at the Kiwi taxpayers expense) and witnessed President’s Question Time. It’s very different to what we are used to back home. Each questioner is given 30 seconds to ask their ‘question’, which typically amounts to a statement with a short question at the end. The President then has 30 seconds to respond. The questioner then usually got 1 further supplementary.

The first half hour of question time roamed freely, whereas the second half was devoted to a particular topic, in this case the nuclear situation in Japan. It was a very civilized affair, with no interjections or interruptions (that in part can be attributed to the multitude of languages being used and the need for simultaneous translation). The Speaker played no role other than calling questioners.

My general sense was that the quality of the debate was higher than in a typical NZ parliamentary question time. I wonder how some of our PMs and Ministers would cope with an hour of intense scrutiny like that? It would certainly highlight pretty quickly who is on top of the details of their portfolios and who isn’t. Something worth thinking about?

Another “Urgency” shambles

Posted by on December 9th, 2010

Parliament went into “Urgency” this afternoon. This is totally due to Gerry Brownlee’s incompetent management of parliamentary business. It also shows a total lack of good faith and a lack of respect for our most important democratic institution. There is nothing “urgent” about the legislation that we’re going to be debating for the next 48 hours, and if Gerry Brownlee had been a more competent manager it could have all been passed during normal sitting hours anyway.

So what’s Gerry’s rationale for this un-urgent Urgency? He claims that because Parliament is about to go into recess for the Christmas break we should sit almost around the clock for the next few days to ram through new laws without giving them the proper scrutiny and debate they would normally get. It just doesn’t add up. I love Parliament, and I love parliamentary debate, but sitting from 9am to midnight for days in a row doesn’t make for good, considered law-making.

We owe it to those who send us here to give all legislation before the House proper scrutiny. The government has been rightly critiscised already this year for passing new laws without allowing select committee scrutiny. They’ve also been critiscised for passing laws that give exceptionally broad powers to individual ministers. It all starts to paint a picture of a born-to-rule Tory government gorging itself on power after 9 years in the wilderness.

What are you doing in this picture?

Posted by on December 8th, 2010

WRAP demo outside Parliament

MPs from Labour, the Greens and National gathered on the forecourt today to stand in solidarity with women in the Pacific who face violence. The action was organised by the NGO coalition Women’s Rights and Advocacy in the Pacific (WRAP).  It is an important issue, and very valuable to have some cross-party consensus behind it. But my question for National MPs who were there today, very keen to get in the press photos, is this:  What are you doing about Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully’s cuts to the funding of human rights organisations and centres in Tonga and Vanuatu that work on violence against women?

Does Parliament need to slow down?

Posted by on November 13th, 2010

In this morning’s Dominion Post there is an interview with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former PM and undoubtedly our most distinguished (local) constitutional expert. He has expressed some concern about some of the laws Parliament has passed recently and the use of parliamentary ‘Urgency’ to do so, and I tend to agree.

New Zealand’s legislative system is very simple by international standards. We only have one chamber, so once a Bill is passed by Parliament, it’s usually law within a matter of days. In other countries, there are ‘second thought’ processes where the law is considered by an upper house, such as the House of Lords in the UK or the Senate in the US. There can also be a ‘veto’ power, for example in the US where the President, elected separately from the legislature, can reject a law. In New Zealand, while the Governor General technically has that power, it has never been used and in the event that it was, the mandate to do so would be dubious at best.

In our system, the government of the day commands a majority in the House (by definition) so it can do pretty much whatever it wants. In the past few months we’ve seen two examples of laws passed through all their stages in a single sitting, the Canterbury Earthquake legislation (supported by all parties) and changes to employment laws (only supported by the governing parties). I strongly believe both of those laws could have been improved had they been through a Select Committee process in which the public and subject matter experts were given the opportunity to have input.

I don’t think we need to go to the trouble and expense of establishing another level within the legislature, but I do think we could put a few more checks and balances on the system we currently have. For example, we could establish some clear criteria the government would need to meet before they could push a Bill through all its stages under Urgency. We could also have a mandatory review process for urgent laws, for example by adding a sunset clause that would come into effect unless a Select Committee reviewed the new law and recommended it be endorsed (or endorsed with amendment).

I’m also concerned that the significance of the parliamentary legislature is being undermined by a procession of laws that give much greater power to the Executive. The Canterbury Earthquake law and the Rugby World Cup Empowering Bill are just two examples. I wonder how our constitutional framework could be improved to avoid this leeching of power to the Executive?

Ultimately the greatest check on the government’s power comes every three years in the form of a General Election. I personally think three years isn’t a long enough term for effective governance (that’s a whole different issue) but before we could even think about a longer term, we’d need to make sure that safeguards against the abuse of power were significantly strengthened. Parliament has a vital role to play in keeping the government honest and ensuring that democracy is well served. I’m not convinced we’re doing that as best we could.

Abuse of the parliamentary process

Posted by on September 16th, 2010

An important part of our legislative process is the select committee. Almost all of the laws that come before the House are referred to a select committee for detailed consideration. The public are normally given an opportunity to make submissions, and membership of the committees is shared amongst all of the parties in the House.

Under the Standing Orders, a select committee can’t normally meet while the House is sitting. This ensures that MPs can fully participate in parliamentary debate. It also ensures that when select committees are meeting, members aren’t distracted by the need to follow what is happening in the debating chamber.

Unfortunately, the National government have taken to routinely using their majority in the House to short-circuit the process by moving referral motions to select committees such as this one:

“I move that the State Sector Management Bill be considered by the Education and Science Committee, that the committee report finally to the House on or before 24 November 2010, and that the committee have authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting (except during oral questions), and during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, and on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, despite Standing Orders 187 and 190(1)(b) and (c).”

Why should we care? We should care because they’re watering down the strength of our democratic institutions. We should care because having select committees meeting at the same time as the House sits will prevent small parties from fully participating in the select committee process (perhaps that’s why the Maori Party regularly let National MPs take their place?). We should care because it will prevent MPs being able to give select committee (or House) work the attention that it deserves.

Where a piece of legislation requires a tight timeframe, an abridged process might be justified. But the born-to-rule tories are now using this referral motion for every piece of legislation that comes before the House. It’s an abuse of parliament and it should stop.

Effective select committee submissions

Posted by on August 19th, 2010

Today I’m in Auckland all day with the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. We’re hearing submissions on Rodney Hide’s latest attack on local democracy. We’ve got a bit of a marathon session today, running pretty much non-stop from 9am to 9pm. Even then each submitter only gets 15 minutes to highlight their key points and engage with MPs on the committee.

Reading through the papers last night it struck me how some people or groups are far better than others at getting their points across in a conscise manner. There are literally thousands of pages of submissions for us to work through. I’ve made an effort to look through all of them and I have to say I read some 2 page submissions that were far more comprehensive and valuable than others that were 40 odd pages or more.

I also appreciate those submitters who come well prepared, highlight the 2-3 points that are most important to them and then spend the rest of their allotted time discussing issues with the committee. I’ll never understand why people feel the need to spend their whole 15 minutes reading their submissions aloud leaving no time for real discussion.

I now sit on several select committees and I find the work involved really satisfying and interesting. I admire people and groups who take time to submit and appear before select committees, but I do wonder how we can encourage them to be more effective in the way they do it?

Armstrong lambasts National

Posted by on August 7th, 2010

John Armstrong has unusually harsh words for National in today’s Herald column.

“Shame on National. That party’s behaviour in Parliament over the past couple of weeks has on occasion veered close to being a disgrace both to itself and the institution … National has ended up being done like a dog’s dinner over one of its most fundamental planks – the closing of the gap between what New Zealanders earn in comparison to Australians … such has been the comprehensive mauling of the concept by Labour over the past week or so that National will now be loath to resurrect it. It is now a loser for National and looks like remaining so through to next year’s election”

“What has been disturbing in this debacle, however, has been the way National has responded to parliamentary questions about the income gap. The low point came on Wednesday when Steven Joyce briefly deputised for Brownlee … A week earlier, Brownlee had told the House in response to a question from Labour that “yes”, the Government did have milestones by which it would measure the progress it was making towards closing the income gap … So eyebrows shot through the chamber’s ceiling when Joyce made the startling admission that there were, in fact, no such milestones. Even more startling was what Joyce said next. Brownlee had given Labour what was technically known as a “brush-off”…”

“Brownlee’s gaffe about the income gap having narrowed since National came to power prompted a desperate search by National for anything that served as evidence, however questionable, of that being the case. Much of the evidence is to the contrary – including some of the material National has dug up. The upshot is that Labour – almost by accident – has given National an old-fashioned hiding on that most fundamental of all questions: which party can be can best trusted with the reins of economic management. The one compensating factor for National is that all this has happened largely out of public view.”

The government have had an easy reign so far, but as Armstrong has pointed out, the shine is starting to come off. National is reverting to type with their ‘born to rule’ attitude. They brush off serious questions by making wise cracks. Up until now that strategy has served them well, but people (particularly journos) are getting a bit sick of it. Questions are now being asked about what exactly National’s plan for New Zealand is. The answer seems to be they don’t have one.

Today’s Lucky Dip

Posted by on August 5th, 2010

There are 3 spaces on the Order Paper for a Members’ Bill. There will be a ballot at midday. The following bills are in the hat:

  1. Amy Adams: Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill
  2. Rick Barker: Sentencing Act (Reparation) Amendment Bill
  3. Carol Beaumont: Local Government (Protection of Auckland Assets) Amendment Bill
  4. John Boscawen: Climate Change Response (Cancellation of Emissions Trading Scheme) Amendment Bill
  5. Brendon Burns: Environment Canterbury (Democracy Restoration) Amendment Bill
  6. Cam Calder: Imprisonment for Debt Limitation Repeal Bill
  7. Charles Chauvel: New Zealand Flag Bill
  8. Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Ethnic Broadcasting Commission Bill
  9. David Clendon: Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill
  10. Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Christchurch International Airport Protection Bill
  11. Clare Curran: Kiwi Jobs Bill
  12. Hon Lianne Dalziel: Illegal Contracts (Unlawful Limitation on Regulators’ Powers) Amendment Bill
  13. Jacqui Dean: Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill
  14. Catherine Delahunty: Human Rights (Disability Commissioner) Amendment Bill
  15. Hon Sir Roger Douglas: Kiwi Industry Restructuring (Plant Variety Rights) Amendment Bill
  16. Hon Ruth Dyson: Environment Canterbury (Water Conservation Orders) Amendment Bill
  17. Darien Fenton: Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill
  18. Te Ururoa Flavell: Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill
  19. David Garrett: Victims’ Rights (Victim Impact Statements) Amendment Bill
  20. Aaron Gilmore: Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance (Break Fees Disclosure) Amendment Bill
  21. Jo Goodhew: Joint Family Homes Repeal Bill
  22. Dr Kennedy Graham: Public Finance (Sustainable Development Indicators) Amendment Bill
  23. Kevin Hague: Animal Welfare (Treatment of Animals) Amendment Bill
  24. Hone Harawira: Parliamentary Commissioner for the Treaty of Waitangi Bill
  25. Hon George Hawkins: Code of Airline Consumer Rights Bill
  26. Chris Hipkins: Environmental Reporting Bill
  27. Hon Darren Hughes: Land Transport (Safer Alcohol Limits for Driving) Amendment Bill
  28. Gareth Hughes: Energy Efficiency Conservation (Warm Healthy Rentals) Amendment Bill
  29. Hon Shane Jones: Waste Minimisation (Priority Products) Amendment Bill
  30. Rahui Katene: Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (1080 Poison Prohibition) Amendment Bill
  31. Sue Kedgley: Consumer’s Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill
  32. Iain Lees-Galloway: Smoke-free Environments (Removing Tobacco Displays) Amendment Bill
  33. Keith Locke: Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill
  34. Hon Trevor Mallard: Minimum Wage Amendment Bill
  35. Sue Moroney: Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months Paid Leave) Amendment Bill
  36. Dr Russel Norman: Overseas Investment (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill
  37. Lynne Pillay: Employment Relations (Protection of Young Workers) Bill
  38. Dr Rajen Prasad: Children’s Commissioner (Reporting on Legislation) Amendment Bill
  39. Hon Mita Ririnui: Electoral (Entrenchment of M?ori Representation) Amendment Bill
  40. HV Ross Robertson: Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill
  41. David Shearer: Continental Shelf (Oil Exploration Safety) Amendment Bill
  42. Hon Maryan Street: New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control (Entrenchment) Amendment Bill
  43. Chris Tremain: Wild Animal Control (Increased Fines and Sentence of Imprisonment) Amendment Bill
  44. Metiria Turei: Income Tax (Universalisation of In-work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill
  45. Phil Twyford: Depleted Uranium (Prohibition) Bill
  46. Nicky Wagner: Family Proceedings (Paternity Orders and Parentage Tests) Amendment Bill
  47. Michael Woodhouse: Financial Assistance For Live Organ Donors

Update: And today’s lucky numbers are: 23, 13 and 14 (highlighted above)

Cheese rolls to parliament

Posted by on July 19th, 2010

On a lighter note, as I’ve promised, I’m bringing cheese rolls to parliament tomorrow.

Eight dozen to be precise.

A few dozen to caucus for morning tea (not everyone will get one though and you know who you are!).

The rest are up for grabs. If you’re hanging out for a cheese roll and feeling nostalgic for the south, contact me.

Doesn’t matter who you are.

Update (photo by Lianne):

cheese rolls

This week’s lottery 3 prizes with winners

Posted by on June 17th, 2010

The winners are:

Douglas, Hon Sir Roger, Education (Board of Trustee Freedom) Amendment Bill
Bakshi, Kanwaljit Singh, Military Manoeuvres Act Repeal Bill
Sepuloni, Carmel, Employment Relations (Probationary Period Repeal) Amendment Bill

Bills in the Ballot

1. Ardern, Jacinda – Conservation (Requirement for Special Approval for Changes to Schedule 4) Amendment Bill
2. Bakshi, Kanwaljit Singh – Military Manoeuvres Act Repeal Bill
3. Barker, Hon Rick – Sentencing Act (Reparation) Amendment Bill
4. Beaumont, Carol – Local Government (Protection of Auckland Assets) Amendment Bill
5. Bennett, David – Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill
6. Boscawen, John – Climate Change Response (Cancellation of Emissions Trading Scheme) Amendment Bill
7. Burns, Brendon – Environment Canterbury (Democracy Restoration) Amendment Bill
8. Calder, Dr Cam – Imprisonment for Debt Limitation Repeal Bill
9. Choudhary, Dr Ashraf – Ethnic Broadcasting Commission Bill
10. Clendon, David – Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill
11. Cosgrove, Hon Clayton – Christchurch International Airport Protection Bill
12. Dalziel, Hon Lianne – Illegal Contracts (Unlawful Limitation on Regulators’ Powers) Amendment Bill
13. Delahunty, Catherine – Human Rights (Disability Commissioner) Amendment Bill
14. Douglas, Hon Sir Roger – Education (Board of Trustee Freedom) Amendment Bill
15. Fenton, Darien – Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill
16. Flavell, Te Ururoa – Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill
17. Garrett, David – Victims’ Rights (Victim Impact Statements) Amendment Bill
18. Gilmore, Aaron – Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance (Break Fees Disclosure) Amendment Bill
19. Goodhew, Jo – Joint Family Homes Repeal Bill
20. Graham, Dr Kennedy – Public Finance (Sustainable Development Indicators) Amendment Bill
21. Hague, Kevin – Fisheries (Precautionary Approach) Amendment Bill
22. Harawira, Hone – Parliamentary Commissioner for the Treaty of Waitangi Bill
23. Hughes, Gareth – Land Transport (Give way to Buses) Bill
24. Katene, Rahui – Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (1080 Poison Prohibition) Amendment Bill
25. Kedgley, Sue – Consumer’s Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill
26. King, Colin – Forests (Milling and Exporting Indigenous Wood Chips for Food Smoking) Amendment Bill
27. Lees-Galloway, Iain – Smoke-free Environments (Removing Tobacco Displays) Amendment Bill
28. Locke, Keith – Animal Welfare (Treatment of Animals) Amendment Bill
29. Mallard, Hon Trevor – Minimum Wage Amendment Bill
30. Moroney, Sue – Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months Paid Leave) Amendment Bill
31. Norman, Dr Russel – Climate Change (New Zealand Superannuation Fund) Bill
32. Pillay, Lynne – Employment Relations (Protection of Young Workers) Bill
33. Prasad, Dr Rajen – Children’s Commissioner (Reporting on Legislation) Amendment Bill
34. Ririnui, Hon Mita – Electoral (Entrenchment of M?ori Representation) Amendment Bill
35. Robertson, HV Ross – Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill
36. Sepuloni, Carmel – Employment Relations (Probationary Period Repeal) Amendment Bill
37. Turei, Metiria – Income Tax (Universalisation of In-Work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill
38. Twyford, Phil – Depleted Uranium (Prohibition) Bill

A Four-Year Term?

Posted by on May 18th, 2010

We’ve just passed the half-way mark of this term of Parliament. As a first-term MP I can tell you it has flown by and I can’t believe we will be back into election year next year.

A lot of people in my electorate have commented that our 3-year term seems incredibly short.

Most have stated a preference for a four-year term, but wouldn’t want to go as far as five years.

I guess under FPP we didn’t want to wait too long before we got to tell our MPs how they were going. But under MMP would we be better off with a slightly longer term?

(Not to say I don’t relish the chance to go back to the ballot box next year!)

In the house

Posted by on December 13th, 2009

The Clerk of the House has opened up Parliament one step more with the launch of It’s parliament tv on line with a growing database of clips from parliamentary debates. You can search by topic or by MP. It allows you to pull up individual speeches, or questions from Question Time.

Designed by new media company Tandem, it is a lot more convenient than having to wade through an entire day’s video. And it makes it super easy to post a clip to your facebook or twitter.

Very cool.