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House goes into Urgency over tax bills


The Government moved to put the House into Urgency tonight after making slow progress on the committee stage of the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill.

The unusual step was taken to end the debate by reporting progress and then immediately afterwards the Leader of the House Chris Hipkins put the Urgency motion to complete all stages of the fuel tax bill and the Taxation (Neutralising Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Bill. The latter Bill is also at its committee stage.

Hipkins said Urgency was required as the two bills had to be enacted by July 1 and it would mean less disruption to the rest of the House’s sitting programme.

National MPs disagreed saying Urgency was being given without notice due to the Government losing control of its parliamentary agenda.

The Urgency motion was passed with Labour, NZ First and the Greens in favour.

National MP Jami-Lee Ross then put forward a motion that “it be an instruction to the Committee of the whole House on the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill that all members wishing to speak that have already spoken in Part 2 have the ability to have a full four calls reset to zero so each member is able to restart their speaking number”. This in effect would have extended the debate by some time.

Hipkins then moved an amendment to the motion that “the motion be amended to delete all the words after "That" and replace them with "That it be an instruction to the committee that the remaining questions on the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill be put without further debate”.

This would have ended all debate on the Bill’s committee stage.

Hipkins said “It is an interesting approach for the Opposition to take to put this motion before the House. It does suggest that the majority of the House be empowered to instruct the Chair as to how they should exercise their discretion. That has been ruled within order, and therefore it is within order for the House to instruct the Chair not to take any further calls on that matter, which, of course, will bring the debate to a much faster conclusion, and it will be a much more satisfactory outcome from the Government's perspective.

“I'd encourage the Opposition to consider, when they decide to encourage the rules of the House to be changed, the ultimate precedent value that that creates and where that may well land up, because, ultimately, the power will remain with the majority in the House in those situations. So I welcome the fact that the House is now being given the Opportunity to instruct the committee as to how many speeches there should be on the remaining stages of the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill, and I believe that this is a very sound amendment that will ensure that the integrity of the House is preserved.”

Debate on the instruction was interrupted when the House rose at 10 pm and the House will resume tomorrow at 9 am.

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